Best of The Best: Rock of Ages
BY RAMONA MAREK | Published in the March 2014 issue
RANDY'S JEWELRY, O' FALLON, MO
A young girl holds a fossilized dinosaur egg from Randy Hudson's extensive and crowd-pulling collection.
Randy Hudson, president and founder of Randy’s Jewelry, in O’Fallon, MO, has something to show you, whether or not you’re in the market for jewelry. In fact, he’s got everything from arrowheads and an 84-million-year-old dinosaur egg to amethyst geodes. Local collectors come from miles around to see his collections in his store. His focus is on arrowheads, stone tools and other artifacts dating back approximately 15,000 years — but he also boasts an extensive mineral collection including amethyst geodes and uncut specimens of rubies, sapphires and, emeralds. His collection also includes fossils of leaves, fish, insects and a dinosaur egg nest.
THE IDEA: Twenty-three years ago during an excavation for a pond behind Hudson’s house, a stone pendant and several arrowheads were unearthed. Hudson excitedly talked to his neighbors and learned that in this agricultural area of Missouri people commonly find arrowheads in their plowed fields. His neighbors regularly allowed people to search their fields and Hudson dug in. “That began my quest to find tools of early man and my interest in archaeology. The lifelong interest I have for rocks turned into artifacts and then fossils.”
THE EXECUTION: There was no special event, advertisement or promotion about his collection displayed in the store; honestly, he feels it is just a safer location for it. Only after he put his first frame of artifacts on display did Hudson learn how populated the local area was in “found” artifacts. “Countless people brought in their personal finds, the ones their grandpa left in a box in the garage, basement or under the bed to share or learn their name and age affiliation, for example Mississippian periods.”Word-of-mouth brings in collectors and customers alike and a favorite activity is when a child gets to hold the dinosaur egg and guess what it is. “Guesses range from a brain, to a rock to once in a while even a dinosaur egg. They talk about it and of course they tell everyone the experience occurred at Randy’s Jewelry.”Hudson said the interest might be a matter of local geography because people often find arrowheads and implements in the mud in what once was an American Indian village or hunting site. “The thing I enjoy about archaeology the most is, yes, there’s a degree of science to it but it’s not all science, there’s also a lot of theory.”
THE REWARDS: “The biggest reward is in sharing with customers just how long man has been a part of our local landscape; from the evidence collected and also verified by arrowhead point type, early man found his way into Missouri at least 15,000 years ago. The other reward is the interest has created many opportunities to buy locally found artifacts, minerals and fossils, as well as treasures passed down through families.”Hudson said he didn’t choose to display his collection for financial gain, but he says it has benefited him nonetheless. Have collectors been converted into customers? “Yes. Initially they come to see the collection but many have also become regular jewelry customers,” he says. “They are in a jewelry store and they see the jewelry, next thing they bring in a repair and the next thing they come for an anniversary gift.”
DO IT YOURSELFShare your interests with customers. “It has paid off for me to share my rock collecting with my customers. If you collect, share!”Be prepared to talk about it. Customers like to bring in their own “finds” and talk about them. “A funny side to this is how wild of an imagination some people have. Many people bring in creek rocks that seem to have an angel etched on them, resemble a flying eagle or a wolf face. The girls get a kick out of calling me to the counter so that I can delicately explain it is common to see shapes or coloration changes in rocks, especially from creeks.” Hudson said the interest might be a matter of local geography because people often find arrowheads and implements in the mud in what once was an American Indian village or hunting site. “The thing I enjoy about archaeology the most is, yes, there’s a degree of science to it but it’s not all science, there’s also a lot of theory.”
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