LOGAN SQUARE — When some of the biggest music stars in the world shop for bling in Chicago, they don't head to Jewelers Row or Michigan Avenue.
Rather, they head to family-owned Torres Omar Jewelry, which is celebrating its 37th year in business on the North Side, including the last 23 years in Logan Square.
The small shop's famous clientele include Canadian singer The Weeknd, Grammy-nominated Chicago hip-hop star Vic Mensa and rapper Joey Purp.
They have also attracted a steady stream of pro athletes, including Mexican boxer Julio César Chávez Sr., former White Sox players Dayan Viciedo and Alexei Ramirez and ex-Chicago Cub Arismendy Alcantara. Alcantra's Cincinnati Reds' teammate, Raisel Iglesias, is also a customer.
"They're very humble and easy to work with," said Cynthia Torres, whose parents own the store. "They love the family feel of our store and feel really comfortable with our owner and sales associates. We feel really blessed to have the opportunity to have these musicians as clients."
The store opened in 1980 at 3932 N. Sheridan Rd. in Lakeview by Torres' grandparents, who immigrated to the U.S. from Guanajuato, Mexico.
The store moved in 1994 to 2624 N. Milwaukee Ave. and is now owned by Jose “Pepe” Torres, Jr. and his wife Norma, who live in the South Loop.
In addition to Cynthia, the couple's two other adult children, Crystal and Joe, help run the store along with 15 other employees. Jose Torres said he grew up watching his parents run the jewelry shop before he took it over in 2008.
The Weeknd Visits
They were able to attract The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, by first working with his producer, the Grammy-award winning Mano.
"He came in for the American Express event Small Business Saturday to get a gift for a friend," Cynthia Torres recalled. "He really liked the customer service and decided to return for a couple more purchases, and commissioned us to do a custom piece."
She said that Mano brought in some of his friends and word of mouth has helped a lot.
Many of the musicians are drawn to gold jewelry, she said, particularly 14-karat gold pieces, religious pendants, unique chain links etc. The Weeknd bought a 14-karat yellow gold custom diamond ring with red rubies. Other customers include Japanese-Mexican rapper Towkio and Hollywood Holt.
The store has attracted pro athletes, too.
Chávez, who some consider the greatest Mexican boxer, was a client during his boxing heyday from from 1980 to 2005.
Chavez even did commercials for the store.
"He was an icon for the Hispanic community, and was a really close friend of ours," Cynthia Torres said.
In light of the big fight tonight, our son @joet731 is repping his all-time favorite boxer, Julio Cesar Chavez, one of the greatest to ever do it. Chavez still holds the longest undefeated winning streak in boxing history, and has six titles in three weight divisions. Chavez was known for his outstanding punching power, remarkably strong chin and his heart that never quit in the ring. We were blessed to have him as a close friend and great client during the peak of his career. He was such a humble person and even did some TV commercials for us. Huge shout out to the GOAT!!! . . . . . . . . . #boxing #juliocesarchavez #goat #mexico #mexicanpride #mayweathermcgregor #fightnight #jc
Although the store has attracted high-profile customers, the family says they are community-oriented and attract repeat customers from the neighborhood.
Jose Torres said they offer jewelry for all occasions, including weddings, graduations, birthdays, baptisms and quinceaneras. Repairs and custom designs are also provided.
And they've gotten involved in issues important to local residents like immigrant rights. They close their store for the May Day immigrants rights march. The business has sponsored scholarship funds for undocumented immigrants, including the Dreamers Allies Run Scholarship and Enlace Chicago College Scholarship. The business received the 2002 Hispanic Entrepreneur for Business Excellence Award.
But the business has also adapted to the changing neighborhood, which includes wealthier and more digital-savvy customers.
Marketing to new customers has fallen onto the younger members of the family, like Cynthia Torres, 28, who studied sociology and Latin American studies in college before deciding to return to the business. She and her siblings have been devoted to building a social media presence.
Son Joe Torres was invited by Facebook to talk about social media strategies for small businesses at a forum in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month last year.
“I feel like they’re looking for convenience,” Cynthia Torres said of younger customers. “One big thing is Instagram, so with the merchandise, we’ll do videos.”
To find product, they tap vendors from all over the world, including Italy, Turkey, Mexico, Spain and Israel.
Still, Jose Torres says business is "going very well," and that's because they strive to give customers what they want — at an affordable price.
“Gimmicks aren’t my thing," he said. "It’s everyday low prices, good quality merchandise and good service.”
Torres Omar Jewelers, 2624 N. Milwaukee Ave. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]