Orangeburg’s Andrae’s Jewelers, the oft-touted “oldest jeweler in South and North Carolina,” officially closed its doors last month but the owner has opened a new jewelry business downtown.
Andrae’s Jewelers, founded in Orangeburg in 1888, is no more, but owner Brett Andrae says he is trying to resurrect and breathe new life into a venture, Andrae and Company Jewelers.
“We are changing the way the company was operated,” Andrae said, describing the new jewelry store as a “rebirth.”
“It was under a historic platform, but we wanted to start fresh with a complete blank sheet of paper.”
The new store is located at 1135 Russell St, at the site of the original Andrae’s Jewelers, next to the Blue Bird Theatre and across from Citi Trends.
Andrae and Company Jewelers is a subsidiary of Andrae and Company LLC.
Andrae said the business retails jewelry, conducts sale appraisals and buys gold.
Andrae also has a real estate company, Andrae Investments, under the same roof.
“It has been a positive move,” he said. “We only closed for about three days.”
The hours of the new location are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The store may be open Saturdays as well from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
While a fresh start, the closure of Andrae’s Jewelers remains bittersweet.
“I have mixed feelings,” Andrae said. “It’s hard to let go of something that you know passionately, have nurtured over the years and built into a viable business.”
Despite the business surviving the Great Depression and World War II, Andrae, who is the fourth generation of the family to run the business, said the Grove Park store could not survive the current state of the national economy and the decline in sales of fine jewelry.
“The regulations are tough, taxes are tough,” Andrae said. “The cost of doing business today is 100 times more than doing business in the 1950s and the 1960s.”
But there is another, more personal reason for the closure.
His father and former owner, Ted, has been ill since January 2013, requiring a reorganization of the business. Ted retired in 2003.
The building will be marketed for possible lease.
The former Andrae’s had its share of success.
In the mid 1970s, the family began the Add-a-Gold Bead business that became known around the world. The idea of starting a gold necklace with a single 14-karat bead and then adding beads on special occasions became a marketing sensation.
Seeing the success of the product, Ted Andrae proceeded to open up a manufacturing plant in New Jersey in the early 90s and found himself shuttling from Orangeburg to New Jersey on a frequent basis.
At the same time, Andrae’s Jewelers expanded from its original 400-square-foot and three-employee operation to a 6,800-square-foot, 12-employee business and became one of the largest jewelry stores in the state. At one time, the store also had a bridal shop.
As the business expanded, Andrae’s moved to Grove Park Village three decades ago.
Grove Park Village was built by Andrae and Dick Krivohlavek, owner of Phillips Shoe Store. Ted Andrae had a third interest in the plaza, joining Krivohlavek and Frankie Limehouse of Limehouse LTD. The shopping village was built in the middle 1980s.
Two years ago, the store downsized within the Grove Park Village from its 8,000-square-foot facility to about 1,600 square feet.
Brett said buying habits have definitely changed.
“Thirty years ago, there were no shopping networks nor Internet stores,” he said. “In the past, we would travel to major venues like New York, for example, to buy the best merchandise to bring to Orangeburg. Today, its ‘point and click.’ ”
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