What began as a humble repair shop at 307 Simmons St. in 1987 is now a 30-year-old business that is closing its doors so the owners can retire. Campbell's Jewelers actually started out as The Jewelers Bench. They eventually expanded and moved to Sea Island Shopping Center then on down to a space by the old Krispy Kreme. The last stop was to West Coleman Blvd. in the iconic little building that practically abuts the sidewalk. They moved in, though when Coleman Blvd. was only two lanes. They always wanted to stay on Coleman Blvd. "because Coleman Boulevard is Mount Pleasant."
That first shop was where Bruce did a lot of trade work for large department stores who did not have in-house jewelry repair. There were only a few actual jewelry stores in Mount Pleasant back then. One of those, Whites Jewelers, was going out of business because the owner was retiring.
Bruce and Cindy bought his entire inventory and rebranded themselves as Campbell's Jewelry Bench. For the better part of their time in business, they boasted an onsite appraiser as well as several true watch repairmen.
Owners Bruce and Cindy Campbell landed here by way of the Navy. They settled in quickly and raised their two children here. But after 30 years Cindy is ready to enjoy an afternoon matinee or sit at the New Shem Creek Park and admire the view. Bruce, who's really going to miss working, says he'll fish and garden and shoot.
"We've had some wonderful customers and made some great friends," Cindy said. "Everyone is coming in here and telling us we can't leave."
A lot of refurbished jewelry has passed the doors of Campbells. Many customers brought in their parents or grandparents jewelry to have Bruce re-purpose it. His designs are unique and very seldom does one of his pieces pass by his eyes without him recognizing it as his own.
In addition to repairs, Bruce was known for his creativity and took great joy in creating custom pieces. In addition to jewelry, Bruce even made clocks, some out of cigar cases. And he also had some unique requests. He was once asked to repair a bridle for a horse. He was the only person in town who would agree to do it. He was also asked to repair a museum piece. Cindy collected real horse hair to string the seed pearls to repair the piece as authentically as possible.
Campbell's Jewelers survived and kept up with the digital age. The sale of jewelry over the internet has been the biggest change in the industry. At times it was hard to get walk-in customers unless jewelry was deeply discounted. But the repair aspect of the business remained steady. And interestingly, during times of war, business was always down because so many men (and women) were over seas and not here to buy jewelry for their loved ones. But they weathered that too.
Mom and pop jewelry shops are disappearing as chains move in. The Campbells are thankful they were able to hang on. They credit that to their business being a livelihood not just a way to earn a living.
The Campbell's have been longtime advertisers of The Moultrie News and saved many of those ads through the years. Multiple ads highlight colored stones which Bruce was a fan of. Other advertisements tout the shop as being the best repair shop in town. And it very well could have been. For the longest time Bruce was know as "The Fixer."
Their longevity is a result of loving what they do, honesty and dependability, Cindy said.
They own the land that their little shop sits on and a company interested in buying it is seeking a rezoning to see if their business idea is acceptable for the area. The store will remain open until Christmas and Bruce will continue to do repairs until they close on a sale of the property.
He's nervous about who will take care of their customers once they're gone. But the idea of having more time with his grandkids overshadows that.
"Thirty years went by so fast," he said. "I'd do it over and over and over again."
Cindy added, "We made a lot of people happy. The things he made using generational pieces of family jewelry is just amazing. And what is wonderful is Bruce's stuff will live on forever."