Area jeweler responds to success by expanding flagship store
Updated 11:02 a.m.
SCHENECTADY While most companies were experiencing slow, steady growth in 2011, Northeastern Fine Jewelry was pulling in record-breaking revenue.
With signs pointing to another strong year, the jeweler is preparing to debut a $1.8 million expansion of its flagship store that will accommodate that growth.
“I think we have fantastic customer service,” company President Ray Bleser said of the growth. “I think we’re a value store, and I think that during tough times people seek value rather than just going anywhere to buy something.”
On Wednesday, construction workers were preparing to erect the frame adjacent to the existing store at 1607 Union St. The company purchased the former Michael’s Shoe Service store next door in 2011 and tore it down in March to make way for an additional 1,500 square feet of showroom space — more than doubling the current space.
“The main thing is that we’re staying open during all this construction,” said Bleser.
The idea to expand has been brewing for about a year, he said. Bonacquisti Brothers Construction of Cohoes began work in August, he said, and the hope is to open the larger showroom by Nov. 1.
Bleser first occupied the building on Upper Union Street in 1980, when his store was still known as Northeastern Coin Gallery and he had yet to re-brand it as a jewelry store.
The Schenectady storefront was remodeled in 2005 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the independently owned jeweler, which also has locations in Albany, Vermont, and on State Street in Schenectady.
“This store is like the hub for all our other stores,” Bleser said from inside the Union Street shop, “so when inventory comes in, it always comes here and we tag it, inventory it, and send it out to the other stores.”
But they’ve run out of room to bring in more products and are already sharing office space upstairs. The expansion will allow them to bring in more vendors, expand shipping and receiving space, use a new conference room, and hold special events on a new rooftop terrace.
“It’s kind of a neighborhood store here, so customers come in a lot and like to see new stuff,” he said, “so we’re happy to have a little more space to put some more of our merchandise out. And we can introduce some new vendors and brands that they haven’t seen here before.”
With more products on a larger showroom floor, Bleser expects to add more sales staff, as well.
“I just don’t know by how much right now,” he said.
Next year, the Albany store at 1575 Western Ave. will get a facelift that includes new showcases and carpeting. There’s no room for expansion there or at the jeweler’s Vermont store, Bleser said.