Joyce Barbour, owner of the downtown Grass Valley collectibles store, Jewells, will retire this summer and close the store that she has run for more than 25 years.
“On Jan. 11, I turned 77 years old, and I stood at this counter and said to myself, ‘You know, Joyce, in three years you’re going to be 80 years old, if you live that long,’” Barbour said.
“The second part of it is, this economy is in the pits and for what I sell, it’s not going to get better before I die, so I just want a few days left in my life and years that I can enjoy, to do the things I wanted to do when I moved up here.”
Barbour, a Southern California native, moved to Grass Valley with her family in 1989 because of the area’s natural beauty and quality of life. She bought Jewells from the original owner; the store had only been open for several months before Barbour bought it.
“I came along and bought it from her, which I shouldn’t have done. But it was something that I always wanted to do,” she said. “If you don’t follow your dreams, you don’t get anywhere in life.”
The store’s original inventory included art, jewelry and pottery, but Barbour added a whole line of Walt Disney figurines, Hummels, dolls, plates and other classic collectibles. Barbour also added Betty Boop, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis items.
Barbour said that through the years, the business has been lucrative, but recently her customer base has not had the funds to buy the types of things she sells.
“It’s getting to the point where people have to pay $4.15 to put a gallon of gas in their tank and are spending three times more on groceries,” she said. “They can’t come in here and buy a beautiful cup and saucer, safe from England or Russia, that I sell. They can’t spend money on stuff like that.”
Barbour said she would be able to sell more products if she started to sell items that were less than $10, but she said she wants to stick to selling the high-quality products that her customers have loved over the years.
“Quality is what I carry,” she said. “My customers, the local people. My husband says that this place is for people to come in and talk to you, that’s all they do, but I love talking to people, you know. The public has always been something that I’ve enjoyed.”
Barbour added, “Most of my clientele were always older people. They love this kind of thing, and I had a really good base of them. Unfortunately, time has taken a toll on them and they’re not here anymore.”
Over the years, Barbour has owned two other stores in Grass Valley — a doll store and a women’s clothing store — and has employed around 10 people from the community.
“The other day I had a man come in with his wife, and he said, ‘I just want you to know that over the years, you have been so good to me. Every time I have come into your shop, you always got what I needed. You were always so helpful and always so nice.’ So that kind of thing, I’m going to miss,” Barbour said.
Since announcing her retirement, Barbour has put a 25-percent sale on all items in the store and is also offering 50-percent off on certain items.
“I have been working seven days a week, and I’d really like to go out and see what I can do locally,” Barbour said.
“I’m going to go down to the river, just see all the beauty this place offers up here that before I didn’t get to do. But I will miss the people the most.”
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.