ASHLAND – Crestline native Zach Gall ended up living in and doing business in Ashland thanks to a circle on a map, and the jeweler is very thankful for that.
Gall, who has worked in the jewelry business for 13 years, purchased the Crider Jewelers location in Willard in 2014, when the former owner decided he was ready to downsize his business.
As Gall and his wife were looking for a city to call home, they wanted to live in a place bigger than Willard but he didn’t want to drive more than about 45 minutes.
“So we drew a big circle on the map, and said, ‘What can I comfortably drive every day?’ and Ashland was just inside that circle,” Gall said. “I felt like Ashland would be my first choice of somewhere to live, so I said, ‘Let’s have a look.’”
The Galls visited the city and met with business and community leaders to get a feel for the ccommunity. Growing up in Crestline, Zach Gall remembered thinking of Ashland as a more affluent community.
“That was part of what drew me to this town,” Gall said.
Within the first 10 months of living in Ashland and working in Willard, Gall knew he wanted to move his business, Sam Taylor Fine Jewelry, to Ashland. The commute was making it difficult for him to really become a part of the business community, a necessary step, he believed, to help the operation thrive.
“I was operating a business in Willard but I wasn’t partaking in the community in the way I think a small business guy should. You should rely on the people who rely on you and I didn’t have the opportunity to do that to the best of my ability in Willard,” Gall said.
The jeweler started looking for a spot to relocate his business in Ashland.
“Every few weeks I’d drive through town and see if there was anything available to rent or to own and I’d looked at a couple buildings, but nothing that financially would have worked out. Then I just happened to see this sign here,” Gall said.
The couple closed on the purchase contract of the building at 106 E. Main St. in the middle of June. The store opened on July 9, a date set to coincide with one of the busiest days downtown each year: the Ashland Downtown Dream Cruise and Car Show.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am. I’m in a community where I can be a part of the community,” Gall said.
The jeweler said he has felt very welcomed to Ashland and he’s glad to be part of the rejuvenated downtown.
“When the people across the street succeed, I succeed. When I succeed, my neighbors succeed. This is all a symbiotic thing,” Gall said.
Sam Taylor Fine Jewelry is a full-service jewelry store, offering appraisals, repairs, and even custom pieces.
“You can come in with a sketch on a napkin and we can make that into a finished piece of jewelry,” Gall said.
He got his start in the jewelry business thanks to his uncle, who owns a jewelry store in Wadsworth. After high school, Gall wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a living, so he took a job at his uncle’s store.
“I make the joke, ‘God didn’t bless me with brains or good looks but he gave me steady hands and great eyesight.’ So I had some of the prerequisites for this job,” Gall said.
He completed some basic classes in Mansfield that taught the elementary skills of the trade.
“I liked it enough to say, ‘You know, I’ll give it a shot,’” Gall said.
Gall continued learning more jewelry skills most of which are very technical, but he had a desire to do even more.
“This business is unique in that it’s exacting, like in a very engineering sense, but it also allows for some artistic license. I had been kind of artistic in high school so I said, ‘I’d like to start making some pieces.’ So he gave me a block of wax and said, ‘Run with it,’” Gall said. “I liked the idea of starting with nothing and ending with something that is an heirloom. That’s how I’ve always looked at it.”
Gall spent about eight years working in his uncle’s store before he and his wife moved to Denver after she graduated from nursing school. In Denver, he worked in a mall jewelry store for a few years before the opportunity presented itself for him to open a wholesale manufacturing and repair business for some of the bigger jewelers in the Denver metro area.
After four years in Colorado, the Galls were eager to return to Ohio.
The name of the jewelry store is very personal to Gall. Sam is an acronym for the first letter of the names of his three children and Taylor is a fifth-generation middle name for the men in his family.
“My kids were tickled by the idea, especially the older two. They thought it was the greatest thing ever,” Gall said. “I didn’t open a business for it to be three or four years and then done.
“When my girls get out of high school and my son is done with school, what they decide to do is their business, but they know they have the option. I would like for long after I’m in my grave for Sam Taylor to still be in town and still mean something.”
Gall is in the process of building a web page for Sam Taylor Fine Jewelry to serve as a showcase for his merchandise, but not to sell items online.
“No one will ever be able to buy Sam Taylor jewelry on the internet. I just don’t like that idea,” Gall said.
One of the biggest obstacles Gall faces in the business is competition from online jewelry dealers.
“I get up every day and say ‘How can I beat that faceless, nameless guy in California somewhere?’ That’s my goal,” Gall said.
But he knows that he has something to offer those dealers don’t: personalized service.
“Customer service is dying, and I hate that. I miss the days when I was a young boy and you walked in the bakery and the baker knew who you were, and you walked in the bank and all the bank tellers knew who you were. And that’s gone by the wayside now. And I don’t like that,” Gall said. “Especially in this business. You bring something to me and you want to get the same thing back.
“It’s all trust and building relationships and it’s paramount to why I get up every single day.”