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Gem Den on the move, to be placed in Polo's Building

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

The longest-standing sole proprietor in St. James is on the move for the first time in 42 years.

The Gem Den, located along First Avenue South, is moving across the street into the Polo's Building at the start of 2021.

Owner of the Gem Den Ed Mays found out the news of the move on September 27th.

"It was a surprise," said Mays. "A gentleman came in and said that he had bought the building and that our lease was up at the end of the year and that we had to be out of the store by then. So it took me by surprise."

The original location of the Gem Den was located about five blocks north compared to where it is now, where the old Fleet and Farm used to be. Mays says being on First Avenue South is where the Gem Den was always supposed to be, and where his business really took off.

"Being on main street is where it was supposed to be. We've had a good run here and moving across main street is going to be very beneficial also for us."

With the holiday season coming up, typically very busy for the Gem Den,

Mays says he is excited to set up shop in the new digs, and thanks the work done by the city to help find a spot for his business.

"It's the best building available," said Mays. "We approached the city when we found out that we had to be out of here by the end of the year. We talked to Joe McCabe who was the acting EDA Director and is a chamber member and asked them if they had any places we could possibly move our business to."

"We checked out a couple of other locations and they said we can make this happen for you. They've been working with us and just going at it to accommodate us. We appreciate very much the work that the city and people have gone through to get us into a location when we need to, otherwise, I don't know where I'd go with everything."

The move represents closure to a year in which the Gem Den had to close down temporarily due to COVID-19.

"COVID kind of stunk. We were completely shut down for two months. We were one of the few businesses in the county that had to shut down. Outside of a few appointments, we were completely dried up. Since we've reopened again, business has come along. We're seeing our customers come back in. Business has been very good and October is going to be our best October in our 46-year history."

Mays doesn't anticipate the move affecting business near the holidays, typically the busiest time for the Gem Den every year.

With Christmas falling on a Friday this year, that affords Mays, his staff, and a moving company the weekend to move the merchandise across the way.

"There are about 100 different things that need to be done, but we're just taking it step by step."

Mays hopes to move non-essential items by mid-December.

The building should be ready for the Gem Den when they move in in late December. The Gem Den hopes to open its new site on January 2nd.