A downtown Antioch jewelry store with roots stretching back more than a century is closing.
Longtime customers and even former employees are flocking to Persin & Persin Jewlers, 913 Main St., for a going-out-of-business sale that launched this week.
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Hugs have been exchanged.
Laughs have been shared.
Some tears have been shed.
"It's bittersweet," owner Julian Persin said Friday. "When people come in and tell you from their hearts how they feel, it's very humbling. It's very moving."
Persin and his late wife, Susan, opened the store in 1984. Susan Persin died in 2011.
Julian Persin previously had spent decades working at Persin & Robbin Jewelers in Arlington Heights, a store co-founded by his late father, Ben.
Persin's Antioch store was the third jewelry store to operate in the two-story building.
The first was William Keulman Jeweler and Optician, which was founded in 1904, not too many years after a fire devastated the town.
That was eventually followed by Hahn Jewelers. The Persins came next.
Business, Persin said, has been good. And so has the Antioch community.
"I've made many, many friends," said Persin, 66, of Buffalo Grove. "And a lot of them have become like family."
And yet, the store is closing. Persin hopes to sell everything by Christmas.
"It's time for me to retire," he said.
Lindenhurst resident Chandra Solberg, a former vice president of the Lakes Region Historical Society, was among the store's visitors Friday. She was saddened by the store's impending closure.
"It's always been a jewelry store, and it's always been people you trust," Solberg said. "I think he's going to be sorely missed."
Persin owns the building and is looking for a buyer.
He plans to take adult education classes after he's done with the store, perhaps in history or philosophy.
Already well traveled, Persin said more trips are in his future.
Destinations haven't been chosen.
"When I get there, I'll tell you," Persin said.
Antioch resident Sherry Crichton was behind a jewelry case Friday, assisting customers. She worked at the store in the 1970s when it was Hahn Jewelers, and she's been a customer for years.
"To me, it's been important to have this right here, to be able to do hometown shopping," Crichton said. "And I'm going to miss it so much."