Soul of RVA: How one of Richmond’s oldest Black-owned businesses has stood the test of time

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — If you walk into Waller and Company Jewelers in Richmond, chances are you’ll find Richard Waller Jr. planted behind a desk, with tools in hand, repairing vintage watches. You could also find him behind a showcase, displaying gold, silver, and gemstone jewelry to customers.

At 83 years old, Waller Jr. still finds joy in fixing watches and selling fine jewelry to the Richmond community, but he says that flame was ignited by his grandfather back in 1900.

“He had fixed his grandmother’s watch. He insisted that he could fix it, and so she did,” Waller Jr. recalled. “From there on … he loved repairing things.”

Richard Waller Jr. works on a project inside his shop, Waller and Company Jewelers in Richmond. (Photo: 8News)

With that, his grandfather, Marcellus Carrington Waller, taught himself how to fix all types of watches and clocks, and eventually opened up his own shop.

Waller Jr. explained, though, that it was no easy task for a black man to own a business during that time. He says his grandfather often faced discrimination when it came to buying parts for his merchandise.

“A lot of places here in Richmond wouldn’t sell to him until 1925, so he had to get the parts out of New York,” he said. “Before New York, though, he had to make everything.”

However, Waller Jr said his grandfather was resilient and determined to succeed. And it’s that determination that has led Waller and Company Jewelers to become the oldest black-owned jewelry and watch repair shop in Richmond.

“We just believe in giving our customers good service. Everyone that comes in here is like family,” he said.

And for Walker and Company, family is certainly at the center of the business as it has been operated by four generations thus far.

David Waller, the son of Richard Waller Jr, said they hope to continue the legacy of quality service, determination, and a family atmosphere.

“We really just want to continue that legacy over the next 100 years and keep expanding,” he said.

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