CJ Duncan Jewelers Massillon 125 year downtown business

MASSILLON – After a dabble into the arts business ran its course, Brooke Longheier is getting back to jewelry store basics by rebuilding the downtown brand.

CJ Duncan Jewelers — one of the city’s longest running businesses — is celebrating 125 years in operation this month at its 24 Lincoln Way E home.

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“I feel young and refreshed,” said Longheier, who’s a few years into her ownership. “I’m getting things back to a little more of what it used to be.”

CJ Duncan Jewelers is celebrating its 125-year anniversary this month in downtown Massillon.

Longheier made the decision to take over the jewelry store for her father, Scott Longheier, who died of a heart attack in October 2018. The business originally opened by Curtis James Duncan is one of the city’s longest running operations — starting in 1897 — and has been a longtime pillar of downtown.

Longheier and her sister made the tough call early after their father’s passing to liquidate much of Duncan’s jewelry to keep the business afloat. In order for display cases and shelves in the store to stay stocked with merchandise, she sold artwork, antiques, paintings and craft items. But sales struggled.

Massillon’s downtown Streetscape project in summer 2019 closed the section of Lincoln Way E that abuts Duncan Jewelers, which greatly impacted foot traffic and store business, Longheier said. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic in spring 2020.

CJ Duncan Jewelers is building back its line of jewelry after much of its stock was liquidated a few years ago.

In September 2020, Longheier bought out her sister — who had a declining interest in the business — to become sole owner of the store. She had to sell some personal goods to complete the financial transaction.

“It’s been a rough three years. But we’re on the rebound,” Longheier said.

David Maley, Massillon’s economic development director, lauded CJ Duncan Jewelry for reaching its 125-year mark and called it a staple of downtown.

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