The COVID-19 pandemic created new opportunities for many people, including Art Fish, who decided to purchase Sun Prairie’s Main Street jewelry store in 2020.

Art talked about the jewelry business, along with his long career in the field at the March 9 Waunakee Rotary meeting. 

He got his first job at a store right out of college, graduating with a management degree. His wife worked at the mall, and he began at a corporate jewelry store first as the credit clerk, then as a salesperson, then managing stores in California. 

When his company bought a store in Madison in 1988, Art and his family moved to this area. He then went to work at Chalmers, managing the employees and inventory there, until he began as the sales manager at Goodman’s Jewelers, right on the square. 

When COVID-19 hit three years ago, he was laid off. A couple weeks later, he drove to Prairie Jewelers, and the owner, Mike Durant, offered to sell him the store. 

Goodman’s Jewelers reopened at the end of May, and Art returned to work. Shortly after, a Black Lives Matter riot ensued and the store was demolished, leaving Art to sweep up the glass. As he cleaned the store up, he thought he might just want to buy a jewelry store.

He stayed at Goodman’s until November and found people continued to come in to have jewelry cleaned and buy those engagement, wedding and anniversary rings. 

During that time, he bought Prairie Jewelers, which held its ribbon cutting on May 6, 2021. 

“People were excited about a new owner taking over,” he said. 

But three days later, a car drove into the storefront, and he found himself again sweeping up glass. 

Art said he could have closed the store then but opted to stay open. 

“I decided I wasn’t going to let the momentum of buying a store stop,” he said. “People respected that I was doing business behind the plywood.”

Mike, the prior store owner, is still the goldsmith there, doing repairs and working with the gold. The shop has a long history in the Sun Prairie community, starting as Schiller’s in the late 1800s, and has been in operation as a jewelry store since. The Schiller’s vault from the late 1800 remains there. 

Art described his job, saying he often buys jewelry people no longer want and designs the pieces into new ones. People have sentimental ties to their jewelry.

“I enjoy helping people take emotional pieces and create something that might be handed down to loved ones,” Art said. 



Other News:

-President Joe Baer announced that Ellen Schaaf was voted as the Business Person of the Year. 

-Jean Elvekrog let the club know that the Waunakee Public Library will have pies for sale for Pi Day March 14. Get there early before they run out. 

-The club will be filling goodie bags and eggs at the Village Center March 30 just prior to the April 1 Easter Bunny visit. Donations of candy or other goodies can be dropped off at the Village Center though March 29.

Guests: Speaker Art Fish; Marlow Hicks, guest of Sara Whitley.

Visiting Rotarians: None. 

Birthdays: March 17, Ellen Schaaf; March 22, David Dargenio

Anniversaries: March 19, Lisa and John Humenik

Greeters: March 16, Bill Kennedy and David Kennedy; March 23, Tom Kennedy and Crispin Kenney.