A must-read interview with Walton’s on Forbes.com! Read the article >
When Melba Walton saw the boarded up buildings of downtown Franklin, TN she knew opportunity was waiting. 45 years later her granddaughter, Julie, with baby James in tow, run the family jewelry store, Walton’s Antique & Estate Jewelry.
As a young girl growing up in the jewelry store - she made it her mission to bring the store into the digital age to protect its legacy and keep it around for future generations.
Stephanie Burns: What made you want to take over your grandmother’s business?
Julie Walton: My Maw-Maw, Melba Walton, was a visionary entrepreneur who helped revitalize the downtown area. She was never afraid of trying something different, which is one of the reasons why I think we’ve been in business for so long. In fact, when she moved to Downtown Franklin, most of the storefronts were abandoned and boarded up. But she could see the opportunity in downtown Franklin and chose to open her doors here.
She got started selling jewelry from the hood of her car at local flea markets. When she opened the doors to our first location in 1974, it was a time when women were not able to get a loan on their own. In fact, she had her husband, Jack, cosign in order to pursue her dreams of becoming a business owner. It was never assumed that I would take over the family business and didn’t feel pressure when I explored different pursuits after college, and was naturally drawn back to the business. One summer, my dad made me an offer to try the family business. Per his suggestion, I came home for a few weeks to give it a go. The rest is history! Having the opportunity to first explore other avenues gave me an even greater appreciation for my family business. It also allowed for me to grow as an individual and professional, imparting wisdom that I could then apply to the family business.
My grandmother passed away a few years ago, if she were here, she would be thrilled with the success of Walton’s and Downtown Franklin. She was one of the first that really lead the charge to revitalize Franklin, and I see it thriving for generations to come. Now as a third generation female business owner over 50 years later, I am honored to continue her legacy. She would never believe that I am selling antique jewelry online now.