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Stewart’s celebrates 104 with expansion

Stewart’s Jewelry Store owner Betty Stewart and general manager Aaron Adams plan a series of drawings this week as well as a ribbon cutting and celebration for the public Friday as they unveil the store’s major expansion. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

It started long ago when a man by the name of R.L. Stewart purchased a building on Market Street. He turned it into a showplace: custom cabinets built to show off the store’s wares, cases packed with watches and clocks, hat pins and diamond rings. He then hung out his shingle, welcoming the public to shop at Stewart’s Jewelry Store.
Now, over a century later, Betty Stewart has expanded on the dream of her grandfather, R.L. Stewart, with massive renovations that have doubled both the size and merchandise of the store.
Starting Monday, the new Stewart’s will be unveiled in a weeklong celebration, complete with drawings for jewelry and giftware, culminating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and lunch on Stewart’s — Bill’s hot dogs and other refreshments from noon until 2 p.m. on Friday, according to Stewart.
Renovations began in April, as local contractors Stocks and Taylor gutted the unused retail space next door to the jewelry store, in the process revealing a near-pristine tin ceiling, Stewart said. Paint, carpet, custom-built cabinets — designed to match the original mahogany cases — were all installed, but the final step in the renovations was the most drastic: breaking through a wall to join the two spaces. The result, according to Stewart, is new meets old, historic meets contemporary.
“This has been years in the planning,” said Stewart’s general manager, Aaron Adams. “And we’ve done it, really, to serve our customers better.”
Adams described a private consultation room as one of the store’s new amenities, one that guarantees the privacy of patrons to view jewelry without being viewed by other customers. Improved customer service comes from additional room for employees to work and store merchandise on the ground level, doing away with the many time-consuming trips to the store’s upper levels for boxes, basic jewelry repairs and additional merchandise, Adams said.
While many businesses have been paring down because of reduced consumer spending over the past four years, Stewart decided it was past time to go through with the plan to increase the store’s size, which originated in 2005. Her reasoning behind the expansion was to offer more choice and more visibility for fine giftware, instrumental in the bridal registry business.
“People are still getting married and people are still giving gifts,” regardless of the economic climate, said Stewart. “Business has been really good and we’re thankful for all of our loyal customers.”
To learn how to register for Stewart’s Jewelry Store drawings this week, visit the store’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stewarts-Jewelry-Store/139816792718653.