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Business celebrates 60th birthday

Friday, September 6, 2013

By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer

On Sept. 3, 1953, a new business opened on Franklin Street in Rocky Mount.

After 60 years, it is still thriving in the same location.

Haywood's Jewelers has been a mainstay for customers, serving generations of local residents.

The business actually opened as Kingoff's Jewelers with a young Rudy Haywood as manager and partner.

In 1963, Haywood bought out the other partners and changed the name to Haywood's Jewelers.

But most residents now associate the business with Harold Ingram, who joined Haywood's in 1968.

"Harold quickly learned every aspect of the business and his passion for his customers allowed Haywood's to thrive," said Joanna Hudzik, who joined the business in October 1997.

After Haywood retired in 1998, Ingram purchased the business from him.

In 2004, Ingram and Hudzik formed a partnership and opened a second location at Westlake Towne Center at Smith Mountain Lake.

"After 45 years, I've been able to work with generation to generation in the same family," Ingram said. "That is pretty incredible. Sharing special occasions with our long-time customers as well as our new customers never grows old."

"Harold has been with the store for 45 years ... so long most people think he is Mr. Haywood," Hudzik said, adding that one employee, Mary Amos, has been with Haywood's for more than 50 years.

The business started with just a few employees and now has 18 part and full-time employees between the two locations.

Ingram has four daughters, all of whom have worked holidays and summers at the store at different times. His daughter Bernice Ingram still works for Haywood's.

Hudzik said that like a lot of longstanding jewelry stores, Haywood's used to sell many things besides jewelry.

In the 60s and 70s, the store sold jewelry, electronics, luggage, cameras, film, vacuum cleaners, sewing machines and musical instruments, she said.

Selling musical instruments was so successful they eventually opened a separate business called "The Melody Shop," she said. It was located next to Haywood's for years.

The original store started at half its current size, Hudzik said, and made front-page news in the mid-1970s when a car crashed into the front of the store.

Since that time, the business has focused on jewelry and has won many awards in the process.

Those awards include:

•Diamond Importer of the Year 2011 - the Retail Jewelers Organization (Haywood's was selected out of 800 stores).

•Small Business of the Year- Franklin County Chamber of Commerce.

•Small Business of the Year - Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce.

•Nominated for Small Business of the Year - Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce.

•Service Excellence Award - Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce.

•Laker Magazine Favorite Jewelry store Smith Mountain Lake: Platinum Jewelry Store (every year since Westlake store opened).

Hudzik said several events and activities are planned to celebrate Haywood's' 60th anniversary, starting today and running through Sept. 14.

Those events include sales, giveaways (two 42-inch LG TVs, jewelry, jewelry boxes and gift certificates) and a fundraiser for the American Heart Association.

A Facebook contest (for a $200 gift certificate) is also being held, Hudzik said. Customers will be eligible by posting a picture of their favorite piece of Haywood's Jewelry on the store's Facebook page.

Refreshments will be served at the stores each day and various prizes will be awarded throughout the event.

The fundraiser will be held on Saturday, Sept. 14.

"We will be doing a Diamond Dig at the Westlake location," Hudzik said. "There will be over 600 carats of gemstones and diamonds, including a 3-ct black diamond. This event is being held to raise money for the American Heart Association."

Hudzik said buckets are available ahead of time for a donation of $35 or more. Quantities are limited and the buckets may be sold out soon.

"We have actual buckets which people buy and bring back for the event," she said. "We built a huge sandbox and it will be in front of the store that day. People will bring their buckets and each person will get one scoop with that bucket. Whatever is in that bucket will be theirs to keep. I hope this is an event people really enjoy. We want it to be a fun time to raise money for a good cause."

"Our goal is to raise over $5,000 for the American Heart Association," she added.

Hudzik said the event is also the kick off for their annual diamond buying trip to Antwerp, Belgium.

"We (she and Ingram) leave the beginning of October," she said.

"We want to Thank our customers and are going all out to try to do so," Ingram said.

"We are so blessed to be in this community," Hudzik said. "Our customers are amazing and have been so good to us. We have grown so much over the past several years. Customers come from surrounding areas just to visit Haywood's."

"It has been such an exciting ride and I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds," she added.

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