Downtown jeweler Canizaro’s closing

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 27, 2004

[4/27/04]A transition continues downtown with plans to close another business that has served Vicksburg patrons for generations.

Joseph Canizaro Jewelers, a Washington Street fixture under the names of Strauss-Stallings Jewelers and Canizaro Jewelers for 57 years, will be liquidating its inventory soon.

The announcement comes two weeks after Amzi Thames, the owner of Amzi’s The Hub, which has been in operation for 71 years, said he was closing the business he bought from John Wayne Jabour, son of founder Mike Jabour. Thames said his store, a block from Canizaro’s, would close this month.

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Canizaro’s, at 1408 Washington, is operated by Joseph E. “Ed” Canizaro Jr., whose father, the late Joseph E. Canizaro, began work with the business as a salesman under the Strauss-Stallings name on June 1, 1946. The business operated under that name until 1977, when the name changed to Joseph Canizaro Jewelers.

Ed Canizaro took over after his mother, Arbrette Canizaro, died in January and his father died in February.

“I lost my dad and mom this year, and they were the heart and soul of the business,” he said.

He said he felt it was time to close because the retail business is confining and because he is settling his parents’ estates.

Canizaro said he wants to sell out the merchandise, beginning today, and then sell the fixtures and furniture, possibly to another jeweler.

“I want to sell the building, if I can,” he added.

No target date has been set, he said.

“I have to see how fast it goes,” he said.

Another reason to close, he said, is the character of Washington Street business is changing.

“It is going more toward tourist business than my kind of retail,” Canizaro said.

After World War II, many merchants opened department and variety stores along the city’s main downtown street. Included were Karl’s Men’s Store, Koury’s Children’s Shop, Charles’ Department Store, Michael’s Jewelers, The Sports Shop, Sage’s Bootery and Frederick’s Shoe Store. They joined firms such as The Valley Dry Goods in forming the city’s shopping core.

Canizaro said he grew up in the business.

“I remember we used to go to 6:30 (a.m.) Mass, and then I would help Dad unload the safe. That was in 1953. Then, he would take me to school,” he said.

His first paying job with the store was delivering statements. Postage at the time was 5 cents, and Canizaro was paid that amount for each one he delivered. Later, when he got his driver’s license, he delivered packages.

In the past three years, the downtown area has been experiencing a makeover with publicly funded street and landscaping changes and an infusion of new businesses, including restaurants, antique shops and gift shops.