Daniel F. Wetzel, born in Ohio, opened a jewelry store in Spokane in 1887. D.F. Wetzel and Co., in the Hyde building, was an “installment store” where most sales were made on credit, with customers making weekly payments.
One of his early partners was George Dodson, who would later open his own store.
The store was rebuilt after the massive 1889 fire and became a downtown fixture at 609 W. Riverside Ave., selling clocks, watches, jewelry and silverware.
Wetzel died in 1926 at age 74. Weisfield & Goldberg, a chain from Seattle, bought the business and inventory in 1927.
Brothers Leo and Sam Weisfield and their brother-in-law Ralph Goldberg had a small watch-repair business in Seattle, started in 1917. Before Spokane, they had stores in Seattle, Tacoma, Aberdeen, Bellingham and Mount Vernon.
The Spokane store closed in 1933, but reopened in 1940 in the Sherwood Building.
Goldberg died in 1941, and the name was shortened to Weisfield’s in 1948.
The company also promoted credit purchases. In 1955, Leo Weisfield said it was “a way for the American of average means to acquire the better things in life through the use of personal credit.” In 1955, a diamond solitaire wedding set was $59.50 with no money down and payments of $1.25 a week. The store’s ads for appliances, tools and cameras gave the cash price and the weekly payment amount if you used credit.
The jewelry company tore down the four-story Stockholm Hotel at Main Avenue and Wall Street in 1949 to build a new store with a rounded, ceramic-tiled facade. Excited shoppers flooded into the new store on May 5, 1950.
The jewelry company also owned Valu-Mart grocery and Leslie clothing stores.
Weisfield’s opened stores at University City Mall in 1966 and at NorthTown in 1980.
The Main Avenue store was torn down to build the Washington Mutual building in 1973, with a Weisfield’s store inside.
The Weisfield family still operated the company, with 87 stores, when it was sold in 1989.
The downtown store closed in the early 1990s, the U-City store in the late 1990s and the NorthTown store around 2000.
Today the Weisfield’s name is owned by Signet Jewelers, the largest diamond retailer in North America. The last Weisfield’s store closed in 2019.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.