A new era has begun inside the jewelry store that was once home to a Main Street staple.
Although Woelfel Jewelry recently closed its doors after being in business for over a century, some of the same faces who helped run the local business are keeping that legacy alive. When Brad Jamison, the owner of the former Woelfel Jewelry informed the community of the store closure in mid-October, a long-time employee was determined to continue serving the loyal customers as their hometown jeweler.
Rather than moving to a new location, Bryan Rickel couldn’t find it in himself to leave Mitchell’s Main Street.
“We thought about looking at other locations, but we love Main Street. There is a lot of history in this store, and we want to keep that alive,” said Rickel, who recently opened The Diamond Store at the former Woelfel’s location in downtown Mitchell. “I didn’t want to see another Main Street building go empty, especially a place that was a staple.”
Woelfel’s announced it was closing in mid-October, and a going-out-of-business sale lasted until early January, which is when the business officially ended. In the first few days after the announcement went public, customers flocked to the store and expressed their worries of what life would be like without their go-to jewelers, Rickel said. The Diamond Store has been in business now for three weeks, but a grand opening is slated to take place in March, Rickel said.
Just a few doors down from The Diamond Store is Kim Cross, a nearby Main Street business owner who breathed a sigh of relief when he learned Rickel was going to start his own store.
“This is great for Main Street,” Cross said of The Diamond Store. “It brings a lot of people downtown, and it helps bring more foot traffic to other stores. I’m excited for them, and I know plenty of people who also are.”
Having spent just under three decades as one of the full-time goldsmiths and sales associates at Woelfel’s, Rickel gained a wealth of knowledge in the jewelry business under Jamison.
With enough confidence and industry knowledge, Rickel was ready to take on owning a jewelry business inside the same 218 N. Main St. store that he built his foundation of goldsmithing skills and jewelry expertise. Rickel credits the strong support of his wife April Rickel for making his dream of opening his business come to life.
“I’m very grateful to have learned so much working with Brad (Jamison)... He gave me a lot of responsibility that helped me feel good about starting my own business,” Rickel said. "But I couldn't have done this without my wife (April). She's been a huge part of helping through the transition."
Another familiar face who has spent 15 years as a jeweler at Woelfel’s is Ryan Buckley, Rickel’s right-hand man.
Both Mitchell natives, Rickel and Buckley’s relationship didn’t begin at Woelfel’s. The two graduated from Mitchell High School just a few years apart. Together, they have developed a strong bond as jewelers and art enthusiasts, while forming close relationships with their customers.
While his passion for art sparked his interest in the jewelry and goldsmithing industry, Buckley said the meaningful moments he experiences with customers who are buying an important ring or bracelet are what helps keep him going.
“It’s a special experience to be a part of, and I’ve had people cry when I sold them a ring. But we have respect for that concept," Buckley said. We’ve sold thousands of rings, but we understand that every moment is special and it could be someone’s first ring for an engagement or wedding.”
When they’re not cleaning rings, and putting new watches and earrings in the display cases, Rickel and Buckley can be found in the back of the store creating custom jewelry orders. Rickel and Buckley serve as The Diamond Store’s goldsmiths, just as they did at Woelfel’s. Rickel said the store will continue offering custom-made orders, including clocks, along with full-service jewelry repairs.
The new store setup will feature a few changes that Buckley is eager to see when the final product is complete. With a construction background, Buckley has been working on the remodeling, which will feature new walls, a TV and a coffee bar.
The park next door to the business now belongs to Rickel. It’s been a unique part of Main Street, as the Woelfel’s staff would decorate the downtown park during holidays and festivities. According to Buckley, that tradition isn’t going anywhere.
“We get creative with it,” Buckley said. “Making the park look nice goes a long way for Main Street. I’m proud we are going to continue to help the downtown atmosphere.”