Home News United Jewelers: A Legacy of Two Families Spanning 106 Years

United Jewelers: A Legacy of Two Families Spanning 106 Years

by Madonna

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – In the heart of Johnstown’s Main Street lies United Jewelers, a renowned full-service jewelry store with a storied history dating back to 1917. Ownership of this cherished establishment has seamlessly passed between two families, steadfastly weathering the test of time over 106 years. Jeff Todaro, the current proprietor, succeeded his father in this enduring legacy. His father, in turn, had taken the reins from Oscar Zion, the son of the original owner, Abraham Zion.

In this insightful interview, Jeff Todaro sheds light on the remarkable journey of United Jewelers, a business that has remained rooted in a single location, guided by the stewardship of two families for over a century.


Question: How did your business start?

Answer: United Jewelers had its humble beginnings in 1917, founded by three skilled bench jewelers, or goldsmiths. Over time, two of these jewelers departed from the business, leaving Abraham Zion as the sole proprietor. In addition to offering repair services, Abraham Zion diversified the store’s offerings by introducing jewelry for sale.


Question: What were some of the major developments in the business over time?

Answer: The story of United Jewelers encompasses a rich tapestry of family involvement and dedication. Abraham Zion’s children, Jennie and Oscar, joined their father in operating the store at 410 Main St. until his passing in 1946. In 1948, Oscar and Jennie undertook a remodeling effort, relocating the business to 412 Main St.


In 1953, the family welcomed Charles Todaro, Jeff Todaro’s father, as a stock boy while he was still in high school. After completing high school, Charles remained with the business as a salesperson. In 1974, Jeff Todaro began his journey with United Jewelers, commencing as a stock boy on the very first day of his high school attendance.

In 1979, the passing of Jennie Zion marked a transition in ownership, with Oscar Zion assuming full proprietorship of United Jewelers. By 1982, Charles Todaro and Oscar Zion entered into a ten-year buyout purchase agreement, marking a pivotal moment in the store’s history.

In 2008, the legacy continued as Jeff Todaro and his father agreed to a ten-year purchase agreement.

Question: How has your business evolved to what it is today?

Answer: Throughout its history, United Jewelers has remained a family-centric operation, with the principal owner actively participating in daily operations, including serving customers. Notably, when Jeff Todaro embarked on his journey in 1974, downtown Johnstown stood as a thriving retail hub, boasting several full-service jewelers within walking distance. Customers could easily visit various jewelry stores to explore and purchase a diverse range of offerings, resulting in substantial in-store inventory.

Today, the retail landscape has transformed with the advent of social media and online shopping, offering customers a vast array of choices. To cater to these evolving preferences, United Jewelers maintains a well-curated selection of styles in stock. Furthermore, swift shipping options and a willingness by suppliers to provide merchandise on loan have expanded the array of choices available to customers.

Question: What is most rewarding about your business?

Answer: The most rewarding aspect of the business lies in the relationships fostered with customers. United Jewelers, in operation for nearly five decades, has witnessed the patronage of multiple generations within families, as well as their friends and extended networks.

Question: How broad is the territory reached by your products or services?

Answer: The majority of our business activity occurs within a 30- to 50-mile radius. Nonetheless, we do cater to a national clientele, particularly customers who originally hailed from Johnstown and subsequently relocated in pursuit of better employment opportunities.

Question: What have been your biggest business challenges?

Answer: Like many businesses, we have encountered challenges related to recruitment, a diminishing customer base, online sales—especially exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19—and the rising cost of goods, which has compelled us to operate on narrower profit margins in order to maintain affordability.

Question: What advice do you have for people who want to open and sustain a business in Johnstown?

Answer: To embark on a successful entrepreneurial journey, one must have a genuine passion for their chosen business. Operating a small business demands a wholehearted commitment, transcending the confines of a typical 9-5 workweek. There are ebbs and flows in business activity, with periods of high demand followed by quieter moments, so meticulous planning is crucial to navigate these dynamics effectively.


You May Also Like


Giacoloredstones is a colored gem portal. The main columns are Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Tourmaline, Aquamarine, Tanzanite, Amethyst, Garnet, Turquoise, Knowledges, News, etc.【Contact us: [email protected]

© 2023 Copyright