BIRMINGHAM – Butler Truax Jewelers, a full-service jewelry store in downtown Selma, was honored today by the Alabama Retail Association (ARA) as an Alabama Centennial Retailer, a retailer with 100 or more years in business in Alabama.
“For businesses to survive despite the dramatic changes of the past century is a remarkable achievement,” said ARA President Rick Brown. “It is fitting to celebrate the enduring contributions Butler Truax Jewelers has made to Selma and the surrounding community for almost two centuries.”
The store has been in continuous operation for 166 years, operating through the Civil War, the Great Depression and the Great Recession. The store has operated under six different names, all based on the name of the owners at the time. Four extended families have operated the business in four different locations all within the same downtown Selma block.
George L. and James R. Poor, Massachusetts brothers related to the nationally renowned Boston silversmiths, Jones, Ball & Poor, founded the store in 1845 on Broad Street in Selma. In 1859, the Poor brothers sold the store to Bostonian Samuel Freeman Hobbs. Near the beginning of the Civil War, Hobbs married the mayor’s daughter. He served in the Confederate Army, while all his brothers fought for the Union. While his wife saved the store’s treasurers by turning over costume jewelry to the Union soldiers and keeping the real stuff sewn in her petticoat, S.F. Hobbs turned the jewelry store over to his younger brother, E.H. Hobbs in 1870. The store’s name changed to Hobbs & McGill Jewelers in 1915 when E.H. Hobb’s son-in-law, Truman McGill, joined the firm. In 1932, the Hobbs/McGill family sold the business to the store’s jeweler, I.J. Hix. Mr. Hix continued to operate the store until his death in 1964. A group of businessmen, including Roger Butler, purchased the store with the intention of saving a historic local business. The group hired Roger Butler to manage the store. Several years later, Roger and Dolly Butler bought out the other partners. The Butlers daughter and son-in-law, Doris and Jim Truax, purchased the business in 2002 and continue to operate it today.
In 2002, the store moved into a building that formerly housed Selma’s S.H. Kress & Co. department store. The Art Deco structure built in 1929 at the beginning of the Great Depression was the first of a wave of historic renovations in downtown Selma.
Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce nominated Butler Truax Jewelers as a Centennial Retailer.
The Alabama Retail Association presents awards annually to Centennial Retailers. To notify ARA of a retail business that has been in operation for 100 years or more, please contact Nancy Dennis at (800) 239-5423.
PHOTO: Current owners, Jim and Doris Truax, and Sheryl Smedley with the Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce.
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>> Previously awarded Centennial Retailers
Doris and Jim Truax, Butler Truax Jewelers | 334.874.4616
Nancy Dennis, Alabama Retail Association | 334.263.5757 Ext. 101 | 800.239.5423