In the Fall of 1948 Morgan Brother’s Jewelers first opened for business, the product of an idea sparked by a chance encounter.
After hearing stories of his grandfather’s jewelry store from a fellow solider, older brother Vernon grew inspired and upon leaving the service decided to pursue an education in horology, watch and jewelry crafting, at an institute in Cincinnati. After some convincing, Vernon, along with his younger brother Victor, both WWII veterans, set off to learn the craft.
Upon completing his schooling Vernon went to work for a Portsmouth jeweler, and a short time later Victor began working alongside him. When the jeweler they worked for refused to give Victor his own watchmakers bench, Vernon decided the brothers would go off and establish their own business.
Hungry for success in their own shop, Victor moved from his apartment into the home of his older brother, where he lived with his wife and child. The pair pulled all their money together, saved up as much as they could, and received a loan of $500 from their father to get their business off the ground. Despite their father’s wishes of establishing their new business in Dayton the brothers decided to stay in Portsmouth and compete with the 7 other jewelry shops already in business.
The brothers set up shop at 605 ½ Chillicothe Street, a small building beside a popular restaurant in town. The pair knew that their location would bring in business, so Victor began repairing watches in the storefront windows. The business quickly took off and the brothers moved to a larger location, and just a short time afterwards a neighboring jewelry shop sold out to the brothers. Now owning two jewelry businesses, the brothers eventually merged the two into one store in the late 1950’s. In 1973 Rick Morgan, the eldest son of Victor, came to work at the jewelry store and in 1976 his younger brother Mark also joined the family business, after both attended school to learn the craft in Quincy, Ill. With both Rick and Mark now on board working as watchmakers and jewelers, the business was growing again and in the late 1980’s after a clothing store went out of business Morgan Brother’s Jewelers moved to the space they occupy today on 5th Street.
Now, celebrating 70 years in business, Morgan Brother’s Jewelers is operated by Rick and Mark Morgan and serves as one of the last fine jewelry establishments in Portsmouth.
Although the jewelry business has changed in the nearly three quarters of a century that Morgan Brother’s has been in business, Mark Morgan says that he and his brother Rick, the new generation of Morgan brothers, have adapted to meet those changes.
“The business has evolved, we’ve evolved with it,” said Mark. Mark said that while decades ago the jewelry business was made up of home visits and door to door sales, and then cases of merchandise on display, that now the idea of a unique piece is what most people are after.
“Now people want a custom made ring,” said Mark. “I would say 75 percent of the rings we sell are custom made.”
Rick Morgan says that allowing the customer to be able to do business with the business owner or proprietor is something that has been implemented in the business since it was first established.
“I think an aspect of our business that stands out is that you can almost always be sure that when you come in here, one of us will be here. I think that’s a good thing, and we operate on honesty and integrity. We try and give a fair and honest value, we operate an honest business, something you don’t always see today,” said Rick.
“We’ve been jewelers to the city for many years, and we’ve put some very nice pieces on the hands of our consumers through the years. We’ve done some custom, one of a kind pieces we’re very proud of, and created things for special occasions. A jewelry store is, to me, not someplace you just walk in and buy something. We’re here. It doesn’t matter if it’s something that needs fixed or repaired, even if it wasn’t purchased here. We’re a full service jeweler,” said Rick. “We’ve been here all these years, we’ll see what happens for the future.”
Morgan Brother’s Jewelers prides themselves on the quality of their merchandise, in a time were quality is often overlooked.
Reach: Ivy Potter (740)353-3101 Extension 1932