Popular Canton jewelry store has grown annually since opening in 2007; will move to a new location with twice the retail space later this year.
Working in a hospital lab while attending college taught Alan Rodriguez something about himself.
Lessons he learned in his youth helping out at his father’s medical lab were put to good use at the hospital. Yet, he realized it wasn’t his life’s calling.
“I was exposed to a lot of sadness there,” Rodriguez said. “It wasn’t right for me.”
That realization has resulted in significant joy over the past 42 years for Rodriguez. It helped him become a part of many happy moments for thousands in Stark County.
In the mid 1970s, Rodriguez worked at an Akron jewelry store during the holidays. In 1976, Bob Gasser hired him and instilled the values of fine jewelry, quality and service.
“Bob said if I had a passion for this business, I’d find my place in a family-owned store,” Rodriguez said.
In 1987, that place began to surface.
Doyle Stone, owner of House of Stones in New Philadelphia, was retiring. Rodriguez bought the store and operated it as a standalone for 20 years. In 2007, Julz by Alan Rodriguez opened in downtown Canton.
Both stores thrive today.
Julz, at 220 Market Ave. N., is a world-class jewelry store, with some of the finest diamonds in the world, hand selected by Rodriguez in Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world. The store offers custom jewelry design, including engagement rings and wedding bands.
In addition to a unique collection of gemstones and fine jewelry, Julz features a watch gallery with fine Swiss timepieces and investment-grade collectibles.
Julz is a member of the American Gem Society, so staff members are knowledgeable and credentialed experts adhering to the highest ethical and professional standards.
The store has won design awards from the Independent Jewelers Association and the Ohio Jewelers Association. Rodriguez served on the board of the National Jewelers Association of America and is past president of the Ohio Jewelers Association.
“I’m fortunate to have affiliations with national and worldwide jewelry associations, yet still own and operate a store in my hometown,” Rodriguez said. “My need for excitement is satisfied, but I can live in a smaller community.”
Julz recognizes the symbolism of jewelry, knowing each piece serves as a lifelong reminder of the love and sentiment it expresses now and as an heirloom for future generations.
“We’re contemporary in our thinking, while being respectful to the traditions of our industry,” Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to create exceptional experiences that become lifelong memories.”
Julz has done just that for generations.
“We’re serving the fifth generation of some families,” Rodriguez said. “We get to know the whole family and experience important life moments with them.”
Julz utilizes the latest advanced technology capable of anything from cleaning and polishing your jewelry and restoring your precious family heirlooms to creating one-of-a-kind jewelry.
The store has two jewelers on staff, one with 42 years of experience and one with 30 years on the bench.
“We stay busy,” Rodriguez said. “Our staff handles about 200 jobs a week.”
Rodriguez wants Julz to be a place where customers feel comfortable.
“We want a guy who knows nothing about jewelry to feel at home,” he said. “Our décor is more urban, and our staff is enthusiastic about helping meet the needs of the customer.”
Rodriguez wants Julz to instill confidence in customers.
“Education inspires confidence,” he said. “If anyone walks out thinking our prices are too high, we didn’t do a very good job of explaining the value Julz brings.”
Rodriguez is proud to be part of the downtown art scene. Every 60 days, a new artist’s work is rotated into the store.
Rodriguez enjoys spending time with his wife, Kathryn, and their children, Allison and Hailey, who live in Oklahoma City; Allison, who lives in Wisconsin; Danielle who lives in New York City; and Michael and Pierce, who live in Columbus. Grandchildren Jaxson and Owen are another source of joy.
“Many of my friends are retiring,” Rodriguez said. “But, when you find your purpose, it’s like the fountain of youth.”
Rodriguez’s fountain definitely still flows.
By summertime, he expects Julz to be housed in its new location in a former bank building on Cleveland Ave., across from the Joseph Saxton Gallery. The new location will have twice the retail space.
Knowing the passion and commitment of Rodriguez and his staff, there’s no doubt Julz will definitely be part of happy moments for generations of Stark County residents to come.