(GREENSBORO, N.C.) - Lorraine Dodds is 94 years old. She’s a businesswoman, soft and elegant like the cozy, boutique-like store she owns and loves. And she has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Her shop, nicely situated between a busy commercial avenue and the stately Irving Park neighborhood in the city of Greensboro, N.C., Lorraine’s Karat Gold Corner stands quietly and modestly as it has for decades. Nestled between Edward Jones Investments and the popular clothing shop Dress Code, its emerald green awning welcomes customers from all over, time and time again.Inside, pastel pink and floral upholstered chairs, seafoam carpet, delicate wallpaper, white curtains and fresh roses are all offset by soft lamp light. It’s like walking into a well-appointed and cherished home.
Decades in the Business
Lorraine, who speaks with a Minnesota accent, spent her early years in the Midwest before heading east to central North Carolina over half a century ago. “My father was a jeweler in Minnesota,” she says. “His grandfather was a manufacturing jeweler in Frankfurt, Germany. That’s how I got started.
“I worked in a family-owned jewelry store in Kansas City for a little while during the war, a beautiful store named Jaccards, which no longer exists. They were so good to me. I learned a lot there, about silver and other things.
“I got married and moved to Greensboro in 1954. I went into a local jewelry store one day 55 years ago to buy a baby gift. We were talking, and I told the owner about my history, and he asked me if I’d like to work for the store. And I did, for 15 years.
“When I was 54, I thought I might quit and travel with my husband, David, who was a manufacturer’s rep. I said I wished I had a little spot of my own. And I have loved it.”
David, who died in 1988, helped Lorraine with her business in Karat Gold Corner. Like any one of her returning customers, Lorraine’s husband enjoyed being around the store.
The Dog Days
In the old days, customers were delighted to visit three dogs that spent their days at Karat Gold Corner.
“For years,” Lorraine says, “I had three Schnauzers, first Suzy and then Suzy and Katie, that came to the store.
“Then, I got Maggie, and she was wonderful. She was the last one. She was so cute, had the cutest personality, and the people really liked her.”
Maggie resembled a little stuffed dog that sits beside one of the shop’s upholstered chairs. “She looked kind of like that little stuffed Schnauzer,” Lorraine says. “Someone next door gave me that Schnauzer for Christmas when Maggie was still living.
“Maggie just loved everybody.”
Loving Her Work
These days, there are no four-legged hosts to greet customers. But the people keep coming, eager to do business with a gentle, unassuming woman who has a wealth of experience. Lorraine, honored as a fellow by the American Gemological Society, isn’t one to seek publicity, but she’s gracious to share her story.
“I’m 94,” Lorraine says with a twinkle in her eye, “and I don’t want to quit. I don’t come in early like I used to, but I come in every day, five days a week.”
Lorraine works with one employee but plans to hire another soon.
“I suppose I’ll have to quit someday,” she says, “but I have no plans to retire. It’s wonderful.
“I’m a certified gemologist. I just love learning about the stones and treatments.
“I love the people. I love the story of the gems, but it’s working with people that I love the best.”
For more information about Karat Gold Corner, Inc., you can call 336-272-2325 or visit the store at 1809 Pembroke Road, Greensboro, NC 27408.