RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — 60 years has a nice ring to it for Riddle’s Jewelry. The business began in Webster, South Dakota in 1959. Now, there are 60 stores all over the midwest run by many members of the Riddle family.
KELOLAND News went to Rapid City where three generations are gathered under one roof to share their story.
Jesse Riddle, the first, was a watchmaker who wanted more. In 1959 he and his wife opened the first Riddle’s Jewelry store in Webster, South Dakota. The company has had loyal customers, including Max Gonsenbach and his wife, ever since.
“In addition to my wife being a very good customer for a number of years I had the privilege and honor of knowing the founder of this business Jesse Riddle, he was a Webster High school graduate, same time I was a Milbank High school graduate,” Max Gonsenbach, long time customer said.
They became close playing against each other in sports. Jesse Riddle expanded his jewelry store to Sisseton, then Milbank, where Max was.
“Our wives both had babies about the same time and became friends and Jesse and I became very very good friends and unfortunately he has passed on some years ago which was a tragic loss in the family, but he founded a very successful business,” Gonzenbach said.
In the 1970s Jesse expanded Riddle’s from just a retail store to a manufacturer where employees handcraft Black Hills Gold and diamonds.
To this day, the manufacturing and retail business continues to be run by family.
“So when we were growing up in the business we had many uncles and cousins, my mother was working with the business so we had a lot of family in the business. I know one time I think we had over 21 family members in the business, some of them have retired now. Both my dad, uncle and mother they were always very big in family,” Brett Riddle (Jesse), President and CEO of Riddles, son of founder said.
Over the years, the Riddle’s team has expanded to 60 stores in 9 different states.
“Not only do we have our own family that are involved we have a lot of our employees that are involved that are family too, so it’s grown to almost 700 people and we’ve been fortunate to have three generations working in the business,” Brett Riddle said.
Jesse Riddle III manages a Riddle’s outlet store and is the 3rd generation of the Riddles.
“I hope to continue the legacy my grandpa started in 1959 and my dad continued to grow the business. I first started in the company when I was 14 years old. I was wrapping packages at Christmas time, giving tours in our factory and just doing simple ring cleaning and so today I’m almost 24 and now I’m a manager of our outlet Black Hills Gold store and so it’s been a great journey,” Jesse Riddle the 3rd, manager if Mount Rushmore Gold and Landstroms outlet store and grandson of founder, said.
Jesse says he not only wishes to continue the family legacy.. but also because he just enjoys it. One of the primary parts of the Riddle’s business is selling engagement rings, which can be a very special experience.
“Sometimes you’re the first one to know. It’s exciting picking out a diamond for them. Here at the corporate office I can go to my aunt and she can pick out the best diamond and it’s pretty exciting,” Jesse Riddle III said.
“We see people now that my father sold their engagement ring to. We are seeing their grandkids coming and getting their engagement rings from us and it’s just fun to be a part of people’s lives,” Brett Riddles said.
So that customers, like Max, will have memories to keep for a lifetime.
“Most of them are wearing a gold ring of a nature so the memories and the references that we can see to bring us back to those memories are often good,” Gonzenbach said.
Jesse Riddle III says he hopes to keep expanding the business by adding more jewelry stores around the nation and by selling to more retailers.