Graham Jewelry turns 75

by Todd Brooks

What started out as a fledgling watch repair business in a space at the old Ritz movie theater in Comanche is now celebrating 75 years of serving the community.

Graham Jewelry was started in Comanche by J.B. Graham in 1948 after he graduated from Okmulgee Tech and now carries on through his son John and his wife Rita Graham.

“He pretty much rented a hole at the theater,” John said.

A little while later J.B. Graham moved the business a little further down Oak Main to a larger space and then in 1957 it moved to its current location across the street.

“He taught himself jewelry repair so that’s how he got involved in that,” John said.

He said for many years people would come into the store and tell him they bought a watch from his father.

“One man told me he bought a watch from my dad and paid $1 a month on it,” John said.

The retail jewelry store came into existence when the company moved into a larger store.

He also sold colored glassware that was prominent at parties in the 1950s.

“Everything is paper now, but back then it was glass,” John said.

He also was known for selling Samsonite luggage.

“On Saturday nights, businesses in downtown Comanche used to stay up to at least 10 p.m.,” John said. “Everybody would come down here and walk around. There wouldn’t be a parking space available.”

John started working for his dad in 1980 and then took over the business in 1981 and he still enjoys the work.

“Customers get to become friends as we get to know them over the years,” John said. “Normally, we catch people during the happiest times of their lives and not when its not a good time in their life. That takes a lot of stress off in this business.”

And those customers are what has helped keep the doors open.

“We treat people the way they want to be treated,” John said. “If you don’t treat them well they don’t come back. A big part of our business is repeat customers. Comanche is not quite a destination point to where you can bring in new customers.”