What originally started as a hobby for Burnell “Burnie” Franke has now morphed into a multi-location earth + science namesake in Madison. Like all good startup stories, Burnie’s Rock Shop started small — in the basement of a local YMCA in 1962, to be exact.
🪨 Starting with small finds
Burnie, along with his loved ones and staff, would collect rocks + fossils to put up for sale at the store. Moving from the YMCA basement to a Monroe Street storefront, this quirky rock shop gained traction quickly.
As word got out of this hidden gem, Burnie started supplying communities of craftspeople and earth science enthusiasts with goods needed for jewelry making and lapidary.
💎 A shining legacy
In 1976, the store relocated to 901 E. Johnson Street in order to hold even more inventory + allow for more foot traffic. This location is still in place today as well as Burnie’s on Park at 636 S. Park St. For the past 20+ years, both locations have been run by Burnie’s son, Nevin, and his wife Sonali. These two carry on Burnie’s legacy by continuing to provide Madison with a plethora of unique gifts, supplies, and equipment.
As the shops have expanded, some unique products have been featured such as Banded Onyx from Pakistan and mounted butterflies from Peru.
Can’t get enough? The 2022 Madison Gem, Mineral + Jewelry Show is happening this month — Saturday, Nov. 19-Sunday, Nov. 20 — at the Alliant Energy Center. Pan for gold + sapphires, pick up some jewelry and check out special fossil exhibits. Stop by either of Burnie’s locations to find more information and snag a few crystals while you’re at it.