Comeback time

When cell phones began to become must-haves a decade ago, many predicted it was only a matter of time before the wristwatch would die off. With the phone’s clock feature, who would need a separate timepiece?

But time has proven the wristwatch death watch premature, says the manager of Feagans Jewelers at 230 W. Washington St. in Charles Town.

“People still love watches – as timepieces and as jewelry,” said Fred W. Kratz, who joined the family-run Feagans in 1990. “Even though your cell phone might tell you the time, a lot of people want the convenience of wearing a watch. A lot of people love the look of wearing a watch. And then you have people who see beautiful watches as something to collect. They’re always looking for another favorite.”

Shane Stoneberger is Feagans’ gem expert and craftsman. He joined the business in 1989, the same year he graduated from Jefferson High.

As the holidays approach, watches will be popular items both for men and women, Fratz said, though some customers find it tricky to find just the right style of watch for the people on their shopping list. “We let customers know they can always come back and exchange the watch after Christmas if the style isn’t the right fit,” he said. “Or some people get intimidated about making a selection and decide to go with a gift certificate instead.”

At Feagans, choices include old-fashioned pocket watches, solar-powered wristwatches, sports styles, watches with calculators, digital cameras, moon phase indicators, e-mail apps and other high-tech gadgetry built in as well as the high-end Bulova line, a recent addition to Feagans’ lineup.

As the holidays near, the store will stay open later selling not only watches but gift possibilities including birthstone jewelry for children, earrings, engraved items, estate jewelry, rings, key chains, West Virginia University wares, and more.

“We get especially busy the two weeks before Christmas,” said Kratz, whose first career was as a jockey, the same profession as his father. His family moved here from Long Island, N.Y., in 1953 when Kratz was just 6 so that his dad could race in Charles Town as well as nearby tracks in Maryland.

“Every year, a lot of men procrastinate about their holiday shopping,” he said. “They know they need to get their wives or their girlfriends something special but they’ll put it off as long as they can.”

Kratz said customers appreciate knowing they can come in – even at the last minute – and get information and advice.

“It’s like we say in our motto, ‘If you don’t know jewelry, know a jeweler you can trust.’ Here, it’s about building a relationship with our customers. They know they can come here and rely on our expertise and our integrity. They know we will good take care of them.”

The approach has worked for Feagans for generations, Kratz said. The late Bill Feagans, a watch repairman, founded the business in 1953. Today, David D. Feagans serves as president and the staff includes jewel expert Shane Stoneberger, a Jefferson County native who joined the business out of high school in 1989, and sales associates Loretta Blair and George Stribling, both of whom have been with Feagans for six years.

One of the aspects of Feagans that customers appreciate most, Kratz said, is that all work is done on site. “We’re a full-service jewelry store,” he said. “We do it all. People know if they leave a diamond here, they’re going to get the same diamond back – they like that reassurance.”

The store also refashions jewelry and handles other custom orders. For details, visit feagans-jewelers.com or call 304-725-7411.

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