The Union Recorder

November 2, 2012

Historic family-run business holds grand reopening

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — After 126 years of business, the family-run J.C. Grant Company in downtown Milledgeville has continued to thrive and hopes to prosper even more with its newly renovated interior and expanded jewelry lines and gift offerings.

“We have had minor changes in the past, but this is our first major remodel. We have painted twice and carpeted once in 34 years. Our old 1948 showcases were used before and now we have new showcases specifically designed and built for this store,” Co-owner Jean Grant Graham said while filling the new showcases Thursday. “We were kind of crammed before and we just thought it was time for a fresh look. We wanted to make things easier for the customers and make things better for us. We always keep the customer in mind because without them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Graham’s great grandfather, John Clark Grant, first started J.C. Grant Company in 1886 in Monticello.

“He moved to Eatonton a few years later and then he moved to Milledgeville in 1909 with six kids. In 1934, he died and he left it to his kids, which three of them stayed in the business and then it dropped to two when one went into the restaurant business,” Graham explained. “My granddad also went into the jewelry business, but in another town because back during the Great Depression, it was hard to find work, so he moved with his family.”

Always keeping the company within the family bloodline, Graham’s great aunt Minnie and great uncle Joe ran the business until their death.

“My great uncle passed away first and then my great aunt passed away in 1972. The business was left to daddy [John William Grant, Jr.] and he’s been here full-time since 1948,” Graham said. “We were located at 108 W. Hancock St., where Folks Art is now, from 1953 to 1978. We moved to our current location in 1978 and now we’ve been here for 34 years. This is our eighth location in Milledgeville and third location on Wayne Street.”

Today, the company is owned by Graham, her siblings Carol Vance and Joe Grant, and son-in-law Justin Jones. Graham said her brother, Johnny Grant, hasn’t been able to devote much time to the company since taking on responsibilities as state senator.

Over the years, we’ve changed the facade... and eventually went with blue, which has been our signature color now for about 10 years,” Graham said. “Dr. Renee Fontenot’s Georgia College marketing class did a project on us. The students asked us questions and looked at our merchandise, and for their final project, they said they were confused when entering the store because gifts and jewelry was everywhere and it didn’t flow. They suggested that we keep the jewelry in the front of the store and the gifts in the back, so that’s what we’re doing now.”

Since starting store renovations in mid-August, the business has remained open during normal business hours expect this week.

“We did most of the remodeling ourselves. We have 24 showcases now, where before we had 13, and in addition to that, we have four towers that will display jewelry in the windows,” Graham said. “We have taken out the shelves that were on the main wall. We have new carpet; we replaced the linoleum which hadn’t been replaced in 34 years. We’ve painted all of the walls and knocked down the gift wrapping wall and built three walls.”

The company also now offers new and expanded lines of jewelry and gift items, including holiday items by M. Bagwell priced under $75.

“We’ve added John Wind, which is scheduled to arrive in time for your Christmas shopping. Nina Nguyen is new and is all natural stone with stalactite and tourmaline in some pieces; the most expensive piece in that line is $450,” Graham said. “We’re expanding our Lafonn line, which is sterling silver, rhodium or platinum-plated and has simulated diamonds in it. We have earrings that start at $55 in the Lafonn line. We’re also expanding on our color-diamond jewelry.”

J.C. Grant Company’s doors will re-open after a ribbon cutting ceremony at 5 p.m. Friday as part of First Friday's spirit of giving.

“We would love for everybody to come join us at the front door for the unveiling. We will close at 8 p.m.,” Graham said. “Stan Strickland prints will be given away through a raffle; you don’t have to be present to win. He will be here to sign prints. For our special buys, we have four China patterns where you can buy three place settings and get one free.”

Open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and until 3 p.m. Saturday, the Grant family appreciates all customers for trusting J.C. Grant Company for the last 126 years.

“We want to do our best to continue to earn customer’s trust and confidence and if they have a need, we would like to satisfy it. Some of the new things we’ve added are based off suggestions from our customers,” Graham said. “We don’t ever plan to move. We have customers that come here where we know their great grandparents; we’ve watched them grow up. We’re the oldest retail business in Milledgeville that’s still in existence.”

“The reason we decided to renovate is because we have the highest quality pieces and our store should reflect that and continue to symbolize what we have to offer,” Jones added. “We don’t cut corners on our repairs, service and things we sell.”

For more information about the company and its products, call (478) 452-2222 or visit the J.C. Grant Company Facebook page.

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