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After violent robbery, jeweler depends on local support


By Da Lin

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    BERKELEY, California (KPIX) — A lot of people started their Christmas shopping this weekend and they’re being encouraged to shop local and at small businesses.

The owners of one family-run jewelry store in Berkeley needs all the support they can get after a violent robbery.

“Three guys came in. One of them had a gun and he pistol-whipped me for a while,” said Jon Moriarty, owner of The 14 Karats. “I fought back. I just told him to go stuff it. And I went after him and he started hitting me with a gun.”

Moriarty said the gunman hit him multiple times and the thieves took off with about $100,000 worth of jewelry.

That happened the day before Thanksgiving in 2022. Moriarty said all transactions since then have been helping with the financial recovery.

“You can’t let that stuff bother you. Then they’ve won. You’ve got to just pop right up and start over again,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty credits loyal customers for helping The 14 Karats stay in business for the past 46 years.

“We’ve actually made wedding rings for three generations of a family — the grandparents, the parents and then their kids,” Moriarty said.

Aside from crime, he said online retailers and big box stores are threatening his livelihood.

“We’re all trying real hard to stay alive and it’s tough. The internet has taken a big hit,” Moriarty said.

Many of his neighbors in the Elmwood shopping district on College Avenue are facing similar challenges.

“We’re encouraging people to shop local and shop small all year long and that’s really critical. It can’t just be one day,” said Claudia Hunka, who owns Your Basic Bird on College Avenue.

To entice shoppers on Small Business Saturday, she is offering discounts of up to 25 percent off on pet toys.

“Any money that you spend at a local businesses goes into the community. It goes back into the city of Berkeley,” Hunka said.

Moriarty added one more benefit of buying jewelry from him since he hand-makes the pieces in his store.

“They can help design it. They can have input as it’s being made and that’s important to a lot of people when they’re getting something like a wedding ring,” Moriarty said.

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