Health issues led the late Carl Goldberg to move his family from New York to San Carlos, where he opened Carl's Jewelers in 1978. His daughter Adele (Goldberg) Garland's health issues prompted a "Going Out of Business" sale on July 17 and could end soon, Adele said in an August 20 interview.
"It's hard to do," said Adele, a third-generation jeweler. (Carl's father, Max, was a jeweler). "What made this store important and special for me was what the store and my parents and I did for the community." Their activities included donating items to local churches and charity auctions.
The Goldbergs' move west was prompted by a doctor's advice to go somewhere warm. The family had friends in San Diego and moved to the area in 1977. In September 1978, Carl's Watch Repair and Key Service opened inside Alfred's Tailoring. That was the business Carl's friend Alfred Jacobs opened in a new center located at the intersection of Mission Gorge Road and Princess View Drive.
The business owners had a disagreement, and the jeweler and wife Rachel opened Carl's Jewelers that November in a center located at 8736 Lake Murray Boulevard. "We barely had enough to put on the shelves. My mom came from a long line of retailers and worked on that."
Adele joined the family business in 1979. "I became a watchmaker because my father told jokes constantly. Someone had to [install watch] batteries."
She started doing the books and advertising, and learned jewelry-making by taking some classes. In addition, "all the jewelers we hired allowed me to apprentice."
Adele recalled making nuggets by pouring molten gold over material ranging from rock salt to charcoal. "Nugget pendants were so popular in the 1970s and 1980s. We were doing nuggets every week." The 1990s saw a demand for monogrammed jewelry and engagement rings. Some people proposed in the store; many invited the jewelers to their weddings.
After the '90s, there was much custom work that included "recycling" old jewelry into new pieces. Carl's battery coupons brought me to the shop where the sights and sounds of the clocks entertained me. Adele said there were some cuckoo clocks; most were Seiko clocks that Carl's started selling in the 1980s. The shop sold many Seikos; those in stock were purchased two weeks after the closing sale was announced.
Adele brought out her Seiko Puppet clock and put it on her workstation wall. She pulled a chain and music played as the clock opened, revealing two figures. Near the clock was a photograph of Carl and Jay Leno. Adele explained that her father won a radio station's joke-telling contest. The prize was a limo that took the family to Burbank, where Leno told Carl's joke on The Tonight Show.
After Carl retired in 2005, "he'd go to [the nearby] Albertsons to tell jokes." He was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 and died two years later. Rachel had numerous ailments and died nine months after her husband of 56 years. Adele installed a final $6 (coupon-rate) battery in a watch that Carl rescued (see my comment below) and showed me where her father recorded the month and year of battery installations on the watch interior.
While we talked, customers told Adele they were sorry about the shop closing. "I've been coming here for years," said Betty Martinez.
Adele's health issues include arthritis and chronic pain. After working on watches for many years, "I want to give my hands a rest." Retirement plans include spending time with her husband Scott and their cats.
Asked about Carl's jokes, Adele and Scott couldn't remember one that wasn't "dirty." (See comments for Carl's favorite joke.) She found a "clean" one in the piece she wrote for her father's memorial: "When Carl was born, the doctor didn't know which end to slap."