After almost 50 years of fixing watches and jewelry, Sharon McMullan is putting down her blowtorch.
The owner of Sharon’s Jewellery and Watch Repair will close her doors at the end of October, partly due to her age and a lack of business in recent years. The shuttering of the local mills and the recent fire seasons have reduced her usual traffic, she said, while COVID-19 has driven many people to shop for jewelry online.
“At my age, my health hasn’t been the greatest so I figure it’s time to go out to pasture,” McMullan, 79, said. “I can’t keep up with this anymore, it’s a young people’s job.”
McMullan got her own start in jewelry in Quesnel, where she met her future business partner Del Fisher. Fisher’s father, Lester Crumb, owned Regal Jewellers, where McMullan said she learned “quite a bit” about watch and jewelry repairs.
“I worked there for a while fixing watches and fixing rings,” McMullan said. “From there I went and took a course with a jeweller from Vancouver and I worked under him for two weeks learning everything about repairing jewelry.”
Although she spent some time in Santa Monica studying gemology she never really got into designing her own jewelry but instead focused on becoming skilled at fixing the work of others.
Crumb eventually moved to 100 Mile House to open up a jewelry shop, which Fisher and McMullan took over when he “wanted to go fishing all the time.” The two of them were like “one big happy family” and ran the business together, with Fisher handling the sales while McMullan provided the technical skills in the back.
“Del was very good at sales and purchasing jewelry. I just took to fixing watches and jewellery.”
The pair spent 20 years at the Cariboo Mall before Fisher eventually retired due to health reasons. Undeterred, McMullan decided to keep the business going and moved it to Birch Avenue where she’s been for the last 29 years.
McMullan said she loves the challenge of her work and the eye for detail it requires. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can melt a gold chain down in three seconds or pop diamonds out of a ring if you try to resize it to small or too big, she said.
With watches, meanwhile, if you touch the wrong component their whole inner workings can be ruined. Repair work requires keeping your wits about you and a healthy dose of patience, McMullan said, as you use a series of tiny screwdrivers and a press to put everything back together.
Although she is closing the business, McMullan intends to do repair work on the side as long as she can. Even as her shop enters the final two months of being open, she said she’s seen a surge in repair work requests from her customer base.
“I enjoy the people and I like fixing and repairing things for them,” McMullan said. “It’s making people happy. If you repair their jewelry and their watches and it makes them happy then you feel good.”