Mike and Norma Martin, who have owned The Stonery in Garberville for the past five years, are retiring. The new owners of the store, Andre Steinle and Julie Thomas-Steinle will take over, with plans to continue and expand the gem, mineral and jewelry business.
Mike Martin explained that when he and Norma first opened The Stonery about five years ago, Steinle told them they were living his dream of having a jewelry store in Garberville. Martin told him to come back when the Steinles' son was in preschool and they would talk about it.
At the end of last summer the Steinles' son, Braeden, was ready to start preschool. Over the Christmas holidays Julie and Andre visited the Martins again and helped them decorate the store. Just after the first of the year, Andre went into The Stonery and told the Martins they could retire. A deal was struck.
Mike and Norma Martin told the Redwood Times they have had a great time over the last five years at the store. They said they have made a lot of friends and appreciate all the support they have gotten from the community. In addition to providing Southern Humboldt with a wide variety of jewelry and gemstones, they have over the years raised about $50,000 for various community service groups through their quarterly raffles. Hospice was their most recent recipient of the raffle proceeds.
The Martins are ready to retire and travel, with no specific destination plans yet other than to see Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota. They congratulate the Steinles and wish them the best of luck in their pursuit of happiness.
Lapidary has been a lifelong passion for Andre Steinle. More than five years ago he started doing volunteer security at the Wildcat Gem Fest in Ferndale that the Martins organized. He enjoyed the event and learned more about gems and minerals. Andre had the opportunity to purchase a booth at the show, and rocks from an “old-timer named Garth,” who was retiring. A few years later his friend and lapidary teacher, Bill Ashmus, passed away and Andre acquired his tools and a “lifetime collection of stones,” he said.
The Steinles will do a “little facelift” on the store. They plan to carry local and non-local artists' jewelry and to sell stones for artists to work with and for metaphysical purposes. They will expand into more lapidary, fossils, rocks and slab stones. Steinle cuts and polishes his own stones. He likes to work with opals that he mines in Nevada and sunstone from Oregon.
Andre said he and his family love rock hunting, and noted that there are many opportunities on the North Coast for hunting semi-precious stones like jade, shell fossils, obsidian, nephrite, agate and jasper. “And there's gold in them there hills!” he added.
The Steinles hope to inspire children with lifelong interests in geology, earth science and lapidary by carrying books and relevant lapidary items for kids, for example coprolite, which he characterized as “fossilized dinosaur poop.” He said that kids love it, and it is also beautiful in jewelry.
The Steinles intend to offer the community a fine jewelry store and have fun. The Stonery will reopen at its current location at 923 Redwood Drive in Garberville in early February.
From left to right; Mike Martin, Norma Martin, retiring owners of The Stonery with Braeden Steinle, and Julie Thomas-Steinle and Andre Steinle, the new owners of the jewelry store in Garberville.