NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – At Popular Jewelry, photos of hip-hop icons line the walls.
The Canal Street store was opened in 1988 by Eva Sam, who immigrated from Macau in 1982.
The first celebrity visitor to the little storefront was Cappadonna from the Wu-Tang Clan. Through referrals, a hip-hop client base began to grow.
After frequent visits from members of the hip-hop collective A$AP Mob, Eva earned an honorary title.
“My nickname is A$AP Eva,” she said.
Eva’s son Will grew up helping out in the store, welcoming customers and counting change to practice his math. These days, he helps his mother run the store. She attributes her success to a set of principles.
“You have to find a location [that’s] good. Second thing, you have to work hard, open early and close late. And then you have to have a big selection,” she said. “Work very [quickly]. No mistakes. Treat everybody like family.”
“She’s everybody’s mom. She’s always giving motherly advice to every customer that comes in,” Will said.
Many pieces are custom-made to suit expensive tastes.
“We can make any price the customer wants,” Eva said.
“If you want to put a million dollars into a piece, we can definitely do it,” Will said.
But reasonable options are also available.
“We have stuff under a hundred dollars, even, like a very simple gold chain or necklace. We have a selection of silver as well. Not everybody comes in with hundreds of thousands. We still serve mostly the local community. They’re the ones who have been supporting us . . . since we’ve been open.”
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For Will, there are benefits to working alongside his mother.
“It’s a family business. Sometimes, you get disagreements, but in the end, you’re still family,” he said.
“You can support each other,” Eva said.
255 Canal Street, Unit B
New York, NY 10013
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