“We still like each other. I’ve never liked another person this long,” said Samantha (Sam) Steen as she poked her husband, Jim, chatting at a table in Spencer’s Coffee on Fountain Square in downtown Bowling Green.
The Steens own and operate Morris Jewelry, a local favorite that’s been a community staple since 1881. The iconic Morris Jewelry outdoor sign hangs in photos taken over a century ago. With over 130 years of history and stories to tell, the jewelry store is the oldest operating business in Bowling Green.
Jim and Sam Steen have been running the store since 2011. Not only do they help create memories for their customers celebrating special occasions and beautiful moments, but their own love story also began over a jewelry counter.
It was 2009. Jim was working as a bench jeweler in a Tullahoma, Tenn., store. Sam walked into his life as a customer with a ring repair. The magic was instant. They were married July 7, 2010, and moved back to Bowling Green, Jim’s hometown, to take advantage of a new opportunity to buy and run Morris Jewelry.
The Steens’ world revolves around their family. With five children, now ages between 13 and 26, the seven of them enjoy spending time together whenever possible. Friends, customers, and social media followers will notice the number “7” featured in several of Jim and Sam’s posts.
“Seven is how we blended our family,” Sam said. “We were married on “7-7” and there are seven of us. We put it on everything, even Christmas ornaments.”
Jim and Sam’s family also supports the jewelry store. The oldest son, Dallas, works in Morris Jewelry as a goldsmith. They’re hopeful their two youngest children, both in middle school, will be as excited and proud of the family business as they grow. The two others part of the “7” are both in active military service.
Morris Jewelry has been helping craft memories for people all over southern Kentucky for more than four generations. Part of the Morris experience is the opportunity to personalize diamonds specifically chosen for clients. Jim and Sam have taken the business global with buying trips to Antwerp, Belgium, the Diamond Capital of the World.
“It’s the best part of the business, being able to work with people individually and listen to what’s important to them to decide what goes on ‘her’ hand,” Jim said.
The Morris team goes through the process of hand-selecting a diamond for a client, Skypes internationally and sends photos of jewels to customers in real time, and then makes a video showcasing the experience for their clients to keep forever.
“After we moved here, we were talking about Antwerp diamonds and he (Jim) was like ‘Oh, your diamond is an Antwerp diamond.’ And I was like ‘And you’re just now telling me’,” Sam laughed.
While Jim’s life as a bench jeweler has been bringing joy to people’s lives for engagements, weddings, and special occasions, Sam also brings another element into the big picture of love and life with her photography business. While Sam does the books at the jewelry store and has traveled with Jim to buy jewels, she is also a trained doula and runs Samantha Steen Photography, a birth photography studio. The Steens truly help sculpt life-changing moments.
The Steen family also appreciates the traditions steeped into the Morris Jewelry culture. They could share stories all day of how they helped plan an engagement; how one customer has been stopping in for Christmas gifts for over thirty years; how four generations of one family visited the store together and talked about the jewelry that has been handed down through the years that all came from Morris; and so many more.
“We’ve even had puppy proposals. There was an adorable golden retriever that we pinned a $20 thousand dollar ring to and let him take it to the engagement on the square,” Jim said. “There was a couple who got both engaged and married inside the store.” Jim is even an ordained minister.
Jim, Sam, and the rest of the “7” embrace what it’s like to run a local family business. Things aren’t always easy and one another’s support is so important.
“You’ve got to expect change and roll with how things grow,” Jim said. “We don’t just make a sale. We build a relationship.”
“We’re opposites though, so we tend to compliment each other well,” piped Sam.
Raising their family in Bowling Green and shaping the lives of their customers-turned-friends, the Steens continue to write more chapters in the long-standing Morris Jewelry story.