Written by Sally I Barceló
Photography by Dan Austin
With over 50 years of experience, Rosalie McCloud continues to share the joy of gift wrapping at one of Lakeland’s most iconic storefronts.
An exquisitely wrapped gift is truly a beautiful thing to behold, and every year for the past few decades, from one celebration to the next, Gaines Jewelers iconic gift wrapping is what their most loyal customers look forward to in the Gaines experience.
There’s something beautiful about creating with your hands, in a society where most of the things in our lives are mass-produced, a handmade product has a special kind of appreciation. For over 50 years, Lakelander Rosalie McCloud (Rosie) has been creating exquisite handmade gift wrapping bows at Gaines Jewelers.
McCloud started working for Mrs. Gaines’s family in the ’50s and then eventually transitioned to the family business, Gaines Jewelers, in 1961. McCloud’s first role at the store was assisting with the upkeep of the store and as time went by her interest in gift wrapping and bow making piqued. “I watched other ladies in the store gift wrap and thought to myself well if they can do it I can do it too”, says McCloud. It wasn’t long until McCloud became head of the gift wrapping department and since then she is still creating some of Gaines’s most iconic and beautiful gift wrapping.
Her stories are plenty, she vividly remembers the salesman who would walk in the shop to sell the special kind of ribbon needed to create beautiful gift wrap bows and flowers. “He brought these sales pamphlets with instructions for the different kinds of designs, flowers, and bows you could make”, says McCloud.
It’s not just her craft in gift wrapping that makes McCloud special but rather the legacy that she carries with her as the longest-standing employee of Gaines Jewelers. At 85 years old, McCloud has watched Gaine’s and the downtown area grow.
She’s watched technology and processes shift and evolve over time, “I remember when our inventory came through the railroad, our china came in barrels. Yes, right on these tracks, here in downtown”, explains Rosie. The shipment would be dropped off at one of the nearby buildings which was the designated drop-off depot and then placed on a cart to be rolled down to the shop.
Over the years, even the inventory has changed to fit the needs of customers.
Rosie says that the store used to carry a stock of sterling silverware, the kind that was heavy and needed to be polished after each use. “We sold whole place settings of silverware, brides would register for 8-piece place settings. In addition, we also sold a lot of silver holloware, goblets, and candelabras.”
Silver holloware is any item that is not flatware. Holloware includes all different types of tableware items, including candlesticks, teapots, coffee pots, creamer sets, pitchers, platters, etc.
During our interview, Rosie took a look around at the store and shared how different the store is today than what it used to be. She explains that the shop’s mission remains the same but with the coming and going of every generation, taste and styles evolve and they have had to remain nimble to the customer’s products of choice and their desired shopping experience.
A legend, Rosalie McCloud is an important part of the Gaines Jewelers family, her sweet and hardworking spirit transcends in every area of her life. She is a mom of five, a grandmother, and still remains an employee of Gaine’s Jewelers.