On the southernmost tip of Texas, less than a mile from the Mexican border and 2.9 miles from Rio Grande city Matamoros, R.H. Lackner’s Fine Jewelry has been selling fine jewelry and watches—and operating a booming repairs business—for 110 years.
And for owner R.H. “Bobby” Lackner, 110 years is just about long enough.
The 74-year-old fine jeweler is in the midst of closing the fine jewelry store that goes back six generation in his family.
The reasons are manifold. For one, “the border business has changed a lot over the years,” Lackner says. “There’s a lot of violence [spilling over from] Mexico and the area is different.”
Also, he concedes, the jewelry business itself has changed drastically in the last decade—largely due to the internet—and he feels he’s “a little long in the tooth” to be navigating the shifting tides.
But he says he’s proud to have seen and experienced so much success over the years.
“We’ve had so many nice sales, and we’ve worked with so many generations within the same families,” he explains. In leaner times, estate jewelry and repairs kept the store afloat. “We repaired everything right in the store,” he notes. “And the estate business is great because you end up with things people can’t find on the internet.”
Lackner’s lease on the space was also set to expire this year, and renewing it, he says, “would take me right up to 80 years old.” Instead, Lackner and his wife plan to travel.
Meanwhile, their daughter, Lisa Lackner, plans to carry on the family business in some smaller iteration—in a tighter space and “in a more modern way,” says Mr. Lackner, who adds, “She loves the business, so I will probably have a hand in helping her a little bit.”
Lackner’s favorite part of being a jeweler all these years, he says, has been working with people, forging friendships, and playing a role in happy occasions.
As a jeweler, “you’re able to participate in the joyous times,” he says, then jokes, “It’s better than being a funeral director!”
He leaves the business with reams of fond memories, and the firm belief that “the jewelry business is a noble business—and something we should all be proud to be a part of.”
(Top: Lisa and Bobby Lackner, image courtesy of R.H. Lackner’s Fine Jewelry)