On the eve of her 99th birthday, Maxine Bennett says she doesn’t feel any different.
Castle Gap Jewelry store owner Maxine Bennett still gets up every morning, eats breakfast and goes to work. And that’s what she plans to do for the next year leading up to her 100th birthday.
She wants to “just stay in business, hang out,” Bennett says.
Once she turns 100, Bennett plans to have her first cigarette in years. As long as someone can find a Lucky Strike for her.
Bennett first opened Castle Gap in 1973 after her husband died and she felt unfulfilled living in the U.S. The couple had traveled all over the world and lived abroad for 15 years before her husband passed.
At the suggestion of her son, Scotty, the two attempted to sell Native American jewelry in Switzerland. Bennett says there wasn’t a big market there, so once she made enough to fly home, she did.
She then opened the jewelry store, now in the Plaza at Preston Center, and sells jewelry made by the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni tribes.
Even after years of business, Bennett is still in awe of her merchandise. One saying she read before starting the business venture still remains with her today: Native American jewelry adorns with authority.
“She once told me, ‘If you’re wearing diamonds, they’ll look pretty but no one will comment on them,’” says Sherry Ward, the store’s marketing manager. But, Ward adds, if someone is wearing turquoise, people will want to talk about it and touch it.
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