Stopping for the silver
|Jan Price, the owner of the Silver Stop in downtown Price, shows a customer some Indian pawn she has for sale.|
It's a busy little store.
And little is the operative word.
But the energy that keeps it going, the power behind this dwarf sun that shines brightly in the business section downtown is Jan Price.
"I've had one business or another for 47 years here in Price and my love for retail has always remained the same," she said as she stood amongst her goods at the Silver Stop. "It's the people who come in here. It's the feeling you get when you help someone with what they want."
The store, located just west of the Price Theater at 26 East Main Street, is squeezed between the cinema and Southeast Paint, a building that in itself was once a theater too. Not much bigger than the footprint of a full sized, long bed, quad cab pickup truck, the store draws in customers one after another, looking for that unique gift for a holiday, an anniversary or just because.
And Price loves it when people want to talk about, well prices.
"I love to dicker on items in my store," she said. "It's part of the business."
It's not that most of items need to be dickered on, the prices are good. But she sells a lot of unique items, all of which she knows a great deal about.
"I don't look through catalogues to order, I go straight to the source," she said. "There are things you see in here that you won't see anywhere else. I like things that are not run of the mill; you can get those everywhere. To find a gift that is unusual or even something for yourself that you don't see someone else wearing or in someone elses house brings me joy."
That means some travel for Price, because much of what she has in her little shop is very unique, often one-of-a-kind. She says she hand picks everything.
"I like to go to the place where things are made, touch them, see them up close and meet the people that are going to make the things I will have in my store," she stated.
If one points to the hand made articles in her store, she can come back with a story about the person and place where it was acquired.
"Take for instance the amber jewelry over in this case," she said as she moved toward one end of her store. "The people who made this are a couple of oriental fellows and they know almost everything anyone can know about amber. When I met them they told me all about the stone, how it was formed and how it is used."
After five years in the business (two and a half with Bill Bradshaw as a partner in the store on the other side of the theater and two and a half in the shop she now has) a lot of people come to her with handmade items as well.
"I particularly get a lot of the native Americans coming in with what they have made," she explained. "They sometimes bring in old pawn as well and I am most interested in that."
As she said that a customer came in the door and looked around for a few minutes and saw the old Indian pawn she had been showing off. The woman's interest peaked on that and she ended up buying a piece for a watch, which Price said she could have ready for her the next day.
|Price stands in front of a rack of necklaces in her store. She says she hand picks most of the items she sells at the shop.|
"I love working in silver," Price said as the woman walked out with a big smile on her face. " I don't do gold, but I love silver."
The entire bag of pawn that Price had on the counter told stories about the people who owned it, a whole group of stories. One ring in particular, with jagged topaz worked into the silver, had a big dent in the side.
"Wouldn't you like to know the guy who wore this ring and how it got that dent in the side of it?" she asked smiling.
The shop itself is a tempting one for almost anyone. It has everything from natural stone jewelry to Bev Dolittle prints hanging on the wall high above and behind the counters. Kachina dolls dot the shelves, along side cutting edge LED flashlights. Sabers stand on a shelf near the door in beautiful sheaves.
"Look at these pearls I have," she said. "I have a little gal come in here and she's from China. Her family owned a pearl farm. I never understood how pearls are made. She told me that her family used to put sand in the clam shells that were producing pearls and that would irritate the clam. That means it would produce more pearls."
She turned and went to another part of the counter.
"I can look at every piece and tell you about them," she said as she turned toward some purple jewelry under the counter.
"These geodes are called drusy. They are a very expensive stone. They are a natural geode, but in order to get that color in them they are placed in a very high heat along with a DVD, and that pulls the color out. There is something in a DVD that adds to the color of these stones."
Price then turned to the squash blossoms.
"Look at these and think of the hundreds of hours of work in them," she stated. "The Indians who make these are so gifted, so talented."
At one point during the interview five or six customers crowded into the store looking at various pieces of jewelry. The fit was tight but the atmosphere was electric; they loved what they saw.
"You know five people in here is nothing," said Price as the last of them walked out. "I have had as many as 25 in here at once."
Price says she loves doing business in Carbon County and is in business not because she has to be, but because she wants to be.
"I love the people," she said. "I don't care if they spend 10 cents or $300, I like the connection I get with every one of them. I think the nice thing I have found this year is all of the repeat business we have coming back to us."
She has been particularly surprised, and delighted by the men that have come into the shop.
"They tell me that they have bought something for their wife or girlfriend in the past and it went over big, so they are back to buy more," she said.
Price had many stories about people and the things she has heard from them, as well as the way what she sells has affected their lives.
A little store with a great big purpose.
Making eyes light up and dreams come true.