Owner Janice Parish said she has been with the store for nearly half that time.
Brownlee Jewelers opened in 1932 as a counter in the Brownlee family’s pharmacy across the street from its current location. In 1951, the family opened a brick-and-mortar store at 201 Simonton St., where the business stands today.
Parish joined the shop in 1981, just out of high school. Then-owner Pinky Brownlee had been looking for help and took her on immediately, Parish said.
“I walked into the shop, and Mr. Brownlee told me, ‘See you on Monday,’” Parish said.
Brownlee funded Parish’s gemology education in California at the Gemological Institute of America. Parish, whose family could not afford college on their own, called Brownlee a “godsend” and said she loved her coursework.
“I’d come back from California and ask, ‘Mr. Brownlee, can I go back to do appraisals?’” Parish recalled. “He saw how excited I was about learning.”
Parish’s studies helped Brownlee Jewelers expand its services and technology in the areas of gem cutting, appraisal and design.
Brownlee died in 1988, leaving Parish to run the business on her own.
Despite the downtown area “exploding,” Parish said she is happy to see the area continue to embrace its history through its red brick storefronts and restored buildings.
“[People] love to walk these beautiful sidewalks now,” Parish said. “And they’ll peek in and see Brownlee’s. New people come down, and any time we have the opportunity, we bring them in and make them feel like they’re at home.”
In addition to its jewelry sales and repair services, Brownlee also sells and repairs watches and appraises items for insurance. Parish said her favorite part of the job is custom designs, especially reworking existing pieces.
“That’s what makes this business interesting: You can never make it all; you can never see it all.” Parish said. “You can be as creative as you want.” Brownlee Jewelers
201 Simonton St., Conroe
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m-5:30 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-3 p.m., closed Sun.