CONWAY — In July 1969, man landed on the moon and Brian Smith touched down in Intervale to open North Country Fair Jewelers.
Three weeks later, he and his shop mates hung a sign on the door reading, “Gone to Woodstock. Reopen next week.”
They did make it to Max Yasgar's farm and back. And to paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, great trip it’s been for Brian, his family and staff these past 50 years.
Moving that first winter of 1969-’70 into the space next to Badger Realty in North Conway that is the current location of Beef ’n Ski, Brian kept his jewelry store there for 32 years before moving down a few blocks to 2448 South Main St. in 2001.
Now, North Country Fair Jewelers is celebrating 50 years of peace, love and fine jewelry craftsmanship and restoration, as well as of giving back to the community.
“Our whole goal originally was to do quality creative work in a friendly, relaxed and comfortable environment. That is what we still do,” said Brian.
The shop specializes in fine, handcrafted, and antique and estate jewelry. They also buy and sell gold and silver.
As Brian noted, they’re observing the half-century mark with promotions throughout the year, including one in which they ask patrons to share their own Woodstock stories. “We’re celebrating right through Dec. 31,” said Brian during a recent interview.
One way to get into the spirit is for patrons to stop by and get a 50-year magnet to place on their vehicles.
The store also will be drawing 50 $50 gift certificates starting the end of this week.
In addition, names will be entered in a drawing for a $2,500 diamond pendant at the end of the year.
The shop is also offering free gifts to anyone who comes in and mentions North Country Fair’s 50th.
Special discounts for the anniversary year include 50 percent off selected items (look for the ads — with the cool tie-dye background — at the bottom of Page 3 of every Saturday in The Conway Daily Sun).
When Brian went to Woodstock in August 1969, he brought along brass peace symbols that he planned to sell. Instead, given the spirit of the “three days of peace, music and love,” he ended up giving them away to fellow festival-goers, including police.
"We don’t make them for sale, but if anybody wanted one, all they have to do is ask us and we’ll make one for free,” Brian said.
He says the business is able to keep costs down because “nothing is sent out; we do a lot of the work, so that results in a savings of 30-50 percent on the costs of things.”
“We also try to keep up-to-date as far as trends,” said Brian.
He said providing customized service is priceless in this age of online retailing.
“We talk in person and get an idea of what the customer is looking for when they are shopping for a special piece, whether it be an engagement ring, wedding ring, anniversary ring or special birthday — any memory-creating event,” said Brian, noting that the shop specializes in restoring antique jewelry and giving new life to family heirlooms in a creative way.
“We buy and sell a lot of antique jewelry and do the rebuilding of pieces; that’s really fun, people get a kick out of it, and it makes them feel good to be able to wear something that has a personal connection to their family history,” said Brian.
Brian is joined by a great staff, including several family members.
They are daughter Emily Smith-Mossman, the store’s manager; her husband, Greg Mossman; daughters Katie Smith and Jen Julian; and staffers Amelia Preece, Nancy Hildebrand and Lynn MacDonald.
“Our motto has always been, ‘If it’s not fun, don’t do it’ — and we have always had fun doing what we do. Our customers are part of our family,” Brian said.
“One thing that sets us apart is that we are a family-owned and family-run business,” said Emily, who along with Greg does the bulk of the jewelry repairs. “We guarantee all our work. We are about our customers as we want to make sure everyone is happy with the work. We build friendships with our customers.”
Showing their love for the community, Emily, Greg and Katie were closely involved in starting North Country Cares, the local non-profit that also runs the Revolving Closet free teen clothing store.
“I think what’s cool about my dad is he opens up the store for us to use for people dropping off bags of clothing and items,” said Emily.
“A lot of the people come in with items who are customers anyway, so they combine their trip of wanting to come in and see the jewelry.”
Another example of community commitment was Greg’s recent creation of a pendant for the Conway Rec Path fundraising effort.
North Country Fair also has, from the start, sold the Jen’s Friends amulets created by Susan Eastman of Boulder, Colo., sister of the late Steve Eastman and this writer.
Brian and family were awarded the Steve Eastman Community Service Award in 2017 in honor of their civic engagement.
The next time you're in the neighborhood, stop by and share your Woodstock story, or where you were for the 1969 moon landing and get a copy of a 50th anniversary magnet while also entering the contests.
Hours are Monday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and closed Sundays. For more information, call (603) 356-5819 or go to northcountryfairjewelers.net.