Mike Hege is often found in the back of his Rock Hill jewelry shop, repairing rings and watches and creating unique pieces for his longtime customers.
It’s a site that speaks to a sentiment that has been passed down for generations; that customer service is the number one priority.
Hege will fix anything he can, regardless of where the piece was bought.
“One thing we emphasize is service,” Hege said. “We do everything in house. That’s what daddy always emphasized.”
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Hege’s dad, Norman, founded Norman Hege Jewelers, a jewelry store and repair shop that has been a staple in the Rock Hill business community for nearly 70 years.
For more than 30 years, the Hege family has served customers at its 143 Herlong Ave. location.
Norman passed away a decade ago, but his wife Kathleen Hege continued to work there until she was 83, said her daughter Linda Gordon. Gordon now runs the shop with her brother Mike.
“Mamma worked every day,” Gordon said.
Kathleen passed away Sunday at age 93.
The store will remain open and run by the siblings, who have led it for the last 10 years, Gordon said.
“We’re keeping it open. It’s ours,” she said. “I said I wasn’t going to be here after mama, but I’m here. I guess I’ll be here until I’m 83.”
Gordon was six months old when her parents moved to Rock Hill, she said.
Norman Hege, who attended watchmaker school in Winston-Salem, N.C., started his jewelry store in 1951 in a closet-sized space at one of his father’s Rock Hill bus stations. E.O. Woodie owned Parkway bus company in West Jefferson, N.C. and Southern bus company in Rock Hill, according to the Hege family.
“He had a little shop in the corner of a bus station. That’s how he started,” Gordon said.
Hege also has a long history with the store, staring out at about 10 years old cleaning for his parents.
The store has seen generations of Hege children and grandchildren come through. When Kathleen was there, four generations were working the store, Gordon said.
“All the grandchildren at one time or other has tried to work here for a little bit,” she said.
That’s what keeps customers like Wanda Matthews coming back. She has been coming to Norman Hege Jewelers for jewelry and repairs for more than 20 years.
“It is a family owned business and that’s not something that you have anymore around here,” said Matthews, who lives in Rock Hill. “I just like the people here; they’re very nice, and they do everything you ask them to do.”
Norman Hege Jewelers has been a top choice for local residents to find wedding rings, watches, baby jewelry and more.
“People new in the area ask around, and we’re one of the ones they are told to come to,” Gordon said.
Hege said he still gets repair requests from customers who have moved away, from as far as California and even Dubai.
With their parents gone, the Hege siblings will continue their legacy of customer service and quality.
“I wanted to continue to give the service to the customers,” Mike Hege said. “Its kind of a dying art, anyone repairing anything. I want to be here as long as I can to be there for the customers.”