Eighty five years ago, Victor Schaefer and Leonard Rosenthal opened Mills Jewelers in the bustling little canal town of Lockport, New York. The year was 1929, the beginning of the great depression. These were tough times, and in those lean years, Mrs. Rosenthal often placed her engagement ring in the window display to fill up the presentation.
It wasn't long before business began to prosper and Mills Jewelers needed a bigger location. In 1932, Mills moved one block west next to Williams Brothers, Lockport's most prestigious department store. The store soon became Lockport's leading jeweler. Then in 1948, Leonard Rosenthal moved with his family to San Fernando, California. Vic Schaefer, stayed to manage the Lockport store. In 1973, the government sponsored a program known as Urban Renewal. Much of old Lockport was demolished and Mills was forced to move. While many stores opted for locations in the outskirts of the city, Mills recognized the heritage of the Downtown area and on a Sunday afternoon in July, rolled the safe and all the jewelry down the sidewalk to a new location, half a block away.
That same year, current owner George Fritz was the paper boy for Mills Jewelers. Vic Schaefer asked him if he wanted a job after school washing the glass and sweeping the floor. The store had a wonderful cast of personalities that Lockport came to rely on. They all had plenty of input for George on how to handle every situation. Gradually Vic Schaefer's eyesight failed and George's responsibilities grew. Mr. Schaefer's gift was 50 years of experience and expertise. When he passed away in 1979, his surviving business partner in California asked George Fritz to manage the store. George used this time to finish college and earn his certification in diamonds from the Gemological Institute of America. Eventually, George earned his degree as a Graduate Gemologist through GIA. In 1989 he purchased the remaining interest in the business from the family.
Mills Jewelers represents the life long efforts of local ownership. Generations of Western New Yorkers started their family with a symbol of love from Mills Jewelers. We understand the intimate role we play in the tender moments of our customers lives. That's a powerful responsibility and a great honor. We're on a mission of love. With each piece of jewelry that we create, with each of the lives that we touch, we focus our expertise and passion to achieve an experience beyond all your expectations.
The success continues to grow.
- 2013 received Niagara USA's small business award.
- In January 2009 Mills Jewelers was voted "Best Jeweler" by readers of Lockport's local newspaper, The Union Sun and Journal, an honor that had been repeated annually since 2001.
- Owner, George Fritz, has been named Citizen of the Year by the Lockport Union Sun and Journal and Business Person of the Year by The Niagara USA Chamber of Commerce.
- Mills Jewelers has been honored as Business of the Year by the Eastern Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
- Citations of appreciation have been received from the Mayor of Lockport, former Assemblyman Dave Seaman, and Senator George Maziarz for the stores contributions to the community.
Every staff member of Mills Jewelers is an expert in the field. You receive the benefit of years of training and experience. We also offer the latest in technology employing lasers in repair work and the most current advances in custom design software and digital imaging. We provide the information and tools to make your diamond choice one that will made in comfort and confidence.
In addition, we have a full service goldsmith shop on the premises. We do everything from ring sizing and chain soldering to designing and casting custom pieces of original creations. You receive the benefit of experience and training that has resulted in a level of workmanship that is beyond comparison. You get jewelry that is done right the first time so you can wear and enjoy it longer.
We are driven to give you the best in new designs and innovations along with a consistent emphasis on our founding philosophy of superior customer service. That is what brought us to the respected old age of 85 and what promises to bring continued success.