Best of the Best2020
Six generations of the Cornwell family of Athens, Ohio, have owned and operated jewelry retail business Cornwell Jewelers since 1832. And now the enduring fine jewelry store is closing.
Current owner Kris Cornwell plans to shutter the store after a liquidation sale, according to The Athens News. Cornwell, 48, has been running the store for 25 years and told the outlet she’s ready for “a break.” The retailer has two biological daughters who have “no interest in continuing the legacy,” she added. “And when you realize that the family legacy is why you’re doing something, and that you don’t think the family legacy is going to continue beyond me, I really had to evaluate my life and where things are.”
She also wonders if the store’s location on Court Street in downtown Athens would be an advantageous one for the company in the long term: “I don’t know in terms of success of the jewelry store, if it would have made sense to keep it here,” she said.
Cornwell’s dad, Les Cornwall, opened Cornwell & Sons Jewelers in 1966—essentially a sibling store to Cornwall Jewelers—and the two stores merged in 1987. Her great-great-great grandfather, John Cornwell, opened the store in 1832 and in 1852 locked the doors and joined the California Gold Rush. He unlocked the doors in 1856 again, and the store has been in continual operation since.
The Athens News reports that the loss of Cornwell leaves only two dedicated jewelry stores in Athens: indie jewelry retailer Keith Chapman Jeweler and chain jeweler Kay Jewelers, which opened just over a year ago.
“It was a challenge to see what I could do to change the business and make the business better,” Cornwell told the News. “I feel really proud of what I accomplished, and I’m just happy I got an opportunity to do it.”
Top: Customers outside Cornwell Jewelers in Athens, Ohio (image via: @cornwelljeweler)
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