By Steven Hoffman
Twenty-five years to the day after she opened her shop, Ediene Ringler is officially retiring.
She is in the process of transferring Ediene's Jewelry to Alesia Mills, who has worked as the goldsmith in the stop for the last 23 years. It will be called Millstone Jewelers as of Nov. 1. Until then, a retirement sale is underway with 50 percent discounts on watches, 40 percent discounts on all decorative accessories, including clocks, and 25 percent off all jewelry.
Ringler said that she started selling jewelry at the Oxford News Shop, which she owned with her husband, Vernon, about five years before she opened Ediene's. It served as kind of a trial run for the jewelry store.
“I had about two counters for jewelry at the news shop,” she explained. “I was taking silversmithing courses at the time. Vernon said, 'Why don't you open a jewelry store.'”
She did just that on Nov. 1 1988 when she opened up Ediene's Jewelry. Ever since then her business would occupy one of the most highly visible locations in downtown Oxford. There have been countless changes in the town's business district since then, but Ediene's has been a constant.
Does it feel like 25 years have passed since she opened the store?
“Sometimes,” Ediene said with a laugh.
Ediene's retirement is the end of an era for the Ringler family and the Oxford business community—for the first time in a very long time, no business in town is owned by a member of the Ringler family.
Vernon Ringler explained that with their daughter, Nadiene, working at Ediene's, five generations of the family have made their living while working in the borough. It started with Vernon's great grandfather, Thomas, who came to Oxford after the Civil War. He drove a stagecoach from Oxford to Parkesburg. When the trains came to town, Thomas Ringler went into the freight business and took mail to the train station.
Thomas' son, S. Vernon Ringler was a constable in Oxford for 30 years and also ran a freight business. He died at the age of 47 and his wife took over the freight business.
Vernon Ringler pointed out that there is a long history of the women of the family being very entrepreneurial.
“The women in the family have been very involved in the businesses,” he said.
Eventually, Horace Ringler joined his mother in the business and, in 1948 he opened up Ringler’s Appliance. Horace also died at the age of 47 and his wife—the mother of Vernon and Bill Ringler—stepped in to run the business. Bill was in the Navy at the time but in 1953 he started helping his mother run the business. Vernon joined the business in 1962, following his service in the Marine Corps. In 1967, the Ringlers bought the Oxford News Shop. At one time, Vernon recalled, they were selling 1,000 newspapers on Sunday and all the brothers’ children—the fifth-generation to work in Oxford—were all involved.
Ediene’s Jewelry opened in 1988 in a building that has a notable history dating back to 1864. At one time, it served as the Oxford Hall Association that the Dickeys—Oxford’s preeminent family—were very involved with. At one time, the first floor housed a general store, the second floor was an entertainment hall that featured live entertainment, and the third floor was the home of the Masonic Lodge. A photographer also had his business located here. The building, including the top floors, is still in good shape, especially considering its age.
With so much family history intertwined with the businesses, it’s not surprising that the Ringlers would have mixed emotions about retiring, but Vernon said that now is the time.
“We’ve been involved in Oxford since 1962,” Vernon Ringler said. “We’re ready.”