In the heart of Fourth Avenue you can find Silver Sea Jewelry, a sea-themed jewelry store inviting you to come in and take a look at its treasures.
Located on 330 N. Fourth Ave., Silver Sea Jewelry has been in operation for about 27 years now. The shop is owned by Tucson native Lizzie Mead.
According to Mead, she started the business in 1993 at a kiosk in the Tucson Mall and was there for 10 years. For three of the 10 years, she had another kiosk at the Foothills Mall. Mead said she then decided to move downtown to Congress Street and Sixth Avenue. She said she always wanted to have her shop on Fourth Avenue, but didn’t think she could. There was an opening in the location she is in now, she took it and she has been there for 11 and a half years.
Due to the pandemic, Mead said they decided to close March 17 and have been closed ever since. However, she said they have been having “home shopping shows” on Facebook Live. The next shows are scheduled for Sept. 20 and Sept. 27.
“We are working to make our small space safer, by putting in plexi and such,” Mead said. “When the numbers get better, we are golden to reopen. Our current target is Oct. 1.”
Mead said the pandemic has affected Silver Sea Jewelry by making it challenging to stay in business. She also said not being able to see her customers in person was difficult. She said she never thought having the shop closed would still result in so much work.
The shop sells all kinds of jewelry in a wide variety of styles. The styles range from classic jewelry, bohemian, hippie and even biker jewelry. In addition to jewelry they also sell some bath and body products and different pieces of artwork.
Mead said that she has always liked to create. She recalled being a young child and following the telephone guy around waiting for him to drop pieces of wire so she could turn them into little rings and bracelets.
“I like to make things. I’ve always turned things into other things,” Mead said.
Mead said that she makes about 25% of the handmade jewelry in the shop. The rest of the jewelry comes from local artists, regional, national and global imports. She said although they have jewelry from everywhere, there is a “local focus” to it. The people who work at the store are also makers and create things to sell in the shop.
Shawn Gorritz, an employee of Silver Sea Jewelry, is an artist and musician who has lived in Tucson for about 10 years.
Gorritz works as a cashier at the store and helps run the social media for the business. She also has some of her artwork and jewelry in the shop.
Gorritz said that Mead is one of the most “impressive” business owners she has seen. She said she appreciated how Mead runs her shop so unique to her personality.
“You really won’t find anything like the jewelry and gifts you’ll find at Silver Sea Jewelry,” Gorritz said in an email. “Lizzie hand picks every piece of jewelry, makes her own jewelry and sells locally made jewelry, art and crafts.”
Gorritz said that another thing that makes the shop unique is that it is “not just a jewelry shop.” She said that Mead gives back to the community through the store.
In the shop, Mead runs a small pet food pantry. She has free dog and cat food, booties, collars and leashes available for anyone who may be in need of it. She and her friends also have a nonprofit to raise money by selling “one of a kind bracelets” for a different animal charity every month. Her love for pets has helped raise over $228,000 for animal charities.
Mead has served on the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association Inc. and has also organized events to bring people together in the Fourth Avenue area. One of these events is called “Return of the Mermaids.” In this event, adults and children are invited to dress up, play games and buy from local vendors.
Being so involved at Fourth Avenue, Mead feels the impact the pandemic has had on the district as a whole.
“I imagine the district will bounce back, everyone is so proactive and resourceful,” Mead said. “In the meantime, there’s tons of ways to enjoy Fourth Avenue offerings safely, order a book to pick up, have things shipped to you, order tasty takeout.”
Mead’s love for the ocean is what inspired the nautical theme of the store.
“I think that even though we don’t have any ocean here I think we long for it,” Mead said. “There’s something charming about a beach side shop and I think it’s still charming in the middle of the desert.”
Artist Danuta Jakubowski is part of an art studio called Brush Fire Fine Art and has been selling her artwork at Silver Sea Jewelry for about five years.
She sells her paintings and prints at the store, and she said that a lot of her “peculiar” items go there. She said that the store has a lot of “out there” clientele and that she has a lot of “out there” artwork.
“I tend to spend everything I make, here at the store,” Jakubowski said.
Mead said that although starting a business was not something she envisioned for her future, it has been good for her.
“It wasn’t the plan, but I think that it has been very fulfilling,” Mead said. “People should come see the store because it’s so different.”
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