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Jeweler calls it quits after 39 years
Frank Correia, a Fourth Street jeweler who saw his 39-year business trickle down to an occasional sale and changing of a watch battery, has closed up shop. He blames the bad economy and the loss in business suffered when Walmart opened its doors over 17 years ago.

"It is time to retire," said Correia, who will be 90 in April.

Energetic Correia, who came from his native Azores in 1949, enjoyed his biggest profits in the 1980s. He noticed jewelry sales slacking off when the Ceres Walmart came into town. The death blow came in the recent economic turn-down.

"It was pretty good and after a while the steam started going down, down," said Correia. "I was maintaining and making repairs and not making sales. Now I sit here all day and see if somebody wants to come in for a watch battery."

"Now we don't sell anything hadly," said Patty Abbott, who has worked by his side for 17 years. "It must be the economy."

Business was so bad that Abbott - who became more of a daughter figure to Frank - decided to continue on as a volunteer. Abbott noticed more people walking through the door with their own jewelry to ask for an opinion on its value to presumably cash it in.

Correia decided to go into the jewelry business after hurting his back as a maintenance man at Youngdale's. He contemplated buying an existing store in Patterson for $14,000 but felt he could buy his own merchandise and open a store from scratch. He scouted locations and rejected Oakdale since three jewelry stores already existed. Correia drove to Keyes and decided it wasn't right. He stumbled upon Les Fricke's Jewelry store on Fourth Street. The store had seen its better days. Correia recalls the store was "just dust and wires and only two watches in the window." Fricke wanted $3,000 for the business but settled on a $2,500 offer made possible by Correia selling his milking cows.

Correia opened his own shop on April 1, 1973.

During that time he employed his daughter and several others.

Patty recalls almost quitting on her first day after encountering Correia's gruffy demeanor shortly.

"He mellowed out and I understood him more and here we are 17 years later."

She marvels at his energy at 89 and says "he never stops. He can work around anybody."

Correia recalls his shop was robbed twice, once by a knife-wielding man who jumped the counter and tried to get away with valuables. He ran out the back door but was captured by Ceres police a short time later.