THE OLDEST JEWELLERY STORES IN THE US
They have long since celebrated their 100th anniversary, but despite their age, they still sell plenty of jewellery: We are talking about the oldest jewellery stores in the US. They are part of an exclusive “club” of only 52 stores spread throughout the country and operating for over 100 years. They are members of the American Jewelers Association (JA), which unites over 8,000 members and reserves a place of honor for these veteran stores.
The Secret for Longevity
Jewellery stores that have operated for many years have several things in common. In most cases, they are family-owned businesses; they offer uncompromising professionalism; they offer a wide range of brands, jewellery collections and watches in prices that vary; and they have successfully adapted their business to changing market conditions.
The love of jewellery in these stores is usually cross-generational – sons and daughters who have fallen in love with their parents’ profession and wanted to join the business. They are also usually willing to work, at least for a while, alongside their parents. In addition to continuity, the younger generation brings a spirit of renewal, with the older generation often accepting and implementing the changes their children suggest. In this way, the store is able to adapt itself repeatedly to a changing market.
Another factor aiding in these stores’ survival is the relationship forged between the owners and the community, whom the store has been serving for so many years. The owners live in the same city, and are members of the same community as their customers. This inspires trust in the jewellery they sell. When you think about it, it is nice to know that the same person, who sold your mother an engagement ring, is also the one selling you an engagement ring. Such stability and continuity create a tradition that buyers connect to and love.
The Oldest Jewellery Store in the US
38 of the veteran jewellery stores were established in the 19th century, meaning that they have been around for more than 118 years. The oldest store in the US is Merkley Kendrick Jewelers, opened in 1832 in Louisville, Kentucky. The store, a family-owned business, has gone through some financial troubles and challenges over the years. It closed its doors several times, once after the 1929 stock market crash and the depression that followed. The store survived some failed partnerships, and despite everything – it persevered. “It is very satisfying to continue to serve generations of families in the community and have them choose as our jewellers. This is why I love doing what I do,” says Brian Merkley, the CEO and President of the oldest jewellery company.
The “Youngest” Store on the List
The “youngest” veteran store is Baker and Baker Jewelers in Marietta, Ohio, which was founded in 1918 and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2018. Baker and Baker started off as a small store, and with time grew to become a major retailer that sells numerous brands. On its website, the company states that its mission “has always been a tradition of trust, high ethical standards, knowledge of our jewellery products and services, fair pricing and value to our customers”.
The oldest jewellery stores are located in 24 US states, and are therefore spread out rather than concentrated in a small number of states. The highest concentration is in Texas and Illinois, with four veteran jewellery stores in each.
The American Jewelers Association
The American Jewelers Association was established in 1906 by jewelers and for jewelers, for the purpose of promoting professionalism and ethics in the industry. The association has more than 8,000 members from all over the US, including independent store owners, chain stores, jewellery makers, jewellery retailers, designers and service providers. The data provided in this article is based on the data of the JA.
By Iris Hortman