Jim Morgan, owner of Morgan Jewelers in Newnan, has overcome trials and challenges throughout his life, but in the midst of moving his business to a new location, he began facing a personal health battle.
The journey begins in the early days with Jim Morgan’s father, Fred, who worked at Lazenby’s on the court square in downtown Newnan when, back then, there were six jewelry stores. There Jim observed his father complete watch and jewelry repairs, while also conducting sales.
In 1962 Fred and Josephine Morgan opened Morgan Jewelers where the current day Let Us Eat Toffee is located. Several years later Morgan Jewelers moved to the former Perrell’s Clothing Store and Jim Morgan went on to attend several jewelry schools, including one at Homer Holland in Selma, Alabama. He eventually graduated with a gemological degree.
Years later, while attending the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, California, he visited a lifestyle center called the Forum and was approached by the shopping center developer, Mr. Stan Thomas who at the time was creating a similar concept in Newnan, Georgia, which is present-day Ashley Park. Stan asked Jim if he would like to put a jewelry store at the new center.
Soon thereafter Morgan Jewelers opened a second Newnan location where Firehouse Subs is today. That location opened in 2006 as the first tenant of Ashley Park’s Phase One development. Mr. Thomas then mentioned to Jim that Phase Two would be completed soon and they were welcome to move next to Dillard’s if they wanted to. This would be the time that Jim’s father passed away, and so his brother Jeff Morgan then split the business, Jim taking the Ashley Park location and Jeff overseeing the downtown Newnan location.
Morgan Jewelers soon moved into the space adjacent to Dillard’s as what is now part of Ashley’s Park’s Phase Two. Almost a year after the move, the banks and real estate market were in turmoil with the 2008 recession. Stan Thomas, the former developer of Ashley Park, sold it to another company; and within five years, Morgan Jewelers opted out of the Ashley Park lease and moved to Thomas Crossroads, near Kroger. Jim says, “It used to be about location, location, location. That’s not true anymore. You can be anywhere with social media, and you can jump into your smart car and get where you want to go. You can still be successful.”
In 2017 Jim purchased the trophy shop from his sister just before her passing. He tells us they will now use the equipment including engraving machines from the trophy shop at their new location at 1485 Highway 34 East, Suite 12A at the White Oak Center.
He says, “My move here is primarily for more room for the trophy parts and pieces that I have currently sitting in my garage and storage containers. They will be part of the move into our new space. It all ties into one another, with the same types of work. Personalized products are very popular right now and we will have the capability to do it all.”
After 12 years of vacancy, the space at White Oak was found by Jim’s real estate friend, Mrs. Christy Stout. He notes, “Along with my wife Angie. we have plenty of energy and started working on this and made the decision to start the buildout; then low and behold here comes COVID-19. Things started getting really nervous around here. We had already bought items in March from vendors at the jewelry show in Atlanta.” After the jewelry show, the shutdown of Georgia and many other states occurred, leaving all the other jewelry shows Jim and Angie had planned to attend, cancelled, so they redirected their focus on their latest move.
Another battle was brewing in the background that Jim was on the verge of learning about. Jim, also a current wrestling coach at Newnan High School tells us that he had experienced issues running up and down stairs at a regional wrestling tournament back in February. He had blood drawn, and that along with biopsy reports confirmed his diagnosis was a form of cancer, myelofibrosis that attacks the bone marrow which produces blood cells that carry oxygen . He says, “Urgency then kicked into high gear to open the store. I’ve always been in good health, I have worked out every day, and now I have a one-in-800,000 rare blood disease.”
Jim decided to proceed with a bone marrow stem cell transplant that would take him out of work for up to 120 days. He was put on a donor list and received a call back the same day from Emory. More business-related trials were also setting in at this time, and in order to pay his employees during the pandemic to help open the new store, he applied for the Payroll Protection Program loan and was approved. He says,
“The loan was not enough to pay employees to make the move, Angie and I along with one other employee with help from members and coaches from the wrestling team did the manual labor of moving the store.” Jim goes on to say, “I had to make a choice between my life or business. Now, my wife Angie will have to be my caretaker,and I’ll be in the hospital for 30 days, and out of commission for another 120 days. I’ve got all the tools to make it back to work. I have 30 to 60 days before I go into the hospital, and Angie and I along with all my incredible team members will get the store going.”
Jim leaves us with this, “When adversity hits you, run towards it, rather than run away from it. Once you have wrestled, everything else in life is easier. Stay in the fight. We absolutely love our customers– they keep us going. We are emotionally attached to every sale we do because we are passionate about the joy we receive when giving and helping.”
Morgan Jewelers is now open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at 1485 Highway 34 East, Suite 12A, in the White Oak Center.