A Thomson institution closed its doors for the final time Saturday, ending an era that began back in 1964 when the Lovelace family took a small investment and parlayed it into a quality jewelry store that served generations.
Rusty Lovelace, the cornerstone of the shop for 41 years, locked the door Saturday as he had for the past four decades, but this time was different.
Faye Chalker (right) helps Veronica Adadevoh with a purchase Saturday at Lovelace Jewelers.
It was the final day of business for the tidy shop staffed by the close knit family and tucked between two other locally-owned companies in the heart of Thomson.
Saturday was a day filled with emotion for the Lovelace family.
"The last day was bittersweet," Mr. Lovelace said.
Although the feeling of responsibility lightened that day, it was sad to bid farewell to the people who have been with them so long, he added.
"So many customers have become very dear friends. That's what we will miss," he said.
"This will be a great loss to the community," said Ruth Knox, who remembers when the store opened.
"I will miss not having them to go to. You felt as if you were not going there just to shop -- but also for the warm friendly fellowship" she said.
Quality of the merchandize, personal service and beautiful gift wrap were hallmarks of the store, she said.
A shift in the buying habits of Americans over the past few years has affected many small companies. Discount malls and internet shopping, among other factors, have forced many small, local businesses to close doors, Mr. Lovelace said.
Rusty Lovelace talks with a customer during Saturday's final day at the jewelry store.
The shop never really thrived after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 fueled a recession that was already hurting the economy, said Harriette Lovelace.
"Everyone stayed home. They were terrified," she said.
The family opened the jewelry shop back in 1964 with an initial investment of $7,000. As the business took root, it changed locations three times to its final address on Railroad Street across from the Depot.
The family members are taking some time to consider future plans. They have several options, but would like to remain in Thomson where they are an integral part of the community.
"Our family has been here since 1783. Thomson is home," Mr. Lovelace said.