Hale’s Celebrates 150 years

Hale’s Jewelers, Greenville, S.C., recently celebrated its 150th Anniversary. A family owned retailer since 1856, Hale’s is a member of Jewelers of America’s JA 100 Club, which honors retail jewelry stores that have been in continuous operation for a century or longer and have provided their communities with knowledgeable, professional service.

Hale’s Jewelers is among the five oldest retailers inducted to the JA 100 Club, which currently has 96 members.

“We congratulate Hale’s Jewelers on this tremendous achievement and consider it an honor to have them as a member of Jewelers of America and our JA 100 Club,” says JA President and CEO Matthew A. Runci. ”Their dedication to professionalism, integrity, and quality is evidenced by their nearly two centuries of success.”

In 1856, Greenville’s business center consisted of a courthouse, jail, and a few wooden structures—one of which housed James Hunter Randolph’s fine jewelry and engraving store. Today, that small wooden building is gone and Hale’s Jewelers is located in a modern 5,000-square-foot building.

In its 150 years, the store’s ownership has passed through three families, but its connection to its community and its traditions have remained. Hale’s current owner, Lucian Lee, a long-time employee of Hale’s who bought the store in 2000, connects Hale’s success with its ties to the local community.

“Our success can be directly linked to the growth of the Greenville community,” Lee states. “Many of our customers have had generations of family members shop with us.”

When Hale’s first opened, it offered “hair braiding,” a style of jewelry in which hair from a loved one was braided into gold jewelry as a memento. It was especially popular at the time, as soldiers were heading to the Civil War. Hale’s Jewelers was also one of the first jewelers in the United States to offer Swiss watches, which today dominate the market.

In 1993, Heyward Sullivan and Hewlett Sullivan Jr., Hale’s owners at the time, closed the downtown Main Street location and move to its current location. It was an “emotionally traumatic” experience, according to Hewlett, since the Sullivan family had owned the downtown store since 1923. However, the success—sales doubled in the first year—of the new store quickly eased their growing pains. The store retained some of its traditions including its famous outside.