On a visit to Stockbridge in 1995, Robin Fleet stopped into Heirlooms Jewelry to look for a unique diamond ring with her young daughter in tow. She decided to return the following week on a solo mission and, to her surprise, a closing sale sign greeted her upon return. Robin and her partner Phil Coleman had been looking for a way to support their family and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. With a background in art therapy, a keen eye, sense of style, and passion for beautiful jewelry, Robin knew she could run a successful operation. The owner agreed to sell, and the rest is history.
Heirlooms Jewelry, as its name implies, has carried antique and estate jewelry since it opened in the 1970s, but also has items that would appeal to any budget, like scarves, handbags, and everyday jewelry– what Robin calls “affordable elegance.” She has worked diligently to curate an accessible array of pieces for both longtime residents and visitors seeking the perfect souvenir. The store is organized around different themes, like history, music, and “Made in America,” and shoppers can find items made out of 2,000 year-old Roman Glass from Israel and 40 million year-old Baltic amber from Poland. Robin loves sourcing unique items with an interesting history— and her favorite pieces that have come through the store are Victorian slide bracelets which were popular in the mid 18th and early 19th centuries. These bracelets are usually made from gold and feature a multitude of gemstone or cameo charms. A rarity in the shop, Robin says they are “a beautiful example of an ancient jewelry style.”
After all these years in business, like many of their neighbors, Robin and Phil are still figuring out how to weather the seasonality of the Stockbridge economy, but they say that it’s “one of the most interesting places to shop in the Berkshires. It’s walkable, quaint, cozy, and easy to get around.” Phil, who came into the business full time 10 years ago to help Robin with bookkeeping and marketing, says that online shopping has made it more difficult for them over the years and that the ebbs and flows of Stockbridge foot traffic are an added challenge.
There’s a reason why Main Street Stockbridge still looks the the same today as it did in 1967 when Norman Rockwell painted “Home for Christmas.” Due to thoughtful succession planning, like Heirlooms, many of the same businesses have been there for generations. Today’s business owners are helping to maintain the character and charm of the town by providing a reliable shopping experience. During the slow season in the dead of winter, businesses in Stockbridge look to innovative ideas like cooperative advertising and value-added opportunities like BerkShares.
At Heirlooms Jewelry, Robin and Phil can recirculate their BerkShares with service providers, but would love to spend the BerkShares they bring in with more local high-quality-jewelry makers and other Stockbridge businesses. As a board member of 1Berkshire, the county-wide economic development and tourism organization, Phil understands the importance of keeping money circulating in the local economy. “We’re all in the same boat when it comes to the winter time in Stockbridge,” Phil says, “and there’s ample parking!”