5 of the oldest businesses in America

Bixler's Jewelers

oldest company bixler jewelers storefront
  • Type of business: Jeweler
  • Year founded: 1785

When Christian Bixler left the army after the Revolutionary War, he needed something to do.

So in 1785, he opened Bixler's Jewelers, which Tiffany (TIF) recognizes as the oldest jewelry store in America. He sold hand-crafted grandfather clocks and rings, spoons and other items out of silver. The clock-making ended in 1812, but the jewelry business is still ticking.

The store, originally based in Easton, Pa., and now in Allentown, had been in the Bixler family for 221 years, but Joyce Welkin, Bixler's great-great-great granddaughter decided to sell it in 2006.

"It was an emotional thing to do," says Welkin, who still works at the store.

Welkin chalks up its longevity to perseverance, but also creativity. For instance, no one wanted to step foot in a jewelry store during the depression, so Welkin's grandfather turned the back room into a library. It's also about good customer service. Treat people well and they could become customers for generations, says Welkin.

"We still have people who come here because their grandmother said we're the only place to buy jewelry," she says.

First published July 30, 2014: 4:55 PM ET

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