In 1913, right around the time Charlie Chaplin was kicking off his film career, an enterprising clock repairman named Frank J. Murphy opened Murphy Jewelers in Pottsville, Pa. Murphy had been earning his living fixing schoolhouse clocks, traveling door-to-door in a horse and buggy.
This month, his descendants are celebrating 100 years of Murphy Jewelers, which now boasts a trio of stores in the Keystone State — in Pottsville, Hamburg, and Saucon Valley. Owner Patrick Murphy, Frank’s grandson, runs the business with his wife, Kim, and their 24-year-old daughter, Mallory.
“If only my grandfather could see the operation now,” muses Patrick. “I think he would be proud. There were eight other jewelers in town when I got involved in the 1970s, and we’re the only ones who survived.”
The original Murphy Jewelers, which opened its doors in 1913 in downtown Pottsville, Pa.
Patrick credits the company’s success to hard work—“I’m working a half-day today, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.” he says, chuckling—but adds that his parents, the store’s second generation, “taught me to treat the staff and customers the way you would like to be treated. That’s really the secret of our success.”
When the economy took a nosedive in the late 2000s, Patrick made sure all the vendors and employees were paid, even when he didn’t draw a paycheck himself. “I invested all the profits into new merchandise. I thought, if we can get some really good lines, we’ll be okay.” Rolex, Hearts On Fire, Tacori, and John Hardy all came on board. “We’re in a small town,” notes Patrick, “so it was pretty aggressive to [stock] lines that upscale. But we wanted to be associated with good brands.”
In celebration of the centennial anniversary, the family has planned numerous events, including a three-day 100th Anniversary Sale kicking off Sept. 13 and a charity fundraiser called “100 Days of Share Ring,” which will see the store donate 10 percent of the purchase price of every engagement ring sale to a charity of the customer’s choice (from a list preselected by Murphy).
Patrick Murphy (right) with his dad, second-generation owner, Francis Murphy
Mallory is heading up a social media campaign, “The Faces of Murphy,” which asks locals who have been Murphy customers for generations to share their photos and stories. And anyone in the region born in 1913 will receive a gift from the company through its “100 Rocks” promotion.
“The store has been really blessed over the years,” says Patrick. But judging by Murphy’s upward trajectory over the past century—not to mention the sheer amount of promotions it’s rolling out in a single month—we’re guessing good old-fashioned elbow grease has also played a starring role in its successes.