Last family member in the business prepares to close 83-year-old A.L. Jacobs and Sons Jewelers
There have been a lot of changes during the run of A.L. Jacobs and Sons Jewelers.
From the development of downtown San Diego to the rise in customers’ online shopping habits, the store has withstood it all, selling jewelry to San Diegans, most recently at 1055 Rosecrans St. in Point Loma.
But at age 67 and after 44 years in the family business, Chris Jacobs, who runs the store, is ready to close up shop.
“I’d been thinking about it for a while, but definitely COVID made it a lot easier to make the decision,” he said of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The store was closed from March 19 to May 6, and the bills kept coming in.”
“I have had a lot of people come in and say, ‘You can’t close, we need you here,’” he said.
Before Point Loma, the store had a few incarnations since it was started by Jacobs’ grandfather, Aloysius Leo Jacobs, in 1937.
“He had five kids at home and it was the middle of the Depression, so it was a pretty tough move, but he was able to [open his own store] and make it work,” Chris Jacobs said.
The store’s first address was 1147 Fifth Ave. in downtown San Diego. It stayed from 1937 to 1946, then moved to 1165 Fifth Ave. It was there until 1960, when it moved to the corner of Seventh and C streets, where it became a reluctant witness to San Diego’s growth.
While at Seventh and C, “we had front-row seats to seeing the trolley put together,” Jacobs said. “It was kind of a mess, but it was interesting to watch.”
After the store moved up a block in 1982 to the corner of Seventh and B streets, “we had front-row seats to the Symphony Towers building being built,” he said.
Jacobs took over the store in 1985. He was the only remaining relative involved.
“I was the only one from my generation that stuck with it,” said Jacobs, who graduated from the Gemological Institute of America and spent six years evaluating estate pieces for a New York-based firm. “People would come and go during high school and stuff, but I started there in 1976 and I’ve been there ever since. I have two daughters. They both love wearing jewelry, but they also both have their own careers, which is fine with me.”
As malls drew shoppers away from the city’s heart, A.L. Jacobs and Sons left downtown in 1996.
After stops on Mission Gorge Road and at Point Loma’s Liberty Station commercial and entertainment center, where anticipated hordes of customers never materialized, the store moved to its final destination at 1055 Rosecrans, near Shelter Island.
Through all the moves, loyal customers have followed, Jacobs said.
“A friend from kindergarten, or first grade, still comes in,” said Jacobs, who attended Cabrillo Elementary School. “We’ve had three generations of the same families come to see us.”
Reflecting on his career in jewelry, Jacobs said the biggest change has been the rise of online shopping.
He’s also noticed that jewelry shopping is no longer generational, as it once was. “We would have generations that would keep coming to us. It doesn’t seem like it’s that way anymore,” he said.
The most expensive item he ever sold was “a big diamond that was close to $100K,” Jacobs said.
While closing the shop will be bittersweet for Jacobs, he’s proud of his legacy in Point Loma. “I grew up in Point Loma, I’m a Point Loma native,” he said. “It was great being able to be back here. I see people that I know all the time. Point Loma is a tight community and I really enjoy that.”
“I’m ready,” he added. “I’ve been doing it a long time. Having to be responsible for every facet — no pun intended — of the business, it gets a little tiring after awhile. But it’s also kind of cool being where we are. I can walk out in front of the store and look at my elementary school that I went to.”
A.L. Jacobs and Sons Jewelers is running a going-out-of-business sale that will continue until it closes its doors, possibly in October. For more information, call (619) 955-5007.
San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Diane Bell contributed to this report.