After 82 years in Downtown Jacksonville, Knott and Co. Jewelers will close June 30 and reopen at a Westside location July 5.
“We regret the fact we have to leave, but it’s time,” said associate Joyce Hamilton.
Owner Jody Bennett, a watchmaker and repairer, will move Knott and Company into Sharon’s Engraving, a business at 7200 Normandy Blvd. owned by his sister.
Knott operates in a storefront at 222 N. Hogan St. in the Ed Ball Building, where it has been for almost 30 years after moving within Downtown several times since 1934.
Passers-by recognize it from its glass-block storefront. It is diagonal from Hemming Park.
It sells jewelry, watches and gifts to retail customers and also sells wholesale supplies to the jewelry trade as well as watch parts. Hamilton said about 75 percent of the business is repairs and 25 percent is retail.
Of the repair business, 90 percent is watch repair and the rest is jewelry. Bennett said some fellow jewelers outsource watch repairs to him.
Bennett will focus on repairs and selling parts after the move, but intends to store the remaining jewelry inventory for now.
Hamilton counts judges, lawyers and police officers as Knott regulars, as they drop off items on their way to work. Contractors do the same as they visit planners and building inspectors in the city-owned Ed Ball Building. So do jurors reporting for duty at the Duval County Courthouse a block away.
Knott was a tenant at the building when it was the Florida National Bank building.
The city bought the structure in 2006 and became the landlord. The city said Knott leases 1,285 square feet.
The timing of the move relates to the economy and, to some degree, Downtown’s condition, Hamilton and Bennett said Wednesday.
The economy affected customers’ disposable income to buy jewelry. “People just aren’t spending the money they used to,” Bennett said.
Parking has been difficult for some patrons, particularly some of the older customers who prefer more convenient access. And some customers are uncomfortable being panhandled when they find spaces and walk to the store, Hamilton and Bennett said.
Bennett said those factors collectively led to the decision to move the business now.
Bennett bought the business, registered with the state as Erickson’s Knott and Company Jewelers LLC, almost a year ago. He said he would retain the Knott name as well as the phone number.
Hamilton, a link to the company’s history, intends to step away from the business. She was the mother-in-law of Eric Erickson, who was the son of Epsie Erickson, the longtime owner of Knott and Co.
Eric Erickson died from cancer at the age of 50 on April 6, 2012. His mother died nine months later at the age of 84, on Jan. 6, 2013.
The business was the Ericksons’ lives, Hamilton said. Epsie Erickson took a job at the age of 14 with founders Miles and Mae Knott. After Miles Knott died, Mae wanted to retire.
Epsie took over the company and ran it as a family business. Two of her children, Eric and Janice, joined in.
Janice Nolan took over after her brother and mother died, but it came time to sell the business, Hamilton said.
Bennett, 55, a family friend and Jacksonville native who grew up on the lower Eastside, had become associated with the business. When he learned it was available, he bought it.
Hamilton said they have been telling customers for several months that Knott will move, and the letter posted on the front door confirms the details.
“Thank you for all the years Downtown … See you at our new location…” it says.