Crown Jewel

Peek inside the Best Fashion Jewelry winner, Light Years.

Photo by Briana Brough

Walking into Light Years is like walking into your best friend’s jewelry box. The shop on East Franklin Street is the smallest of three locations, but every inch manages to catch your eye: rows of gold and silver studs and hoops lining the wall beside dainty charms and dramatic pendants, candles and other small gifts waiting on shelves beneath sun hats that dangle from the ceiling. And just as you do with your best friend and her favorite bracelet, you wind up saying, “Ooh, I love that! I want it!”

It happens every day, according to Assistant Manager Ashley Keaton, who says, “Customers come in and say, ‘I need to get a gift, but I have to get something for myself, too.’” And because everything is so affordable, Shift Leader Victoria Squires adds with a laugh, “They’ll say, ‘This one is a gift, and these three things are for me!’”

The store, founded and still owned by spouses Phyllis and Drew Maultsby, has thrived on Franklin for 30 years, enjoying a kind of longevity few retail places do. Manager Tess Kenlan chalks it up to the sweet relationship between the little shop and the eclectic mix of passersby, including “The funky people, the New Age people, the classic people. Everyone comes in and gets a positive vibe.” Ashley adds, “The store is very cozy, very homey.” And Victoria finishes the thought: “Very Chapel Hill.”

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