Jeff Stumpf buys the business from retiring Tar and Sandy Smith
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Terry (Tar) and Sandy Smith, owners of GoldSmith Jewelers, are retiring. They are leaving their jewelry business in the capable hands of Jeff Stumpf who has been with them since 1996.
“We are looking forward to spending time with our (soon-to-be) nine grandchildren,” said Sandy.
While they said they will miss their old friends, their customers and the new friends they make almost every day, they plan to keep busy.
“We are moving to our cabin in western Minnesota and will be fishing and hunting,” said Tar.
“And, we also plan on visiting all 50 states plus doing some foreign travel,” said Sandy.
Tar said one of the hardest part of moving away will be leaving Ducks Unlimited, which he’s been part of for more than 40 years, and the Exchange Club, which he’s been with for 26 years.
Before jewelry was in his blood and a mere 17, he went to Minneapolis for a summer job at a jewelry manufacturing company before college. That’s where he got the urge to make it his career. He attended St. Cloud State and joined the National Guard in the late 1960s, then went back into the jewelry business. He became an apprentice for four years to become a master jeweler and master setter.
“I started a trade shop in Alexandria, where I did repairs and settings for other jewelry stores,” he said. “I then purchased Carlson Jewelers in downtown Little Falls in 1987, staying there for five years. I then bought the property where we are currently located.”
Thirty jewelry stores from the upper Midwest used GoldSmith for settings and repairs.
Tar and Sandy married in 1998, and he said she was a natural in the jewelry business.
“I love selling and love even more seeing the happy faces when they leave here with a new piece of jewelry,” she said.
The retail part of the business doubled in size when GoldSmith expanded in 2002. The business had just one counter when it first opened, today there are several.
Stumpf will take over the first week in October as the new owner of GoldSmith Jewelers. And he’s excited.
“Tar told me when I started to work with him that he would groom me to take over the business,” he said. “I was just 21 years old, newly married and a child to support. I really had not much of a future where I was. This was a great opportunity to learn from a professional like Tar. And, it was a good time to start to focus on my future.”
Stumpf said his career started with wrecking stuff.
“Tar was so patient, I was lucky to have learned from him, to have sat next to him,” said Stumpf. “He made it all look so easy.”
While Stumpf knew he was being trained to eventually take over, it came fast when a couple of years ago, Tar said he was ready to retire.
“It all came together this summer,” he said.
Stumpf said he will be looking for someone to come in to be mentored, like he was. Someone eager to learn the repair side of the business.
Stumpf attended the Gemology Institute of America for three years and has been certified in colored stones. He also works with diamonds, stone grading and is knowledgeable with all types of settings. He said he learned from the best.
The Smiths will stick around until Christmas to help in the transition.
“We want to thank our customers and friends for their support,” said Sandy.
“GoldSmith customers can expect the same good service and excellent repair they are used to,” she said. “The business will just be missing the two grey-haired people.”
Stumpf doesn’t plan to make many changes. Nancy Przybilla and Brenda Rudolph will remain on staff. He said he may add some color to the retail shop and reconfigure the cases, but the changes will be small. With a new owner, he wants a fresh, new look.