McCarley-Queen Co.Jewelers, ca. 1924 at 211 N. Fredonia St., Longview, TX
Grace Bennett and R.S. McCarley, ca. 1926
McCarley’s Jewelry Co. traces its roots back to 1920 and its founding marks the origin of a hometown tradition of personalized quality service that has spanned over nine decades, featuring three generations of family service. Before there was McCarley's Jewelry, there was the McCarley-Queen Co., founded in 1920 by Ralph S. McCarley and Ernest N. Queen. It was a jewelry & optometry business, a combination of businesses common in those days. The store was located at 211 N. Fredonia St. in downtown Longview.
In 1921, the store’s trademark street clock was installed in front of the store. It was originally the “The J.E. Pope Co.” clock. Pope’s was a jewelry store in business in Longview during the 1910’s. The clock inspired one of McCarley’s earliest advertising slogans – “The Sign of the Clock” – that was imprinted on store boxes and gift stickers. The gift stickers are still used today on wrapped packages.
In the early 20’s, Mr. McCarley bought out Mr. Queen and renamed the store McCarley’s Jewelry Store . R.S. McCarley, or “Mac” as he was commonly known, owned the store until his retirement in 1960. His wife Grace (whom he had married in 1933 and worked side-by-side with) joined him in retirement. During his 40 years as owner, McCarley’s Jewelry carried many of the same exclusive lines as the finest jewelry stores in Dallas, including fine jewelry, watches, silver, china, diamonds and gifts as well as RCA Victor-Victrolas and Edison Talking Machines. The store became one of the largest bridal registry centers in East Texas and had the first Baby Birth Registry in Gregg County. At the height of the East Texas oil boom in the early 1930’s, McCarley’s sold more Reed & Barton sterling silver tea services than any other jewelry store in the United States.
McCarley's Jewelry, ca. 1955
Mac was very civic minded and supported many city projects, local athletic programs, city softball leagues and the county fair. He contributed his time and business experience to the Industrial District development and many other city and county projects through the Chamber of Commerce.
H. C. Bennett
McCarley’s stepson, Henry C. Bennett bought the store in 1960 and changed the name of the store to McCarley’s Jewelry Company. H.C. or “Stormy” as he was commonly known began working full-time at the store after World War II where he learned the jewelry business from his stepfather. H.C. remodeled and restocked the store, and along with his wife, Nancy, continued the tradition of old-fashioned, individualized service with quality that had become a hallmark of McCarley’s since its founding.
H.C. was also supportive of civic projects, sport teams and events. He was the radio play-by-play announcer for KFRO at Longview Lobo football games for many years. While president of the Longview Jaycees, the land for the Gregg County Fairgrounds was acquired. He also served as vice-president of the Texas Jaycees. He was a registered gemologist, vice-president of the Texas Jewelers Association , a member of the Jewelers of America , and the Independent Jewelers Organization . He also served as president of the Longview Junior Chamber of Commerce.
H.C. Bennett partially retired in 1984 and fully retired from the business in 1990, passing ownership of the store to his son, Clint. At the time of his retirement, H.C. said, “I feel proud of the store’s accomplishments during my career. The grandchildren of some of our oldest customers shop at McCarley’s . I am proud that the store’s tradition of personalized service will continue and that we will remain on a first name basis with our customers.”
In 1988, after 68 years in downtown Longview, Clint Bennett moved the store to its present location in The Village at 2002 Judson Road, bringing with him the 14-foot-high street clock that stood in front of the downtown store. He also brought the store’s original wooden display cases, which were made in Waco around the turn of the 20th century. Two of the original stained-glass sign panels were moved as well. On the move, he said, “We had the opportunity to move into one of the nicest spots in town in The Village. Customers will find the same quality lines and quality service they’ve been able to find downtown much better displayed and organized.”
Clint’s un-timely death in 1993 resulted in his father resuming ownership. Long-time employee Sondra T. Moore, who at the time had been with McCarley’s for 20 years, became the store’s manager. During the store’s 80th anniversary in 2000, Sondra said, “I was very fortunate to have been mentored by the best in the jewelry business. McCarley’s has been serving Longview and East Texas for over eight decades, and we will continue to offer our customers the finest in quality jewelry and personalized service that is the hallmark of the store.”
H.C. Bennett died in 1997 and his younger brother Gary S. Bennett became the owner.
Gary S. Bennett
Although Gary had worked briefly in the store before World War II, he was a civil engineer and later taught drafting for 28 years at Kilgore College. He very much enjoyed his role as owner of the store that his stepfather, mother, brother, and nephew had owned and operated. He took great pride in the history of the store and the continuation of the same quality of personal service and fine merchandise offered since the store opened in 1920.
McCarley's Trademark Clock
In 2006, Gary’s sons, Henry M. Bennett and William W. Bennett became the owners, representing the third-generation (for the second time) to own the store. Like those who came before them, they are dedicated to continuing the family tradition of personalized service and providing McCarley’s customers with the finest in diamonds, jewelry, watches and gifts.
Three generations have owned McCarley’s Jewelry and the store has been blessed throughout its long history with many dedicated employees. Scores of young women got their first job at McCarley’s while in high school or college. They, along with all the other employees’ hard work and friendly, personalized service to the countless customers over the years has made McCarley’s Jewelry the store it is today.