By Abby Hackmann
LAURINBURG —Are diamonds a girl’s best friend?
For Theresa Alexander, the precious gems have certainly been an enduring BFF.
Diamonds and gold and silver have been the bedrock of Alexander’s family business and that business — Bob’s Jewel Shop — has been a mainstay in downtown Laurinburg for more than 80 years.
Bob’s Jewel Shop has been around since 1934, originating with Bob Armentrout. The shop was passed on to Lawson McCabe, who later passed it down to Alexander, his daughter and the current owner.
“It’s all I’ve ever known,” Alexander said. “It’s not like working anywhere else.”
Alexander’s father, Lawson McCabe began working in the shop in the 50’s. When she was six, her family moved from Onslow to Scotland County to be closer to the shop.
At 14, she began working in the shop like her three other sisters all did.
“Each sister worked here, she grew up, and then of course got married or left,” she said. Alexander left the store behind when she decided to go off to college and travel.
She studied to be a business education teacher and taught for a while. Eventually, she decided to return to Laurinburg.
“This is my home base and it’s a wonderful home base,” she said.
Alexander said her father passed away of cancer in 1998. During his final years, Alexander said Hospice of Scotland County took “such good care” of him. She has tried to show her appreciation for the nonprofit by donating everything from pendants and earrings to a diamond ring around a karat or better.
“I wish there was some way that people could understand how giving this town is,” she said. “There is just no comparison to the openness and giving that is in this town.”
Hospice officials said no one to compare to Alexander and her family. The program takes the jewelry donated each year by the shop and holds a raffle to give a piece away during the annual golf tournament. Proceeds goes toward patient care.
“We’re so thankful that they do this for us every year,” said Bunny Hasty of Hospice of Scotland County. “We’ve raised approximately $185,000 over the past 14 years. It’s just amazing.”
Alexander said one of the factors in her business’ longevity is that there is always a market for jewelry. Diamonds, in particular, signify a certain time in a person’s life that is generally memorable and important, she said.
The shop’s patrons come from as far as Raleigh, Myrtle Beach, and Charlotte. There are even a few that fly in from New York City. The vast array of diamonds come from even more exotic places like Amsterdam, Israel and India.
“It’s not like selling blue jeans or anything else,” she said. “We’re selling to our third generation of families.”
Alexander has her own collection of jewelry from the store. She has kept piece — a one diamond ring — since her college graduation. She said she has changed the mounting a few times, but being able to have that diamond means a lot to her.
Alexander hopes she has operated the business in a way that would make her father proud.
“I would like to think he approves of the way we run it,” she said.
Abby Hackmann can be reached at 910-506-3170