Nestled away on Billy Dyar Boulevard in Boaz, inside a
home formerly owned by Cecil Thompson, is Crystal Corner –
one of the largest gift shops in the Southeast.
Mary Ann Lowery first started Crystal Corner out of her
basement in 1984 as a way to deal discontinued china. After
business grew, she set up shop at a service station by
Pasquale’s Pizza, then moved to her current location when
the Boaz Outlets began to boom.
“This was our neighbor’s house, and we used to sit here
and eat with them,” Lowery said. “When we heard those
outlets were coming … my father-in-law told me: ‘Now if you
ever want to try this business, now is the time to buy that
house.’ So we did. We sat over here by ourselves on what
used to be a dirt road for a while. I was doing a lot of
mail orders and had the website, and I answered letters on
old china and crystal — that’s how I managed to just hang in
there until the Boaz Outlet Center opened.”
The idea to deal in rare, discontinued china,
crystal, and stainless and open Crystal Corner was sparked
while Lowery worked at The Jewel Box as a bookkeeper.
“What’s really funny is, they had tons of old china
but didn’t work it,” Lowery said.
One day while working, Lowery said she went up stairs to
look around and found several boxes full of letters asking
if The Jewel Box had different types of china. With the
company’s permission, Lowery began reading letters that she
believes were at least 10- 20 years old.
Even after the business made about $30,000 in one month
by Lowery just answering a handful of letters, The Jewel Box
didn’t want to expand its business by going out to
dealers and searching for patterns that they didn't have in
That’s when Lowery started her own business and Crystal
Corner was born.
Over the last 35 years, her business has grown into
something she never quite expected. Her store has expanded
into much more than rare china, crystal pieces and dolls.
There are thousands of different items located within the
estimated 8,500 square-foot building, which includes toys,
clothes, jewelry and seasonal decorations.
“We’ve got just about everything here,” Lowery said. “If
you can’t find it here, then you probably won’t find it
anywhere else — or it hasn’t been made yet.”
Within the last decade, Lowery said there has been a
decline in business — mostly because people think her store
only carries china and crystal, and “no one uses china
anymore.” While she hopes it will make a comeback like many
fashion trends do, Lowery fears the days of collecting china
are over, and that’s why she’s put focus on selling other
“I could be wrong, and I sure hope I am, but I don’t
think china will come back,” she said. “Now, if my brides
come in and pick out dinnerware, it’s something they can
either dress it up or they can dress it down. They’re not
doing both anymore.”
Whether china makes a comeback or not, Lowery said
Crystal Corner would remain true to itself and continues to
be the unique place it’s always been.
“They can walk in and almost do a one-stop shop,” Lowery
said. “We’re the only one that gift wraps anymore, we’re the
only one that has as many different choices — other than
Hobby Lobby, maybe.
“We just want people to know we’re still here,” she
added. “And we aren't planning on going anywhere.”