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Madison location nearing one-year anniversary mark

Stein Jewelry closing store in Greenwood

Madison — Stein Jewelry Company, a longtime Greenwood merchant, enters a new era with an expansion store in Main Street Crossing of Madison and the upcoming closing of its Greenwood location.

Jim Russell, president of the company, said the opening of the Madison location last April was the result of a lot of thought and study when he and his wife, Leigh, decided in 2002 to expand the business.

Their search for a suitable area took them all over Mississippi, studying locations in Hattiesburg, metro Jackson, DeSoto County and even to Fairhope, Ala. They chose Madison for a mix of personal and professional reasons, Russell said.

“Leigh had lived here for 25 years before we married,” said Russell, a Greenwood native.

The close proximity to Greenwood, the low incidence of crime and the well-educated population of the Madison area all appealed to Russell on a business level as well. “With the type store we wanted to build, that was all very important to us,” Russell said.

The April opening went well in Main Street Crossing, a retail development on Highway 463 that also includes Sweet Dreams of Madison, Moe’s Southwest Grill and a Cellular South location, among other retail and professional businesses

“The retail business is just waiting to explode out here,” Russell said.

Main Street Crossing in particular is poised for more success, according to Alan Hoops, director of community development for the City of Madison. With a new Lowe’s location opening across Highway 463 this summer and the opening of the 15,000-square-foot phase II of the shopping center, more and more businesses are coming to that retail corridor, pulling in two banks and three new restaurants already, according to Hoops. “I’m sure once 463 is widened through there, it’ll really take off,” said Hoops.

And Stein Jewelry’s mix of fine jewelry, gift items and top-of-the line customer service is designed to ensure they’re ready to take advantage of the retail opportunities in the affluent community. The store emphasizes a slightly different mix of merchandise than they did in Greenwood, with more contemporary branded jewelry lines such as Lagos available in Madison. “People seem to be more on top of trends here,” Russell said.

But the new location has still worked to retain much of the tradition of the original location, which opened in Greenwood in 1923. “The store in Greenwood has always been characterized by fine quality merchandise (and) by customer service,” said Russell. “We have always recognized that without our customers and clients, we could not exist and be profitable.”

The Greenwood location made its name originally with platinum jewelry, precious stones and exclusive watch lines such as Rolex, which was added to the merchandise list in 1965. Stein Jewelry remained in its original downtown location until 1983, when it moved to Park Avenue, a developing retail area in the north end of town. The original downtown building has been revitalized into another up-and-coming landmark business by Viking Range Corporation.

Another tradition the Madison store seeks to continue is offering gift services, including china and crystal. “We have tried to give this store the traditional flavor of our Greenwood store with a bridal registry and an extensive selection of gifts,” said Russell.

Keeping the traditions of Stein Jewelry Company is even more important to the Russells as they begin closing the Greenwood location in early February, now that the Madison location is firmly established. “The Greenwood store has been a wonderful store for us for such a long, long time,” Russell said.

However, the decline in population in the Delta area has made it harder to keep a store like Stein’s open in the area.

“Our time and assets are better spent in developing the Madison store,” said Russell.

The selection and service seems to be working for shoppers, according to Rosie Vassallo, executive director of Madison the City Chamber of Commerce. “They’re a family-owned jewelry store, and they will do whatever it takes to make sure they can keep your business,” Vassallo said. A lack of fine jewelers in Canton and Madison gave the store a great opportunity to make a mark immediately, according to Vassallo, as did the Russells’ commitment to customer service.

In fact, Vassallo counts herself as a satisfied customer after the store repaired several watches that other jewelry outlets had declared unfixable. “I couldn’t believe my Gucci watch would never work again,” said Vassallo. “I took those watches there, and within a day, they had them back to me.”

Russell said the community, including the county and city chambers of commerce, had been very supportive of the new store over the past year.

“We have been pleasantly surprised that the people in Madison want to support local businesses,” he said. “People like Madison, people want to stay in Madison, and they want to shop there.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer at Julie Whitehead at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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