At a time when retailers continue to struggle and disappear, Charles Krypell Fine Jewelry refocused its wholesale distribution business, once based solely in Manhattan, and in December opened a retail outlet in Greenvale. While the 45-year-old company still does wholesale distribution, it’s betting big on retail and put more than $3 million into the 5,000-square-foot store.
Pandemic or not, the store, which took three years to build, was going to be completed. "We’ve wanted retail for some time. My passion is dealing with the end customers. We want to give them an experience, to introduce them to rare jewelry. Even if you’re not in the market at the moment, we want to create the desire," says Evan Krypell, director of retail operations and son of CEO Charles Krypell.
Evan drove the decision to go full-service retail when many retailers are pushing deeper into e-commerce. Charles is glad he listened. "Evan’s been groomed for this since he was born. His performance is just shy of extraordinary. He is the new generation and has a fresh approach," he says.
For sure it was a bold move in uncertain times. Evan is optimistic and shared his reasons with Newsday.
What were some of the challenges in transitioning into retail and doing so in the pandemic?
We were still in the midst of building when COVID hit. We had to halt construction. It was a costly delay. We had planned to open in September, but we didn’t until December, and lost a big part of the Christmas holiday shopping season. With the pandemic, some affluent people left New York — that impacted us. With some mining facilities closed, there is a shortage of cut gemstones. It can take longer to get materials. We buy diamonds from Israel, gems from Africa, all over the world. We have to wing it and assure the customer if it takes three extra weeks to get their jewelry it will be worth the wait.
Are people confident about shopping in stores?
We are spacious, have 27-foot ceilings and an excellent filtration system. We’re primed for social distancing. Just naturally, there would never be more than a few people in the store. But if someone is nervous, we’ll open the store for them to shop privately. On Mondays, shopping is by appointment. We have seen an increase in traffic over the last couple of months as people get vaccinated. I’ve had people tell me they have been passing the store and once they got their vaccine, we were one of their first stops.
Any revealing retail trends?
There is an increase in couples getting engaged at a younger age, early to mid-20s. There’s a wedding boom on Long Island. So many couples started cohabiting during the pandemic. They were living and working together. Couples fell apart and others decided to get married. That’s huge for us, we specialize in custom-made bridal jewelry and can fit any budget from $1,000 to $100,000. You sit with our designer and we can source any gemstones. Our industry has done pretty well during this time. People are sentimental about jewelry. While some lost jobs, others are saving money from not commuting and taking expensive vacations and have extra money.
How are you feeling about the foray into retail?
We went in with no expectations, but at the same time it’s meeting expectations. We have return clients, people recommending us. I’m already thinking about the next store. I learned from my father to always give the client value, quality service, and not to chase money. He said, be passionate about what you do, and the money will come.