The Unique History of Elmquist Jewelers

In November 1869, brothers, Peter Johan and David Elmquist emigrated to the United States from Kronoberg County, Småland in Sweden, according to family genealogy records. The original United States citizenship papers for the eldest, Peter, reveal that they arrived in Quebec, Canada around May 1869.

In 1870, their United States citizenship papers were officially signed in Dunn County, WI, an event that marked the beginning of a new enterprise in a new country that has survived for over a century.

We have been in the business since 1902. We stand behind what we do! Visit us at 101 28th Ave SE for all your jewelry needs!
Old shop

Johan Marcus Elmquist

Born to the family of Johan Marcus Elmquist, an organ manufactory operator, David Elmquist was the fourth son in a family of six children. His career began as a jeweler’s apprentice under the supervision of his brother, Peter. By 1872, David became a journeyman and together Peter and David ran a jewelry store in Minneapolis.

Ida Hultgren

While living in Minneapolis, David met his wife Ida Hultgren. Ida was also from Sweden and the two eventually married in 1875. Soon after the marriage, David moved his family to Litchfield, MN, where he owned and operated a jewelry store.

After trying his fortune in Litchfield, David decided once again to relocate and move to one of the two towns, Bemidji or Willmar, MN, and from there, one could use an old cliché by saying, “THE REST IS HISTORY.”
Elmquist Shop

1902 - David Elmquist

In 1902, David Elmquist opened a jewelry store in the first of what eventually became the four store locations in Willmar, MN. On Benson Avenue, Elmquist Jewelers remained until 1928, occupying two stores at different times over a 26-year period. 

Then in 1929, David’s son Oscar moved the store to the Lakeland Hotel Building for the next 37 years. By 1967, Don Elmquist, Oscar’s son moved one door down to 411 West Litchfield Avenue, the store’s fourth location. Downtown Willmar has been the home to Elmquist Jewelers for over a century.
Oscar Elmquist

1915 - Oscar Elmquist

Oscar Elmquist took over the family-owned business in 1915, one year prior to the passing of his father, David. Oscar operated the business in the late 1950s. 

I recall a recent conversation I had with Oscar’s daughter, Avis, who grew up watching the inside of the family business. She described her father as a hard worker and talked about how diligent he was with his daily work routine, which consisted of, “walking to the store very early every morning and working until 5:30 every evening. Oscar would return home to the family residence on the West Third Street and stay just long enough to have supper with the family and then walked back to the store to finish up in the back room on various work orders or repairs until 9:00 or so at night.”

Dedication to the family business:
Oscar’s relentless dedication to the family business was admirable and oftentimes quite necessary, for most of the family-owned businesses in those days consisted largely of the family members who made up the workforce within the business. 

Avis remembers working in the store alongside her mother, Stella (Estelle), and brother, Don, usually after school.
Don Elmquist

1959 - Don Elmquist

In 1959, Oscar Elmquist died and Avis’ brother, Don, took over the family business. Don Elmquist successfully owned and operated the business and eventually enlists the help of longtime friends and loyal employees, Cy Giere and Mike Noonan. 

While looking ahead and planning for the future of Elmquist Jewelers, Don announced the sale of the Elmquist’s stock to associates, Cy and Mike in 1995.
The Elmquist

1999 - Cy and Mike Take Over

When Don passed away in February of 1999, Cy and Mike had already been operating as Elmquist’s new owners since 1998, with Don’s blessing and the new owner's commitment to quality service and merchandise that was established by the store’s founder over 100 years ago.
Don Elmquist shop

2014 - A New Location, Another Milestone

2014 marks another incredible milestone in the journey of Elmquist Jewelers, with the building of their new store at 101 28th Ave. SE in Willmar, MN. The staff at Elmquist was sad to leave their beloved downtown location but excited to begin the adventure of the next 112 plus years with more parking!

Even though the store location changed, the Elmquist tradition continues to live and thrive today as we strive to be the destination, "Where Your Best Memories Ever Begin!"
Chris, Jill and Mike

2017 – Chris and Jill Join Mike at the Elmquist Helm

After almost 3 years in their new location, Elmquist Jewelers is changing again. Longtime employees Chris Forsell and Jill Hanson are joining Mike Noonan in ownership of Elmquist Jewelers. Chris has been the store manager and a Graduate Gemologist (GIA) at Elmquist Jewelers for 20 years.

Jill has been a goldsmith, Graduate Gemologist (GIA), and marketing manager of the store for the past 19 years. Both are excited to work alongside Mike for the continued success of Elmquist Jewelers for years to come.

We truly appreciate each and every customer and for the opportunities we have got. “Where Your Best Memories Ever Begin!”
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