Well-known SLO jewelry store to close after decades downtown

Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio, which has been at 720 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo for 20 years, will close its doors following a sale of remaining inventory through the end of the year.
Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio, which has been at 720 Higuera St. in San Luis Obispo for 20 years, will close its doors following a sale of remaining inventory through the end of the year.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to clarify details about the store’s final sale and hours of operation.

One of downtown San Luis Obispo’s best-known local retailers is closing its doors after 45 years of doing business.

Kevin Main Jewelry Design & Studio, a high-end custom jewelry manufacturer and dealer, has sat prominently at 720 Higuera St., currently next to Novo Restaurant and Lounge, for more than 20 years.

But on Friday, co-owners Kevin and Kathi Main said they are retiring and will sell the building, which they bought in 2004. There is no word yet on who might be interested in the property.

The business was closed Friday, its windows shuttered, as staff busied about inside preparing for a major sale next week ahead of its eventual closure, which owners say will likely be final by the end of the year.

Following an invitation-only private sale to preferred customers Wednesday, the store will hold a four-day sale Thursday through Sunday. Kathi Main said the business will be open select hours in the following weeks until inventory is gone.

“There’s a lot of trust in this business,” Kevin Main said, noting restoration work they do on people’s priceless family heirlooms. “I’m grateful for them allowing me that trust.”

After getting his start cutting turquoise stones in Nipomo, Kevin Main said he opened a small, one-man sterling silver shop in Morro Bay in 1973 with the help of a $200 loan from his father. After decades of honing his skills as a designer and craftsman, Kevin and Kathi Main moved to the downtown San Luis Obispo location, which at the time was roughly half the current store space.

In 2004, the Mains purchased the building from its previous owner in the face of necessary seismic retrofitting following the San Simeon earthquake. The Mains remodeled the building in 2008, weathered the economic recession, and remained a downtown landmark for another decade.

“In 45 years, from only $200, we built it to this — only in America,” Main said. “I think we’ve always kept our eye on the ball, kept our focus. We’ve done our own ride.”

Kevin Main said he’s also been fortunate to do business next to Novo, which he called the city’s busiest restaurant.

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Kevin Main said he currently has five full-time employees, a few of whom have already lined up new jobs outside the area, and he said he “will do everything we possibly can to find (the others) a spot.”

Ideally, Kevin Main said they would like to sell the building and infrastructure to another jeweler, “hopefully someone with imagination and horsepower.”

The business declined to share its annual sales figures.

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Interim CEO Sandi Sigurdson said when alerted of the store’s impending closure Friday that the business has been a “fixture” of downtown SLO, and the Mains have generously donated to support local nonprofit events and fundraisers.

Sigurdson said the business has also contributed to downtown’s cultural vibrancy during events such as Art After Dark, when it would open for special viewings of work by local and visiting artists and designers.

“They’ve been a vital part of creating a strong downtown,” she said.

Kevin Main said the couple, who live in Cayucos, plan to travel and open a private studio inside their home. An ultra-distance bicycist, Kevin Main said he plans to ride in France and Australia in the coming years.

“Life is good,” Kevin Main said.

Matt Fountain: 781-7909, @mattfountain1
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