Samaritan Awards; Kraft’s at 50
Date posted: May 6, 2014
Come Saturday, eight members of our community will be honored with Good Samaritan Awards. The recognition banquet will be at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, beginning at 5 p.m. The keynote speaker is Irene De Anda, the executive director of The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Youth and Community Center in downtown Los Angeles.
Sponsors for the evening include the Sheridan chapter, The Salvation Army, The Sheridan Press.
Monday, I stopped by Kraft’s Jewelry, a Main Street mainstay for 50 years, to talk about the store’s golden anniversary with founder Richard Kraft. He’s back in town after wintering in Sun City, Arizona. The Notebook profiled his son, Steve, earlier this year.
It’s a good story. Richard and Marjorie Kraft ventured west from Wisconsin to Sheridan all those years ago, destination unseen. She questioned her young husband’s sanity — “at about Spotted Horse, to be exact,” he says with a laugh. Gillette was bleak, with few trees and sagebrush mostly, he adds. He worked at Jorgenson Jewelry for five years as a watchmaker, but studied gemology at night to become certified. “I knew then I didn’t want to work for someone else for the rest of my life,” he said.
He recalls fondly how a neighbor offered the seed money to start his own store, to buy the place which was formerly Ann’s Gift Shop. And how another friend helped him with a home purchase. All this, while studying to become a gemologist and with a young family.
“Sheridan has been so good to us. There are beautiful people here, incredible people and I’ve been so fortunate,” he adds. “They were the kindest people to help us get started here.”
Kraft says being a local jeweler in an economy that’s tied to the boom-and-bust cycles of energy extraction isn’t easy. “We’re (jewelry) the first business to go down; the last business to get up. We have to work hard at it and be relentless in our business goals.” He adds that the store’s business model has always been to treat the customer with honesty, integrity and be knowledgeable of the products the store sells.
When Kraft, 82, wasn’t in the store, he was honing his golf skills. He was a two time Wyoming state seniors champion and a one-time Western Seniors State Champ. He also enjoys fishing.
The elder Kraft says he sold the store to his son, Steve, in 1994 (an anniversary as well) and hopes his grandson, Spencer Kraft, will continue onward with the name and tradition into the third generation.
The store plans a number of promotional events during May to celebrate the anniversary.
There’s a new menu at The Powder Horn.
Credit the new executive chef, Kayla Zezas who grew up near Buffalo, graduated from Wyoming Culinary Institute before venturing out to Alaska and Denver before, she says, returning “home.” The new menu includes Legerski Sausage Co. products of Sheridan.
Good stuff, this.
“One person’s crazy is another person’s refreshing.”
— Mary-Louise Parker, American Broadway, film, television actress
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