In 1987 Rhonda Oehler and her husband opened Homestead Jewelers in the Soldotna Mall. Then in 1996 Rhonda closed the gift and jewelry store and decided to go back to school and try an alternative career, while continuing to make her home in Soldotna.
A few years later she missed the jewelry business and the independent lifestyle and reopened a summer store in Ketchikan and helped with the cruise ship industry.
Last winter Rhonda went shopping at Jim Golden's Sports Den in Soldotna and walked out with a new store, "Jim said, hey do you want to move your store in here? And I said it would be a little crowded with the two of us and he said no problem I'll move out, so he did and I opened the new store last April.
It was really nice to get back into a good location with easy access for everybody, and Jim has put a little cabin next door for his guiding business and he makes sure that his tourists stop in the store even if he has to drag them in the door," said Oehler.
Rhonda Oehler at their new location formerly the Sports Den in Soldotna.
Homestead Jewelers is a full service jewelry store offering repairs and custom made jewelry and soon Rhonda will complete her gemology degree and will offer gem identification and appraisals.
Additionally, Homestead continues it's tradition of featuring unique gifts of Alaskan made crafts and art works. "I really enjoy working with Alaskan artists, I'll visit their studios and pick out a piece of antler and request a special design, and they are really good about wanting to create what you want rather than trying to anticipate what someone might like to have," said Oehler.
The wide variety of media on display at Homestead, which ranges from antler and stone carvings to slate etchings, gives the overall interior the appearance of an art gallery in addition to a jewelry store.
When asked about the origin of the name Homestead Jewelers, Rhonda replied, "Well when I moved to Alaska in 1980 that's what I really wanted to do. I never made it so instead I opened a store with that name." A homesteader at heart, you can visit Rhonda at the new Homestead Jewelers in Soldotna across from Hutchings Chevrolet & Cadillac on the Sterling Highway where the Sports Den use to be located, or call 262-7464.
Rhonda Oehler behind the counter at their new location.
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