Ramble On Ron

Diamonds, Music and other Facets of Life

The Samuelson Family is Rebuilding Baltimore

Posted on | April 11, 2009 | 5 Comments

Well it’s almost here. After eight long years of waiting, negotiating, and thinking about the redevelopment of our city block, the 400 block of West Baltimore Street, we are finally ready to move forward. And it all started in 1972 when my grandfather, Milton Samuelson, bought four properties on this block after our move from 902 Pennsylvania Avenue, where we were since 1922. It’s the third move in the history of our business. This move is a lot closer, just across the street. But the change for Samuelson’s Diamonds, formerly known as “Boston Loan”, is huge.

My great grandfather, Samuel Samuelson, (yes you read it right) was an immigrant from Lithuania. He first owned a hay, feed and grain store (this was before there were cars) and then a bar. His five sons and a daughter were all born above that bar. Our store, a pawnshop, was actually founded by my great uncle, Aaron Samuelson, the oldest of the brothers. This store was the financier of all Samuelson Family business, whether it was real estate deals or other stores. One was Crown Loan, another Baltimore pawn shop, and Tommy Tucker Five and Dime Shops. In 1936, my grandfather, who was the youngest, bought our business from his older brother Aaron and it flourished. My father came to work in the 60’s and I’ve been here since I was a kid in the 80’s, on summer breaks and Saturdays. When I got here full time in 1994, we were a very successful pawnbroker and jeweler. Sure I liked the guitars and other cool stuff, but it was diamonds that interested me the most. I do believe that the pawn business suffered from the Home Depot’s, Guitar Center’s and Walmart’s of the world. Ebay became a big help to move stuff, but you can also argue that it hurts the pawnshop, as people can find pretty much anything second hand at a good price.

Anyway, I took my last Stratocaster and a nice Paul Reed Smith and I got rid of the other stuff. Just concentrated on jewelry and started catering to my website customers. There was, of course, a HUGE magnetic force of resistance coming from my father, and understandably so. The business had served him and his father very well. Why change? Why screw up a good thing? In 2003, when my brother-in-law, David, came on board, we tore it up. Why? One thing my grandfather always said was, “Change with the times.” There you go. Aside from the fact the I love the jewelry business, you have to change. And it’s for the better.

We partnered with David S Brown Enterprises and A & R Development and not only did we build ourselves a beautiful new jewelry store, but we’re making this block beautiful. PNC Bank, Five Guys, Panera Bread, and other major retailers will be our tenants and this will be a neighborhood that people will want to visit.

So CHECK OUT OUR FLICKR PAGE to take a look at the progress of our new store. Soon you’re gonna walk in and I’ll put up a video of your favorite song on the plasma, and we’ll hang out and talk about diamonds – or about music or sports or whatever you want. Get ready for the new Samuelson’s Experience in 2009 and take a look at one of my favorite videos that gives me chills every time I see it:

Oh yeah, and we have three new websites on the way…

Comments

  • Wow, what a fabulous story for Baltimore, Congrats! Its been far too long for the West Side turnaround. A&R and David Brown have done fabulous projects around the city, so i am sure this project will be another example of that. we need 50 more small business leaders like yourself with the same vision and tenacity.

    Looking forward to checking out your new store soon!

  • ron

    Thanks Tracy – I hope you will stop by and say hi!

    Best,
    Ron

  • Jennifer

    Nice history lesson Ron, it’s fascinating that your family has been in business for so long…that’s very rare these days…you should be very proud! Good post!

    Cheers ~ Jen

  • Pingback: Development Spotlight: 400 West Baltimore « Urban Discoveries Living Blog()

  • Colleen Samuelson Howard

    Hi ..my great grandfather was also Samuel Samuelson..he immagrated  from Norway to Newfoundland …my father Cyril Samuelson was a seaman and went to Ontario Canada and I am Colleen Samuelson…it is hard to get information on the name Samuelson…i am married now and can be reached at colleenthoward@yahoo.ca