After the first of the year, the sign outside Las Savell Jewelry in Midtown should probably read: "Las Savell Makes Memphis a Better Place."
The man behind the Midtown jewelry institution at McLean and Union — and the sign outside that touts the good deeds of well-known Memphians and average Joes — is retiring from the business after 30 years. But Las Savell the store, which specializes in unique fine jewelry, will remain open.Flyer: How did you get into the jewelry business?
Las Savell: I was with Methodist Hospital for many years, and I didn't get fired, but I would have if I hadn't quit. They brought in a new CEO, and he brought in his own administrative crew. That left five or six of us out of a job.
I decided to try something new, so I started selling [jewelry] at flea markets. It grew from that into gold parties in people's homes. That grew into my first little store on Calhoun Street, right behind the Arcade Restaurant.
I stayed there for a year, and then I moved down on Union Avenue by Kimbrough Towers. I stayed there three years, and then I moved [to the current location] in 1984.
I'm 75 years old, and I've worked six or seven days a week for 30 years. I haven't had a chance to take vacations or trips. I want to be able to do that with my wife.
Are your dogs retiring, too?
They'll be "retiring" like me. If I want to go somewhere during the day, I'll drop them off [at the store]. They'll continue to do their good PR.
And will someone keep praising Memphians on your sign?
Yes, we'll still be using the sign. I'll be doing that.
What will you miss most about the store?
I'll miss working with customers. They're my friends. And I'll miss the nitty-gritty details of running the business.What will you do with your free time?
I don't really have a hobby, except music has been a great part of my and my wife's life. We both sing. We started out in the 1960s doing opera in Memphis, and we studied in Italy.
I also like to sculpt with clay, but I've never had any training in it. I must say I'm pretty good at it. I have a few pieces here in the store, and people who are recognized sculptors in town have complimented me on them. I just want to do what I want to do.