Iconic downtown Fort Smith jewelry store set to close

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,994 views 

An era of jewelry in Fort Smith is coming to a close after more than a century. For 109 years, the Newton family has sold fine jewelry, watches and other items, with many of those years from their store at 701 Garrison Ave. Now that store is set to close.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. But now is the time. We’re not getting any younger. I’ve been doing this for 53 years. We thought maybe now is time,” said Kelly Newton who runs Newton’s Jewelers with the help of his family.

The business was founded by George H. Newton Sr. in 1914 in McAlester, Okla., according to the store’s website. Four of his sons followed in his footsteps and opened individual stores in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa. The Fort Smith store was owned by William W. “Bill” Newton until his death in 2001. His wife, Zoe, and three sons Kelly, Kyle and Kevin, were all involved with the business, the website notes.

The store is now run by Kelly Newton; his wife, Marilyn; his daughters, Sara, Jennifer and Lucy; and Newton’s Jewelers veteran employees Gary Curtis and Richard Lang, the website says.

Kelly Newton, 73, said the family discussed whether to keep the business going after he and Marilyn chose to retire, but decided it was not the right choice. They also decided it wasn’t the right choice to sell the store to someone else, Newton said.

“It’s better just to go out of business and close. If you sell to someone else, it’s never really the same,” he said.

Kelly Newton

Over the years the store has gained loyal customers from across the country, and that is something Newton said he is going to miss once the store is closed.

“These are active customers. They continue to come and see us over the years when they are visiting family. They call us over the years for their needs,” Newton said. “It’s amazing to me to see these customers who keep coming back to us, some who are families of customers of my parents and grandparents.”

He said they will also miss their amazing customers in Fort Smith and working with local charities.

“Helping them is something we love to do. We cherish all our customers. Our customers have been so good to us over the years. They have allowed us to do this for so many years,” Newton said.

The store will hold a closing sale beginning Thursday (April 6) at 10 a.m. A two-day preview will be held today (April 4) and Wednesday (April 5). The inventory will include millions of dollars in collections of diamond jewelry, engagement rings, gemstones, birthstone jewelry and much more. All designer brands will be included in the sales along with some unique pieces even loyal customers have not yet seen, Newton said.

The sale will continue until all inventory is sold, he said, noting that could be two weeks or months.

Following the final days of the store, Newton said he and his wife plan to spend more time at home and learning how to not wake up thinking they need to be at the store.

“I like being at home, digging in the dirt, being in the yard. I like fishing and playing golf and singing. I’m going to do much more of that,” Newton said.

But he’s going to miss the customers.

“Our wonderful customers, it’s amazing how nice they have been to us. We’re going to miss them very much. It has been quite a trip,” he said.