For 34 years, Jude and Janet Smith have owned and operated one of Gettysburg’s most unique shops. J.S. Smith Company, named for Janet Sarah Smith, opened its doors on May 17, 1983 in Old Gettysburg Village, at 777 Baltimore Street. Because they opened so close to summer, “We had a crowd before we even knew how to handle a crowd,” Jude remembers.
Jude, a Navy veteran, a retired park ranger and middle school teacher, wanted his wife to have a store to operate because her job at the time, working for a publishing house, was far too physically taxing. In the ensuing years, the family owned and operated several establishments in Gettysburg, from a Christmas shop to a fudge kitchen. By early next year, this last store will find new owners.
“It’s time,” Jude says. Last year, the family lost Janet after a long battle with cancer. “Janet’s death was an awakening to what life’s really all about.”
J.S. Smith offers an ample variety of gift ideas for all visitors to Gettysburg. “We have something for everybody,” Jude says. “It’s our motto.”
One of the most popular items at the shop is the array of handmade kepis in their extensive Civil War section, making replicas after studying diaries and other written documentation. They also offer other Civil War era hats, cords, and pins for the headgear, both military and civilian. They have a Gettysburg section – also popular – and many gift items pertaining to the era for which Gettysburg is known.
J.S. Smith boasts several interesting sections in their shop: a Sports Center with items for fans of local pro teams; a memorabilia section with items from Hollywood to Elvis, with a special emphasis on Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. There is a Trading Post, replete with purses, belts, and other leather goods, a Christmas Corner, a toy section for kids and a jewelry section with the newest items in earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more. Some of the jewelry is handmade locally by Jude’s daughter Lori. His daughter Tracy manages J.S. Smith and is likely the one customers first meet upon entering the shop.
Minnetonka Moccasins, though, are the biggest draw for the store. When the Smiths purchased the shop in 1983, it was already a Minnetonka store – and they have continued with the popular brand.
“It’s going to be sad,” Jude says. "We will miss everybody we've met over the years."
Almost everything is on sale – many of the items are significantly reduced.
J.S. Smith Company is open daily from Palm Sunday to Thanksgiving from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Winter hours are weather permitting.
Before the Smiths bid farewell to the business, be sure to stop in and visit them, and see why for 34 years, customers have enjoyed this unique shop.