Mascots are cheerful, iconic and instantly recognizable. Mariner Moose, Ronald McDonald, Smokey the Bear, and the Energizer Bunny put a friendly face on their organization and appear at events and activities nationwide. Locally we’re blessed with an assortment of creatures representing colleges, teams and community festivals. Perhaps the most recognizable is the vintage Kluh Bug from Lacey’s Kluh Jewelers.
Their current Volkswagen beetle has been in operation since 2016 though it was discovered by owner Matt Kluh in 2014. But this isn’t the first VW to represent the store. “The Kluh Family has always had a thing for Volkswagen Bugs and they have owned a number over the years,” explain Matt and Suzanne Kluh. “Ted Kluh the original founder and owner of Kluh Jewelers purchased a particularly special one in 1963. It was white with a retro cloth sunroof. Ted decided to plaster a large diamond on the side and started using the bug to advertise around town for his jewelry stores. This is the story that inspired Matt Kluh, current owner and grandson of Ted, to create the Kluh Bug we have today!”
When looking for a replacement, Matt was lucky enough to find one in near-mint condition banished to an Olympia-area barn. Restoration began in earnest in 2015. Once the paint work was complete, Matt assembled the parts and pieces in his garage. “It took about eight weekends to complete,” he recalls. After restoration, the Kluh Bug made its first appearance in front of the South Sound Center store in 2016. Its first public showing was the 2016 South Sound BBQ Festival where attendees posed for fun pictures with the car. When they purchased the building where the new store is now, the made a special spot just for the Kluh Bug.
And it doesn’t just sit around being adorable; the Kluh Bug participates in events all year long. “It spends nine months of the year warm and dry inside our store,” says Matt, “and other than events, we do drive it around town. It runs great and is fun to drive!”
More than that, it’s something of a Love Bug as well. Like his Hollywood cousin Herbie from the 1969 film, the Kluh Bug’s a romantic at heart. “We have had several proposals in front of the Kluh Bug,” says Matt. Including one that took place February 25, 2020, which you can enjoy on Facebook. “People love to pose like the couple on the car.” He’s referring to a wonderful marriage proposal wrap on the side of the car. This and some underlying body work are thanks to Grace Kendall of FastSigns in Lacey and Clint Eich of Tumwater Collision.
The Volkswagen Bug has been recognizable and beloved for nearly 100 years now even though production of the original body design ended in the late 1970s. First designed in 1938, Forbes reports that “by the end of 1946, more than 10,000 cars were manufactured. A decade later, one million had been sold.”
“Everyone has a story of a bug,” admits Matt. “They may have been crammed in the backseat with their siblings or it may have been their trusty first car that always got them from point A to point B. We keep the Kluh Bug lit up at night so it can easily be seen through the window. People often stop just to see the Kluh Bug.” And it serves a secondary—and delightfully unexpected role as well—says Matt. “For men who are uncomfortable in a jewelry store, the Kluh Bug gives them something to do while their wife shops for beautiful jewelry!”
Come see the Kluh Bug in its special home inside the store on Sleater-Kinney Rd or look for it around town at festivals, parades and gatherings. Follow Kluh Jewelers online or Facebook-based events pages for upcoming activities, specials and hands-on crafting opportunities. Or simplify things by signing up for their informative email newsletter. Better yet, snap a selfie around town with the bug and post it to Facebook and you’ll be entered to win exciting prizes.
In 1958, when Kluh Jewelers first opened their doors, the MSRP of a Volkswagen Beetle was only $1,545. Like fine jewelry, they have appreciated—and are appreciated—over the years since then. The Kluh Bug will be the cheerful face of their family and family business for many generations to come.