Barrie and Bonnie Carter opened their first Jewellery Store in Smithers on May 18, 1974. After they were married for one year the couple wanted to get into business for themselves. After much consideration and research they decided the jewellery business would be something they both would enjoy. Thankfully, they already had some experience in the industry. Barrie had knowledge in jewellery repairs, having already taken several courses. Bonnie came from a background in the jewellery industry, as her mother operated Smithers Jewellers for many years before she retired in 1973. Everything came together when a retail space became available in the new Smithers Shopping Center, which was a prime location at the time.
With the sale of their home in Terrace, finding a friendly banker and Bonnie's contacts with jewellery suppliers, they were able to fill the counters with jewellery and watches and stock the shelves with giftware and clocks.
In their first year of business Barrie and Bonnie were working 6 days a week and spending most evenings doing jewellery repairs, bookkeeping and paying bills. In 1975, growth in the business allowed the Carters to hire their first employee, who stayed with the company for sixteen years. By the time the employee retired in 1991 they controlled all inventory buying and merchandising for multiple stores.
In 1978, Carters hired a master clock and watch-maker and goldsmith, who started his career at the age of 15 in Holland. After 60 years in the trade, Ralph continues to work part time repairing watches and clocks, and is one of very few with his talents in the province.
Always looking for opportunities, Barrie opened store number two in Terrace in 1976. In the following years Carters has expanded with a store in Quesnel, two stores in Prince George and another, the latest in Fort St. John.
Barrie and Bonnie's son Baron came to manage the Terrace store, then the Pine Center store in Prince George, after completing business courses at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton. He then became a certified diamond grader and graduate jeweller. Baron has since taken over the reins from his father who is now, along with his mother, semi-retired. Their son's responsibilities today include all advertising and promotions, appraisals, finances and overall running of every aspect of the business. Barrie still has a mentoring role in the business but leaves almost every aspects of operations to Baron and the 'dream team', including all the store's managers.
Today the Carters Jewellers family, along with their other retail ventures, employ over one hundred people in the North.
"We pride ourselves on supporting local and are very proud to live in the North and proud to be Canadian," said Baron Carter.
"We deal as much as possible within Canada, hence being the largest supplier of Canadian Diamonds and Canadian Diamond Jewellery in the North."
"Supporting Canada and the North means a lot to us."
One of the newest developments at Carters is the acquisition of manufacturing equipment, design technology and knowledge for in-house custom designing.
Carters now has two designers on staff: Goldsmith Cuong VanTran and Master Goldsmith Daniel Gourd, who is also Fort St. John's store manager.
With their talents, the business can now custom-design and manufacture any style of jewellery, especially engagement and bridal rings in their own shops.
Today Carters Jewellers prides itself and strives to give the best service possible, with their motto being: "There are no nos". Barrie, Bonnie and Baron regard their most valuable asset as their employees; without them there would be no Carters Jewellers. Carters is also proud to be the largest chain store in the Northwest, the largest independent chain store in BC and solely owned and operated by this local family from the North.
Carters is proud to have been in business for 40 years and looks forward to the next 40.