The History of The Crystal Connection
The Crystal Connection has experienced many changes over the last 30 years. Kathy and Pali started out doing rock, gem and jewelry shows in the local area for non-profit organizations such as Hospice and JABA and eventually expanding to some out of town shows. People could also come by to make purchases by appointments. As time went on, Kathy and Pali became so busy with appointments they decided to open a retail store where folks could shop for jewelry and stones at their convenience. Seminole Square had the perfect spot for The Crystal Connection and is still home to this day. After a short time, Pali decided to leave the business to pursue her other creative interests.
For several years, The Crystal Connection had an operating flume in the store where people could pan for gemstones, but soon we needed the space for new merchandise. Many of our customers still talk about panning for gemstones when they were children. Now they bring in their own children to choose from our tumbled stone section!
Along with other collectibles, The Crystal Connection sold Beanie Babies at the height of their popularity. That was quite an experience! Lines down the sidewalk and special Beanie Baby shopping times.
All along the way, we have kept an open mind with the goal being to have what our customers want. We have grown with our customers and evolved with each passing year. Customer service is always our top priority! Our staff has always been our greatest asset.
Kathy & Jim Campbell
I grew up in the Washington DC area where I worked in sales for Marriott and Sheraton Hotels for many years. Shortly after my marriage to Jim, we moved to Greensboro, NC for 3 years to pursue his business interests in Blue Ridge Mountain Sports. Our next move brought us to Knoxville, TN for a time and then we moved again, this time to Charlottesville. After our second child was born, I went to work for Blue Ridge Mountain Sports as a buyer and special projects manager. I decided to take a summer off to be with my kids and then pursue something part time in the fall. I answered an ad (which turned out to be a misprint) for someone with business and sales experience to help get a new business going. This is where I met Pali. The Crystal Connection was born! I don't remember a time when I didn't love jewelry and I always had a fascination for rocks and crystals. I really enjoyed going to the elementary schools in the area to give talks on them and taking samples they could actually touch. Creating and making some of our own jewelry is very satisfying to me. Over the years, I have been privileged to work with so many great employees. But the thing I love best about owning this business is getting to know all the wonderful customers who have been shopping with us for years. Many of them started coming to the store as children and now they are bringing their children in. What a blessed way to satisfy my great fascination with nature!
When Jim decided to make a career change, he sold his interest in his business to one of his partners and joined Kathy in managing The Crystal Connection. His background in marketing and advertising was an invaluable asset. He could never remember where he left his coffee cup or keys, but he quickly learned all about the rocks and crystals, where they were found and what purpose they served. Sadly, Jim passed away in September of 2011. We all still miss him very much. He touched many lives over the years both before his time at The Crystal Connection and through his work at the store. Many customers still come in and tell us their Jim stories. We may not see him, but he is still very much a part of The Crystal Connection to this day.
"I was a long-time visitor to The Crystal Connection. Before I even lived in Charlottesville, it was my favorite store! When I started looking for my first job, I had to see if they were hiring. I started cleaning jewelry on a temporary basis, but have now been with Kathy since 2003. Even while I was away at college, I continued to work in whatever capacity I could for the store, coming back for all my breaks to help out as needed. After graduating, I ended up back in Charlottesville and back at The Crystal Connection full time. I have truly found a home here with this store and a family with its customers and employees. This store has seen me through a lot of life's ups and downs and continues to be a sanctuary for me."
Leah Williams has been a team member with The Crystal Connection since 2003. Leah started out polishing jewelry, but is now the Manager and right-hand to the owner, Kathy Campbell. You might not always see Leah on the sales floor, but she is usually behind the scenes, helping with the everyday running of the store including purchasing, advertising, social media, merchandising and paperwork. Leah has a great knowledge of the products both past and present and is the store's primary rock buyer, dealing with vendors from all over.
“I first came to The Crystal Connection when I was around 8 years old. From then on, I was hooked. This place had everything I could imagine and more! The Crystal Connection has become a place where I can meet new people and always find new experiences. I knew I wanted to work here from the moment I entered the place and soon enough I was an integral part of the team. The Crystal Connection is truly a gem in my life.”
Stephen Krenitsky has been a team member with The Crystal Connection since 2012. Initially, he helped with errands and cleaning, but quickly became an important member of the team. He is known as our walking encyclopedia when it comes to crystals and minerals, both the metaphysical and the scientific information. Most days, you will find Stephen smiling on the sales floor, but he is also essential for the everyday behind-the-scenes work too.
“I have been working at The Crystal Connection for over two years now, and it’s mind-blowing how fast the time has flown by! While I still feel that I have much to learn, I am grateful to be surrounded by this talented and knowledgeable crew. It’s really good to be a part of the team, and working here is a gift that I wouldn’t give up for anything!”
Beth Frazier joined us at The Crystal Connection in the summer of 2016. Her enthusiasm for our jewelry and stones is definitely contagious! Beth has grown in leaps and bounds with her knowledge of our store and our customers. She has just the artistic flair The Crystal Connection needs. In her spare time, Beth creates beautiful wire-wrap jewelry, stone grids and other art projects- some we carry in store!
Ashley is a native of Charlottesville and has loved The Crystal Connection since she was a young girl. She has a degree from the University of Virginia in English and reads novels and writes poetry in her spare time. Ashley joined The Crystal Connection in November of 2016 and we threw her right into the thick of things with the holiday rush. As we’ve come to expect from Ashley, she handled it with grace and poise. Ashley is always ready with a smile and has been an intelligent, friendly and absolutely positive addition to the team since the day she started.