Melba Walton was always an entrepreneur. It began as a side hustle, where she sold reclaimed furniture at flea markets in the 1960s and 70s. When the furniture became too heavy to carry from show to show, she swapped her strategy to something easier to move, yet just as beautiful: antique jewelry.
The hobby eventually found a home in Franklin’s Carter’s Court development, where Melba opened a pair of brick-and-mortar businesses selling glittering jewels and dainty lingerie. Then, an opportunity arose for her to move her business to Main Street.
Today, a business opportunity on bustling Main Street seems like a no-brainer, but the strip was a far cry from the booming district it is now when Melba took a leap of faith in the 1980s. With the help of her husband, Jack (because women couldn’t yet secure loans), Melba opened up Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry in a cozy storefront at 410 Main.
[Melba Walton displaying antique and estate jewelry]
For decades, everyone from window shoppers to heirloom collectors and eager boyfriends ready to pop the question have found a friend in Walton’s, who today houses an impressive collection of pieces new and old. From earrings to necklaces, bracelets, rings, broaches, and collector’s items, a trip to Walton’s is always a dazzling experience.
This Hallmark-esque town has been known to produce its fair share of love stories – and many happily ever afters begin at Walton’s. Melba and Jack’s story set an example for them all, and it’s one I know well considering that, to me, they were Maw Maw and Paw Paw.
[Melba and her husband, Jack Walton]
My grandparents walked through life hand-in-hand, Maw Maw paving the way for women in business one good decision at a time, and Paw Paw right beside her (though he never dulled her shine). If you walked along Main Street in the early 2000s, you may remember a friendly gentleman perched on a bench at the corner of 4th and Main. He no doubt waved you down, asked you where you were from, and handed you a smashed penny with an image of the Franklin square – he might have even offered to drive you around the city pointing out celebrities’ homes (if you agreed, I apologize on behalf of the entire family for his driving skills). Paw Paw became the unofficial ambassador of Franklin until the pair were reunited eternally in 2017.
Those with the inside scoop (aka me, the youngest grandchild) know that Walton’s houses a “wall of love” in its back hallway, lined with Polaroids of happy couples flaunting their sparkling engagement rings. If you’re interested in learning even more of Walton’s love stories, you can read them here.
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, Walton’s has just what you need to wow that special someone. Whether you’re ready to get down on one knee, celebrate a milestone anniversary, or simply want something sparkly to give as a token of your affection this year, the team at Walton’s has you covered.