By Laurel Busby
Need a watch battery and don’t want to leave your timepiece? Want to talk to someone who has been in the jewelry business for more than 40 years? Then head to Bubar’s Jewelers in Santa Monica where Bill Bubar, who was born and raised in Pacific Palisades, can assist you.
Bubar’s is like a second home to owner Bill Bubar. His father, Nat, opened the Santa Monica store in 1945, two years before Bill was born.
Growing up, the young Bubar would often hang out or work in the store, now located on 1457 Fourth St. He remembers its first location at 311 Santa Monica Blvd., where his father said J. Paul Getty would sometimes pop down from his offices above the store to have a pen refilled. At the time, the store offered not just jewelry and watches, but Oneida silver plate, photographs and Schaeffer pens.
Today, the store not only displays fine jewelry from various designers, but also manufactures custom pieces and repairs both watches and jewelry. Bubar, and his associate, Leonel Zepeda, operate the store together.
Zepeda, who first began to learn watch- making and jewelry manufacture at seven years old in Guatemala, has been at Bubar’s for 26 years.
Bubar, a 1966 PaliHi graduate, stepped away from the family business to work for 12 years in education at Overland Elementary, Laurel Elementary and Arlington Heights Elementary. But in 1985, he returned to the family business, and since the 1990s, when his parents and sister, Moreen Stein, a 1963 PaliHi graduate, passed away, he has owned and operated the store.
“We’re pretty much the same store we were from the beginning,” said Bubar, who noted that he remains close to his sister’s husband, Ira, and son, Todd, a 1993 PaliHi graduate.
Continuing their legacy by helping people select, maintain and create fine jewelry has been a joy for Bubar.
“It’s service and quality—the kind of store where people feel comfortable, because we have a long history. In jewelry, that’s important—trust and service and quality.”