He scraped together pounds 250 for a single shipment of tea, and then sold it on with door-to-door sales.
The business grew rapidly and became a huge family enterprise focusing on community values, which saw it employ ex-servicemen and disabled soldiers after the end of the 1914-18 war.
Although the company now uses vans instead of horse and carriages, its principle of delivering direct to customers' doors has not changed.
Ringtons now has a network of 26 offices across the country stretching from Edinburgh to East Anglia.
FLASHBACK: A Ringtons van in 1957