Donna Chesney Loggins
Store opening in current location February 1940
Ernest and Virginia Chesney
Ernest at his watch bench
Local. Since 1924.
Chesney’s Jewelry is a fixture at 241 E. Brazos in West Columbia. The business was opened in 1924 by Ernest Chesney who at age 18 borrowed $250 to buy the store from his stepfather, T. H. Causey who taught him the business of watchmaking. After his marriage to Virginia Brunner six years later, they ran the business together. The original store front was located on the West Columbia boardwalk where their daughter Donna was known as “the boardwalk baby.” The family lived in the back of the original store until they relocated to a new home when Donna was 2 years old. The boardwalk was removed in the early 1940s and Chesney’s is one of the few remaining businesses from the boardwalk days. Its current location is right down the street from the original location.
After the death of Ernest in 1966 Virginia ran the business with her daughter, Donna Ruth Chesney Loggins. In 1977 when Virginia was ready to retire Donna bought the store from her mother and has been there ever since. She is planning to celebrate the store’s 100th birthday in 2024!
Chesney’s has carried a variety of inventory over the years from jewelry to small appliances to luggage and gift ware. As its primary focus, jewelry has been a mainstay of the business. As larger competitors have moved closer to this small community, and with the introduction of internet purchasing, it has become more difficult to carry a large inventory of fine jewelry. However, Donna works hard to keep customers satisfied by ordering special items and looking for exactly what the customer desires. This gives personal service to the customer and helps the business maintain its reputation of great service and personal touches.
Over the years gift ware has drawn customers from near and far. The store carries unique and eclectic items that may be just what someone needs or just must have! There are vintage items mixed with modern and everything in between. You may find a fine crystal bowl in one showcase and a frog on a motorcycle in the next. Each visit to the store offers both old and new items to peruse. Customers who visit the store for the first time in many years often comment that the store feels just how they remember it!
Wedding registries are still offered at Chesney’s. As many modern couples register online, Donna continues to order china, pottery ware, flatware and crystal as couples come in to register. It certainly makes it easy for hometown friends of the couple to call in or come in to choose the perfect piece for a shower or wedding.
Moving into the world of online selling is a new endeavor for the nine-decade old business. But many things will never change. Every purchase will continue to include free gift wrap! The signature bows and ribbon roses will still be there. As they are recognized by many who have received gifts from the store previously it brings back memories of Virginia sitting at the counter making ribbon roses to be used in the gift wrap. That tradition of ribbon roses continues, and Donna’s great granddaughters have even recently asked to learn the unique skill. Personal touch will always be the focus of the business.