South Carolina

Century-old 5 Points business to close

Sylvan & DuBose Jewelers in Five Points is closing after nearly a century in business.

Owner Bruce DuBose is retiring., and his children, Matthew and Laura, who are the fifth generation to work at the store, don’t want to take over the business, he said.

“”I’m old,” DuBose, 68, said with a laugh. “I’m tired. I don’t want to do it anymore.”

The store at 622 Harden St. will close at the end of the year, he said.

“But it will probably take me a year and a half to clean this place out so I can rent it out,” he said. “And it won’t be to a bar.”

The west side of the 600 block of Hardin Street is dominated by six bars. Sylvan & DuBose joins a bank, salon, tax service and a new CBD dispensary as the only retailers on the block.

DuBose had briefly sued several bars for causing a nuisance in the area. That suit has since been settled as the bars have either closed or stated their intent to re-brand themselves as restaurants.

DuBose said he is not closing because of the number of bars in the area.

“I still think Five Points is one of the finest places to do business,” he said. “We just need more businesses down here.”

Kelsey Desender, executive director of the Five Points Association, callled Sylvan & DuBose “the kind of small, family owned businesses that have chosen to make Five Points home for over a century.

“We are certainly sad to see them go and wish them best wishes in retirement,” she said. “The 600 block of Harden Street is an integral part of Five Points and one that is undergoing a period of transition. We look forward to new retail businesses moving in to replace the ones that move on that are able to continue serving the diverse and vibrant neighborhoods that surround our village.”

The Sylvan and DuBose story actually began in the 1890s, when Swedish brothers Gus, Johanness and Emil Sylvan left Sweden for America and, after a stint in Savannah, migrated to Columbia. In 1897, the brothers founded Sylvan’s Jewelers on Main Street, which today is now arguably Columbia’s oldest business.

But the brothers had a falling out, and in 1922 Bruce DuBose’s great-grandfather Emil split off and opened a watch and clock repair shop, with his son-in-law Eugene DuBose, in the basement of Sylvan’s home on Senate Street.

Sylvan’s 1.jpg
Syllvan and Dubose first opened in the basement of this Senate Street home Courtesy of Sylvan & DuBose

In 1940, the business moved to 2013 Greene St. in Five Points — the building that now houses Publico.

In 1947 it moved to 642 Hardin St. and then to its present location.

Sylvan’s 2.jpg
Courtesy of Sylvan & DuBose

“I have been on the 600 block of Harden Street all of my life,” DuBose said, adding, “I won’t miss the struggle of being a small businessman. But I’m really going to miss the people who come in.”

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Jeff Wilkinson has worked for The State for both too long and not long enough. He’s covered politics, city government, history, business, the military, marijuana and the Iraq War. Jeff knows the weird, wonderful and untold secrets of South Carolina. Buy him a shot and he’ll tell you all about them.
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