Harry Ritchie, founder of Harry Ritchie’s Jewelers in Eugene, Ore., died over the weekend at age 91. The family said it was an age-related death, the Associated Press reports.
Ritchie started the company 50 years ago on Willamette Street in Eugene. It is now the 25th-largest jewelry company in the country with 30 shops around the west, the AP reports.
Ritchie worked for several years at Weisfield Jewelers, the business owned by his wife’s family, before he decided he wanted to start his own company in Eugene.
Don Ritchie, Harry Ritchie’s son, recalls the family meeting when his father announced his plans. Ritchie asked the kids if they would be willing to invest with their piggy-bank money, the AP reports. Now the company sometimes earns more than $18,000 a day at just one of its stores.
Don Ritchie reportedly said his father would be happy with the company’s performance that are still based on some of his initial ideas.
Harry Ritchie decided the shops should provide direct financing, earning loyalty among its customers who then didn’t have to go to a third-party creditor. He also placed an emphasis on attractive stores and satisfied employees.
Harry Ritchie remained active in the business until three or four years ago, his son reportedly said.
Born in Portland as the 12th of 13 children, Ritchie split his latter years between Eugene and Palm Springs, Calif.
The company will retain Harry Ritchie’s name and will not be sold.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday in Eugene.
“He always said ‘Make it so when they come in and shop that it’s hopefully the highlight of their day and maybe even the highlight of their week’,” said Don Ritchie, company president and son.
“What we want to do is spoil our customers, but to do that you first have to spoil your people and make them feel a part of the family,” Don Ritchie said.