McFerrin a fixture on Commerce St.

Published 4:03 pm Friday, August 30, 2013

Much has been said about fine jewelry.

That’s because it means different things to each of us.  Whether it’s a beautiful diamond ring, a classic strand of pearls, or the perfect gold bangle bracelet, each piece has its own unique sparkle and shine that holds memories of past, stories of present, and hope for future.

One woman has spent more than 69 years in downtown Grenville customizing jewelry, fine china patterns, and gifts, ensuring every item purchased is unique.

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Sue McFerrin, born and raised in the Central community and a graduate of Greenville High School, got her first job at the age of 18 at J. Lewis Haygood Jewelry Store, where she quickly fell in love with the jewelry business.

“I always loved my work at Haygood Jewelry and knew that I wanted to make it my lifelong career,” said Sue McFerrin. “I love pretty things and making people happy.”

McFerrin worked at Haygood Jewelry from 1944 until 1946, when Haygood sold the business to Johnson Brothers Jewelry.  She continued to work for Johnson Brothers until 1981. Johnson’s transitioned to Braxton’s Jewelry in 1981, where McFerrin stayed on staff until 1985.

It was then that McFerrin made the decision to go into business for herself, doing what she had grown to love. In March of 1985 McFerrin, along with her brother and sister-in-law, Evelyn and Dan Pride, opened the Crystal Fountain and featured china, crystal and silver, along with jewelry and gifts.

“I had worked in a jewelry store since I was 18 years old and it was the business I knew and loved. My family knew that and they were very supportive,” said McFerrin.

McFerrin had spent 41 years working for jewelers on Commerce Street, so opening her own store in the same area just came natural. The Crystal Fountain opened its doors in what once was a gas station and later a bread company.

“Main Street has always been a good place for business and commerce. Commerce Street was a very busy,” said McFerrin. “Business was booming with banks, drugstores, and retail stores.  Anything you needed could be found downtown Greenville. Everyone shopped locally, no one went out of town to shop.”

In 1993 Evelyn and Dan Pride retired, and McFerrin’s daughter and son-in-law, Susan and Bob Foster joined forces with McFerrin and changed the name of the store to McFerrin’s Jewelry.

McFerrin’s career in the jewelry industry allowed her the opportunity to attend the National Bridal Registry School where she received her certification in wedding etiquette.  Working with brides-to-be is one of McFerrin’s favorite parts of her job.

“I enjoy helping family and friends pick out personal gifts for the bride and groom. China is always at the top of the list of our bridal registries, “says McFerrin. “China should be used, not stored away. I always advise young women that if they get a piece of china to use it, don’t put it away in a cabinet. So what if you break a piece. It’s meant to be used.”

McFerrin’s favorite china pattern is the traditional Wedgwood pattern. McFerrin also specializes in stringing pearls, hand-polishing silver, and minor jewelry repair.

McFerrin’s Jewelry is known for beautiful jewelry, china, crystal and silver, and every day gifts. But just as reputable for pretty things is the reputation of great customer service and trusted expertise. And it’s that reputation that has gained a large number of repeat customers to the downtown jewelry store.  “Sue McFerrin treats all of her customers the same, “ says Mae Poole, a longtime customer at McFerrin’s Jewelry.  “I moved to Greenville in 1957 and Sue handled all of my wedding presents and registry, and I’ve been doing business with her ever since. I can call her and tell her what I need when I am looking to purchase a wedding gift and she will pick it out and have it ready for me. She really knows her business, and treats her customers with so much respect and kindness. Sue is just an all around Southern lady.”

McFerrin turns 88 this week.

She is very fond of the downtown Greenville business district. After all, she’s spent the last 69 years making a livelihood there. McFerrin has even gone as far as to provide last minute shoppers access to gifts every Christmas Eve since 1944.

“When I worked for jewelers we stayed open on Christmas Eve,” said McFerrin. “I decided to offer the same service to people when I opened my own business. I have worked on Commerce Street every Christmas Eve except one since 1944.”

McFerrin enjoys jewelry and her personal favorites are yellow gold and pearls.

“The one piece of jewelry that every woman should own is a string of pearls or a gold bangle bracelet,” said McFerrin.  “Classy jewelry never goes out of style.”

McFerrin is at the store every day, along with her daughter, Susan, and granddaughter, Jehle Piggott, busy providing customers with a place to come in and find the perfect piece of jewelry, china pattern, or gift for any occasion.