Burgundy Boutique – Market Square
It all started in 1981 (June 14th to be exact) when Dan Hytrek decided to purchase a small women’s apparel and accessory store called Helen’s Haberdashery, located in Market Square in downtown Casper, Wyoming. The store was sold with some inventory that included primarily women’s Italian shoes, hand bags, belts, some upper end women’s apparel and a little gold jewelry. Given that Dan grew up and worked with mechanics, ranchers, oil country roughnecks, and graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Arts, purchasing a women’s apparel store seemed an unlikely fit. However, during the late 1970s and early 1980s, the economy was bad, especially in Wyoming (due to the oil shock), so jobs were scarce. After several months of looking for work, Dan decided he needed to do something on his own and be in charge of his own career, so he started looking at businesses for sale. At the time, there weren’t many options, a mechanics shop, milk delivery service, bread delivery service, and the haberdashery. The haberdashery sounded fun, so he purchased it and changed the name to Burgundy Boutique. The store had a rough start. After almost one year of sliding down hill financially, Dan began looking for something to make money. The shoes seemed to be always losing money, accessories were somewhat profitable, but when he sold gold he realized he could make a decent profit. People were also consistently coming in to see if he could repair their jewelry. At a time when he was almost out of money, he took a courageous leap of faith and ran an ad in the local paper calling himself a custom designer. Dan spent all his free time researching all he could find about jewelry and began developing relationships with other jewelers from around the area, learning as much as he could. His gutsy move proved successful and Dan soon realized he had a talent and passion for jewelry design and repair. His first job was for $350 to make a pair of marquise sapphire and diamond white gold earrings. In hind sight this career fit was not so unlikely and his degree and experience in art paid off.
Burgundy Boutique to Hytrek’s Jewelers – Eastridge Mall
In 1985 with the boom of the indoor shopping mall craze of the ’80s, Dan was offered a center court location in Eastridge mall, the only mall in Casper. The space was huge in comparison to the previous location. For the 80s, the design was quite trendy. Seven large arched windows wrapped the corner space, each with frosted rose and white stained glass and wrought iron in the arches. Large oak doors framed the entrance into the store. At this point, the store was filled with half fine jewelry and half upper end ladies apparel. Four of the windows were full sized filled with mannequins in the latest fashion and the other three were half the size, filled with jewelry. Two large crystal chandeliers hung over the entrance and the carpet was a bright rose pink. Looking back, it was pretty outrageous, but so were the ’80s. Jewelry and apparel were side by side for five years, but then in 1990, the store transformed into a total jewelry store. Unlike womens fashion which changes season by season, Dan found jewelry to be timeless, easier to manage, and fit with his passion. The store was then renamed to Hytrek’s Jewelers. During this time, Black Hills Gold was all the rage, especially being located near the Black Hills of South Dakota and aside from one of the actual manufacturers of Black Hills Gold, Hytrek’s Jewelers carried the largest selection in Wyoming.
Hytrek’s Jewelers: Wyoming to Oregon – Gateway Mall
The store thrived and prospered into the mid ’90s, but around 1996, the local economy slumped again, the mall needed to increase rents and it became no longer cost effective to remain in Eastridge Mall. Remaining in Casper didn’t seem like an option as the mall really was the best location to have a jewlry store, so Dan and his wife Deneen searched across the Western states of California, Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon looking for other mall opportunities. In mid 1996, they discovered Gateway Mall in Springfield, Oregon and determined that the Willamette Valley was where they wanted to move. With Deneen’s family already living in Oregon, it made perfect sense. It wasn’t until November 1996, that the doors opened to the new Oregon location. While Dan ran the Oregon location, Deneen and their then 16 year old daughter Ali stayed in Wyoming to wind down the business out there. Hytrek’s Jewelers Casper, Wyoming closed in March 1997.
Moving to Oregon was the best move that could have been made. The Hytrek family loves the Pacific Northwest and the business continues to thrive, even weathering the economic downturn of the Great Recession. We’re excited to see what next chapter of our story holds.