B. Freedman Jewelers of Huntington to close after 78 years

Eric Freedman, owner and president of Freedman Jewelers, Eric Freedman, owner and president of Freedman Jewelers, at the Huntington store on New York Avenue on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The store closes June 21 after 78 years in business. Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Like a diamond, B. Freedman Jewelers has stood the test of time, but the venerable Huntington store is slated to close this month after 78 years.

The New York Avenue store has been an integral part of the community and a go-to place for generations to buy precious gifts, mostly, customers say, due to the solid gold management of proprietor and world-respected appraiser Eric Freedman."There are two rules in the store: Rule one is 'The customer is always right,' and the second rule is 'If the customer is wrong, see rule one,' " said Freedman, 68, of Northport.

Regina Vieweg has patronized the store since she made her first purchase -- a cross for her daughter's christening -- 30 years ago. "The closing is bittersweet," the Lloyd Harbor resident said. "It's an anchor in town. All the kids get excited when a present comes from Freedman's. As do I."

Former Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce co-president Robert Bontempi said, "To lose a legacy business like Freedman Jewelers that has made such a mark on the community is simply sad."

He said he hopes whatever business occupies the space "brings the same value and commitment to Huntington residents that Freedman Jewelers did."

Freedman, who is retiring, said owning the store has been "fabulous. . . . If I thought I was going to live another 100 years, I'd probably go another 20 or 30 years, but it's time to do some other things."

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Freedman, an avid sailor, said he looks forward to traveling the world in his sailboat, The Kimberlite. But he will miss the day-to-day operations of his store. He had hoped one of his three sons would take over the business, but they all have forged successful careers.

Freedman started out as an engineer, but was always connected to the jewelry business. His grandfather, Julius Freedman, started in the business 117 years ago, and Julius' four sons followed in his footsteps.

One of the sons, Eric Freedman's father, Barney -- the B that Eric later incorporated into the store's name -- opened a shop in 1936 in Huntington, about a block south of the current store. After his father died in 1969, Eric Freedman bought the business.

In 1997, Freedman served as president of the American Gem Society and in 1991 was awarded the Robert M. Shipley award, the highest honor a certified gemologist can receive. He has appraised both the Hope and Tiffany diamonds.

Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said Freedman donated a majestic clock that stands over downtown, on New York Avenue. It speaks to the jeweler's dedication and generosity, he said.

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"Eric and his parents have always been generous neighbors," Petrone said. "There never was a time they didn't give back to the community. The store closing and not continuing is unfortunate and a great loss."

Selling baubles doesn't have a downside, Freedman said. "People don't come in and say, 'I hate my wife, I want to buy a piece of jewelry,' " Freedman said. "The business is about making people happy. We're selling love and happiness."

The store closes June 21.

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