A Gem of a Jeweler 19

How Melba Walton’s passion became a family and Franklin tradition.

The story of Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry began over 40 years ago when family entrepreneur Melba Walton began her jewelry career by setting up her goods at flea markets, spreading a blanket across the hood of her car and displaying the items she had for sale. In 1974 she opened Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry as a brick and mortar store in Carter’s Court, Franklin’s premier shopping venue at the time.

The store moved to its current location in 1983 when Melba purchased a building downtown at 410 Main Street. It was here that Walton’s began to flourish and achieved its iconic status as a mainstay of downtown retail.

“Over the years, we have seen Franklin go through many changes and growth, but one thing remains the same – the passion and love that Walton’s has for this town and the people who come through our door,” says Mike Walton, Melba’s son and the store’s current owner.

Mike’s daughter, Julie, practically grew up in the downtown store. And there is evidence to prove it – a noticeable indention in the doorframe leading to the showroom where Julie bounced in a Johnny Jump Up exercise seat while watching her family work as a toddler.

Now the store’s general manager, Julie Walton Garland is proud to be an heir to a family and Franklin tradition. “A generational business can be a rare commodity today,” she says. “We are grateful every day for the opportunity to be a part of the Franklin community, continuing the dream that my grandmother had for Walton’s and keeping her vision alive.”

Walton Garland is fond of the relationships that she and her family have been able to form over the years. One of her favorites involves a couple that was shopping for an engagement ring.

“They found the perfect one and before we knew it, he was down on one knee proposing to her in our showroom,” recalls Walton Garland. “It was such a magical moment! We feel so humbled and blessed to have such wonderful people share their love stories with us.”