Looking out the front doors or from the balcony of Ware Jewelers, owners Ronnie and Tina Ware have the perfect vantage point of the iconic Toomer’s Corner in Auburn.
“Some of my earliest childhood memories are being here at the store with my dad and watching Auburn fans roll the powerlines across the street. That was before we started rolling the trees,” Ronnie remembers. Decades later, he says, the view never gets old.
“We work every game day. Being where we are, we get to watch it all. To have 40 to 50 thousand people celebrating on the street right in front of you, it is a remarkable place to be,” explains Ronnie.
This year, Ware Jewelers had a celebration of its own, marking 70 years in business in downtown Auburn.
“This 70th anniversary year has given us a chance for us to communicate how appreciative we are of our customers who have supported us all these years. We wouldn’t be here without them,” said Tina.
The milestone anniversary capped off a busy couple of years for the Wares, who recently completed a huge renovation of the downtown Auburn store. The now three-story brick building features a stunning new showroom, with a nod to the past.
“We have remodeled, but the front door is in the same place it was when my father opened the business in 1946 – when the whole business was just 10 feet wide and 40 feet deep,” Ronnie said of the now 15,000-square-foot store.
The design incorporates other pieces of the old store as well. One of the three original chandeliers hangs in the front of the store; the bricks in the entryway are from the original store; and the store’s first vault door remains. Ware’s uses a more technologically advanced door for the actual vault. In addition, the bases of Ronnie and Tina’s office desks are made from the walls of the old Ware’s store.
The juxtaposition of old and new carries through outside Ware Jewelers as well, where the historic intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue has recently undergone a huge construction project itself. The Wares are proud of their connection to Auburn University and the downtown area, and remain committed to preserving both the history of their business and the strength of the surrounding business community.
“One thing that hasn’t changed and never will is our love for Auburn,” said Tina. “Our stories are woven together, and we are so proud to support the community, just like they’ve supported us.”
Today, Ware Jewelers has 43 employees and stores in Opelika, Montgomery and Spanish Fort, in addition to the original location on Auburn’s College Street.
Story and photos by Melissa Johnson Warnke