Alan Zell (1930-2015)

Alan Zell was born in Portland, Oregon. He was the second-generation of the successful Zell Brother’s jewelry business. Alan’s father, Julius, was one of four brothers who emigrated from Austria to the Pacific Northwest around the time of the First World War. In 1922, Julius married Lillian Freudenstein, whose family originated from Leipzig, Germany. Interestingly, Lillian’s sister, Hannah, was married to Julius’ brother, Harry.  

Alan had one brother, Martin. Their early childhood was spent in the Dolph Park neighborhood of Northeast Portland. Alan attended Fernwood and Ainsworth grade schools and Lincoln High School. He began working in the family store at age eight, delivering wrapped packages. During his school summer breaks, Alan worked in the various store departments, eventually gaining experience in all of them. Alan attended college at USC and Vanport College, and served in the United States Air Force beginning in 1949.  

He trained at Lackland Air Force Base to become a radar instructor and served in the Korean War at a radar shop. After completing his service in 1954 (he was released several months early to return home because his mother had a serious illness), Alan returned to the store and worked closely with his uncle Dan. Together, Dan and Alan worked to improve sales at the store by implementing Dan’s “watch-band theory” of arranging items in a certain manner to enhance their appeal to the customers.

Alan worked with Zell Bros. in the retail jewelry business until 1983, when he decided to leave after the Zale corporation designated him to be the company bookkeeper, a role that Alan did not enjoy. Alan started his business, “Attitudes for Selling” and worked with the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) and the Active Corps of Executives (ACE) to teach small businesses about sales. Alan died on November 7, 2015.

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