Jewell welcomes two more gems in a vintage setting

—Messenger photo by Billie Shelton
The Monkey Puzzle Mercantile is operated by Hagen Watts and his family. The shop, at 632 Main St., Jewell, joins five other vintage shops on Main Street to give the town a growing popularity with destination shoppers.

JEWELL — For several years now, Main Street in the Hamilton County town of Jewell has been building a reputation as a destination for fans of vintage, collectibles and antiques.

The recent addition of two new such shops brings to a total of six businesses in the 600 block of Main Street that offer plenty of opportunity to search for the perfect find.

Urban Heirlooms

Urban Heirlooms, located in the former Family Pharmacy building at 633 Main St., opened in March. In the spacious, bright interior of the store, owner April Ewing tastefully displays an eclectic mix of unique pieces.

Before coming to Jewell, she had a shop in Boone for five years.

—Messenger photo by Billie Shelton
April Ewing with some of the inventory in her shop, Urban Heirlooms, located at 633 Main St., Jewell, one of six vintage shops in the 600 block.

“I tried to get into a place in Jewell for a year,” she said, adding that she also has a store in the North Grand Mall in Ames and formerly had a booth at the antique mall in Story City.

What’s Ewing’s theory on why vintage is popular currently?

“Vintage is cool. It’s also recycling,” she said. “I think we have to thank TV shows and magazines for its popularity right now.”

Vintage pieces are getting harder to find, she said. She finds her pieces wherever she can, including sales and estate auctions.

Occasionally she cleans out a house for someone moving to a nursing home.

Ewing, who lives in Randall with her husband, is happy to be part of downtown Jewell.

“Other businesses on this block have been amazing and welcoming,” she said. “And the community has stopped by the say hello.

“I enjoy how the other (vintage) businesses work together. There’s no competing with each other,” she said. “Everyone has something different, and we’re supportive of each other.”

Ewing also praised JADE — Jewell Area Development Enterprise — for its assistance with getting her new business up and going.

“JADE is amazing,” she said. “Other Chambers of Commerce should model after them.”

Customers to Urban Heirlooms come from the local area as well as out of town, according to Ewing, with most buyers at her store women in their 20s to mid-40s.

“I sell to teenagers all the way up to Baby Boomers, even college students,” she said.

Ewing will custom paint and finish furniture pieces.

The Monkey Puzzle Mercantile

Across the street from Urban Heirlooms, customers at The Monkey Puzzle Mercantile see much the same age range of customers.

The business, open since April, is located in an historic Jewell building that most recently housed a photography studio.

Hagen Watts is part of what he calls the multigenerational family business that features a wide variety of collectibles, furniture, decorative arts and antiques.

When his mother and sister were out searching for collectibles, they saw that the Jewell building was for sale and decided to open The Monkey Puzzle. Although Watts says they have previously sold antiques and collectibles online, this is their first brick-and-mortar store.

The building also has space to house the family.

Watts relocated from Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

Just as Ewing said that each of the Jewell shops has something different, Watts claims that his is “more than a vintage store. We have original finds, antiques, things from all over the world.

“There are things here from South Carolina, Maine and Florida, a from all over,” he said.

The variety is obvious with a look around the store.

He shows items as varied as an oriental chest, vintage toys, a dial telephone, Imari porcelain china, and a kitchen cupboard.

For most of the stock, Watts can remember where it was found — in someone’s barn, perhaps, or in a long-time small-town bakery that went out of business and no longer needed a five-foot-long wood dough bowl.

“We’re pickers,” Watts said. “We like stuff that has a story, original history.”

Watts also praised JADE and its efforts to assist them with establishing another Main Street business.

“They have helped us out with all kinds of things. Both JADE and the community have bent over backward.”

The Watts family bought its building from JADE.

The Jewell shops are open Fridays from noon to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m.

Watts plans to add Thursday evenings this summer.

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