By Sherri Coner
When James Spalding decided to retire in 1981 from Spalding Jewelry, the Beech Grove business he opened in 1948, a young entrepreneur named Frank Mascari bought the small shop.
At the time Mascari was an excited 26-year-old with big dreams.
He kept the store name and the leased location at 622 Main St. and happily stepped into the role of operating a family business.
With new plans for the store, Mascari then bought the building across the street a year later, where Bosma’s Dairy once operated.
Still there – at 701 Main St. – Spalding Jewelry has expanded to a multi-brand jewelry retailer specializing in fine jewelry, custom designs and in-store jewelry repair.
“We have been in this building 41 years,” Mascari said. “I think I’ve been here longer now than Bosma’s was here.”
Always a worker who knew that a business owner’s presence was directly related to success, Mascari has loyally worked in the store six days a week for 40 years.
He very recently decided to cut back to five days.
“Here I am 68 years old now,” he said with a laugh. “I’m one of the old guys in business now.”
Wanting to provide only the best service for customers, Mascari scrimped and saved to purchase the best equipment for engraving. He also brags on Jason Elias, the store’s jewelry master for 30 years.
It is likely that entrepreneurial skills are in Mascari’s DNA.
His parents, Gus and Ruth Mascari, opened their first Indianapolis dry cleaning business in 1947.
Through the years, they added additional locations.
One brother, Mike Mascari, now operates Mascari Cleaners.
Another brother, Tommy, is a realtor and auctioneer while brother, Gus, owns a restaurant. So yes, Mascari naturally took a leap toward business ownership before his 30th birthday.
He and his wife, Mary, have been the faces most often seen in the store.
But their children, Frank, Vito and Jennifer spent a lot of their teen and young adult years behind these counters and still help when needed.
When Mascari isn’t helping customers pick pretties from the beautiful inventory of choices, this guy is in the community.
He is a listener and note taker, asking residents what their needs might be, from stop signs to speed bumps.
Mascari has served for 12 years as a member of the Indianapolis City Council.
“I really like helping people,” he said.
After more than four decades of operating a full-service jewelry retail business, Mascari is honored by years of community loyalty. People appreciate that resizing a beloved ring does not mean the ring will be sent outside the shop for the resizing to be completed. The work on beloved chains and other jewelry pieces are also repaired in-house. People appreciate that fact.
“There aren’t that many jewelry stores left like this one,” Mascari said of the business which recently celebrated 75 years. “Now I’m seeing the grandchildren of my customers buying engagement rings.”