A piece of downtown Columbus business history soon will be fading into the sunset, with Lane Jewelers expecting to close its doors at 1110 Broadway by the end of December.
Barry Harbin, owner and president, said Tuesday that the time has simply come for him to wind down the jewelry store that has been part of downtown’s business fabric since its founding in 1962 by his now-96-year-old father, Marion Lane Harbin. Thus the name Lane Jewelers.
The retirement sale now under way will continue at least until Christmas, he said, with some staff remaining after that for awhile to service customers’ charge accounts. At some point, the building that has been home to Lane Jewelers for years will be sold.
“I’m just at the age now where I’ve still got some (good) health and I’m going to maybe travel a little bit, and my wife’s got some health problems,” the store owner said. “So it kind of came to a head, and I’m 66, so I figured it’s about time. If not now, when?”
The jewelry business was launched a couple of doors down from its current location after Marion Harbin bought it from a wealthy businessman who had suffered financial problems. The father commuted back and forth from Atlanta and Columbus until moving the family here around 1964, the son said.
Barry Harbin, who started working at Lane in 1968, said the jewelry business has always been competitive, just as any commercial venture can be. But the payoff, aside from making a good living, has been the people he has met and done business with over the last half-century.
“Jewelry is trust related,” he said. “We made a lot of friends over the years and met a lot of people and enjoyed it. It’s been a good business, but like anything it has to come to an end ... It’s been good to me and my whole family.”
As for downtown Columbus, Harbin said he’s seen plenty of change through the years, with the area bustling with residents in the 1960s and into the 1970s. The addition of shopping centers and malls farther from downtown is frequently credited for allowing local consumers to do business closer to where they live, thus cutting into downtown activity in the 1980s and into the 1990s. But that has now changed, he said.
“They’ve done a good job of bringing it back,” the businessman said. “Uptown Columbus, I think, has done a great job. If you come down here now at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, the streets are full. It’s just people all the time, whereas it used to be when the stores closed, you didn’t see a lot of people on the streets. Now they’re everywhere. So it’s just a different flavor, a different feel.”
Harbin said his priority upon retirement will be tending to his ailing wife’s needs. He hopes to eventually embark on a bucket list of travel that includes visiting all the National Parks in the U.S.
“I would like to get in the car and cruise up the Eastern Seaboard, and go across the country and go down the western coast, and just see some stuff that I never had time to do before,” he said, noting it’s “surreal” that he will be giving up the six-day retail workweeks he has been putting in all these years.
There will, however, remain a Harbin in the jewelry business in downtown Columbus. Barry’s brother, Craig, owns Regal Jewelers at 1023 Broadway. That business, which includes pawnbroker services, has no plans of calling it quits.