Stroup’s Jewelers in downtown Lincolnton is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, having opened for business in 1952.
As one of the oldest and most familiar storefronts on East Main Street, owners of the family business said they have managed to survive changing times by continuing to keep one important thing in mind: “The customer is king.”
Joe Stroup, who inherited the business from his parents Paul and Ruth, believes this has allowed his store to remain open for all these years. He noted that it’s always best to just keep people happy and satisfied, and that way they won’t “talk too much.”
With many of the jewelry store’s customers having shopped at the business their entire lives, it seems to be working.
“We have a good reputation for good products and fair prices,” said Janice Stroup, Joe’s wife.
She met her husband in 1976 at Stroup’s when he pierced her ears. She fainted, he called to check on her that night and they married the next year.
Originally a soda shop, the store gradually morphed into a jewelry business. Joe’s father, Paul, had been doing watch repair at another store, but he wanted to be in business for himself. When he bought the soda shop in 1952, he added a jewelry case and continued to do watch repairs.
Joe Stroup grew up helping out and doing chores at the family business and returned to Lincolnton to work at the store after he graduated from North Carolina State University in 1972. In 1976, Stroup’s was remodeled to become strictly a jewelry store, thereby eliminating the remnants of the soda shop.
Overall, it has been remodeled about four times, with new carpets and flooring, lighting, glass, ceilings, counters, fronts and a roof over the years.
Joe’s father died in 1980, but his mother, Ruth, continued to work at the store until in her mid-80s. His sister, Paulette Stroup Rudisill, has been doing the payroll and paying the taxes for more than 30 years.
“It’s a true family business,” Janice Stroup said.
Their son, Joel, also works part time at the store, and Janice added that they would love for him to eventually take over.
“The continuity would be great if it works out,” she noted.
Store employees also include Beverly McGee, assistant manager for 18 years, goldsmith Leslie Earley and Kristina Baker.
As a mainstay of downtown Lincolnton, Stroup’s is full of history, with some furniture and equipment dating back to when it first opened. Two watch desks and a goldsmithing stand are still in use after 60 years. Joe also keeps photo albums of the store’s important milestones from over the years.
Janice Stroup said a lot of their longtime customers — many of whom had parents or grandparents who used to come to the store — will often stop in to reminisce.
“Our customers are our friends,” she added.
Despite the option of purchasing jewelry online nowadays, Joe Stroup believes that enough people still want to buy local, and he enjoys thinking of new ideas and innovations for the business.
When reflecting on their time running the store, Janice Stroup concluded, “The best thing is seeing people from the past and meeting new friends.”