AUBURN — W.C. Crosman & Son Jewelers, the hardy independent shop at North and Genesee streets, is closing its doors.
Shirley Marsden, who’s owned the store since 1984 and worked there since 1959, sold the property Feb. 28 and plans to close by May 12.
“I’ve been here for 53 years — that’s more than most can say on Genesee Street,” she said. “It probably will seem strange at first, but time marches on for everybody.”
Local lawyer Rick Galbato bought the building for $162,000, according to the deed transfer.
In an email Tuesday night, he wrote that he has admired the Crosman building for a long time as an Auburn landmark, but did not say what he plans to do with it.
“There will be plenty of time to discuss tenants and future uses of the property,” he wrote.
Unless he plans a Galbato Jewelry store, it will be the first time since before the Civil War that Auburn didn’t have a jeweler at its main intersection.
James Hyde sold watches, jewelry and musical instruments at 74-76 Genesee St. beginning sometime before 1857, the year the city’s first directory was published.
The store was Hyde and Bettys from 1861 until 1881, then Bettys and Crosman until 1886 after William Crosman joined the firm at its new location, 92 Genesee St., where the Exchange Street Mall is now.
The business stayed in the Crosman family through three generations until Marsden and her late husband Sid bought it in 1984.
For a time, it was the official timekeeper for City Hall and railroad employees, who were required to have their watches set there.
Shirley Marsden first started working there in 1959, when Charles Crosman asked if she could pitch in for two weeks.
Since then, she has seen a lot of changes in the jewelry business, the local economy and the city’s downtown core.
“When I started, it was a lot busier than now,” she said.
“People were walking up and down Genesee Street all night and stopping in.”
Now, she noted, there are only a few local shops left downtown.
As Marsden talked Tuesday, Norman Courtermanche walked in with a $10 gift certificate – from 1976.
The Auburn man, who found a similar artifact for the Springside Inn a few months ago, said he’s a longtime Crosman customer.
“I’ve never gone to Walmart,” he said. “I’d rather go to a jewelry store.”
Marsden said she had no plans to close the shop, but decided the offer from Galbato was too good to pass up.
In the past 20 years, she said she’s seen a gradual shift in the customers who come in and the kind of jewelry they’re looking for.
“Back then, people looked to buy quality (jewelry) and have it to keep and to pass down,” she said. “Now, they think about low price and that’s it.”
There’s a sale at the store now to get through the remaining inventory. Marsden has a trip to Ireland planned and hopes to stay involved in the community through volunteer work.
She said she has mixed feelings about retiring after so many years in the shop. For decades, she and her husband would walk back and forth from the store to their East Genesee Street home.
“I’ve got a full week I’ve been putting in all these years, so it will be a change of routine,” she said. “It’s been good to be a part of downtown Auburn.”
Staff writer Justin Murphy can be reached at 282-2237 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenMurphy.