Industry / Retail

Steven Rosdal, Hyde Park Jewelers Cofounder, Dies


Steven “Rosie” Rosdal, who cofounded Hyde Park Jewelers and helped build it into one of America’s most respected independents, died on April 6. He was 77.

Born in Queens, N.Y., Rosdal received a B.S. in economics from Cornell University and originally set out to be a veterinarian, but he didn’t like the sight of blood. So he took a job on Wall Street. When the market was going through a downturn, he decided to move west, with only $1,600 to his name.

“I already decided to move to either Denver or Atlanta,” he recalled in a 2016 interview with website 21 for 21. “Then I saw the Robert Redford movie Jeremiah Johnson that was filmed in the Colorado Rockies and thought, ‘I like the four seasons and I’m a skier.’ So I came to Denver.”

In Colorado, Rosdal fell in with a group of people who got together to play volleyball. One of them was a doctor and collector of Native American jewelry. Rosdal joined him on a buying trip and ended up purchasing some himself. “It was really neat,” he said in the 21 for 21 interview. “[I] sold half of what I brought back and got all my money back, so I kept going.”

His timing was excellent: Native American jewelry had become hot, and within a year and a half Rosdal’s Turquoise Trading Company was doing $1.5 million in sales.

By 1976, the fad had cooled, and Rosdal and Michael Pollak opened Hyde Park Jewelers in Denver. When it started, it didn’t sell anything worth more than $30. But it soon expanded into fine jewelry.

“There was an opening in the city for a jeweler like us,” Rosdal told 21 for 21. “We had an eye to what was going on and we picked the right lines, worked really hard, and about a year and a half in, we started selling watches. Every jeweler in this town was traditional, meaning they had no eye to fashion, they didn’t do designer jewelry; they did just the classics. We were doing designer bands and things that today are commonplace, but back then people weren’t doing it.”

Hyde Park sometimes embraced offbeat ideas, as when Rosdal had an early seller of Famous Amos cookies set up a stand in the jewelry store. “I don’t think we made a penny on Famous Amos cookies ever, but the amount of traffic and conversation that we garnered from having this island of Famous Amos cookies was huge,” he told 21 for 21.

“We made a lot of mistakes, but we built a place people wanted to come and they wanted to see, and we always had something different and new.”

Hyde Park eventually grew to 10 stores in several Western states, with “a national reputation,” Rosdal said. Last year, it became part of the 1916 Company.

Rosdal sold his stake in the business in 2006 and turned his attention to a new store, SHR Jewelers. Reflecting on his career a decade later, he said, “When I look at it, I think I’m fortunate. I’d have to say my life for the most part worked out.”

Rosdal is survived by his son, Aaron; brother, Richard; two grandsons; and former wife and lifelong friend, Lynn. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the following charities: Denver Health, Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, and the Gastrointestinal Research Foundation. A funeral will be held on April 11; details can be seen here.

(Photo from Feldman Mortuary)

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By: Rob Bates

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