The oldest family-owned businesses in Richmond

These five businesses have kept things in the family for over a century

A vintage postcard shows Broad Street in the early 20th century.

Richmond has several businesses that have stayed in the family for over a century.

Photo via VCU Libraries Digital Collections

Ever wondered about some of the oldest businesses in Richmond? Several local storefronts have been serving River City customers for over a century.

A quick note: Foodies might worry at the lack of restaurants on this list. Fear not — we already published a conversation on the oldest restaurants in the city.

Cowardin’s Jewelers | Opened 1865
The legacy of Cowardin’s Jewelers is five generations deep. William H. Cowardin opened his watch and jewelry shop in Shockoe Bottom in 1865. The jewelers have set up shop in several locations in their 150+ year history. They are currently located at 4909 W. Broad St. near Willow Lawn.

Siewers Lumber & Millwork | Opened 1884
A German immigrant, Richard Alvin Siewers started a building company and lumber yard at Canal and Belvidere Streets in 1884. He passed the business to his wife, Sabine, who then left it to their sons. Their grandsons moved the business to 1901 Ellen Rd. near the Diamond in 1974.

Waller & Company Jewelers | Opened 1900
Marcellus Carrington “M.C.” Waller taught himself the business of jewelry and watch repair in the late 1800s. Part of Richmond’s entrepreneurial Black business community at the turn of the century, Waller opened his shop in 1900 in the Carver neighborhood. The business is now located at 19 E. Broad St.

Agee’s Bicycles | Opened 1910
One of the nation’s oldest bike shops, Agee’s was known as West End Bicycles when Louis Agee opened its doors in the Byrd Park area. It now has three locations on West Broad, Midlothian Turnpike, and Cary Street.

Whitten Brothers | Opened 1920
Tracing its roots to a tire shop founded on March 8, 1920 at 1500 W. Broad St., this local car dealer has since been steered by four generations of Whittens.

We couldn’t highlight all of the historic businesses that are still operated in Richmond — that’d take quite a few more newsletters.

What should we look into next? Reach out and tell us.

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