Remembrance of Things Past

January 1999


Remembrance of Things Past

Square footage forces a venerable San Francisco jewelry store to rethink its focus

Shreve & Co. was a fixture in downtown San Francisco, CA, well before the neighborhood became prime real estate. But that didn't prevent the jewelry store from falling victim to the city's outrageous rents.

Because of the healthy, competitive economic conditions in the Bay Area right now, the cost of downtown retail space is comparable to Fifth Avenue in New York City and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, says Shreve & Co. President Richard Horne. When the landlord of the building where Shreve & Co. has resided since 1906 raised the rent last year, the company decided to sacrifice 2,000 square feet – more than a quarter of the total store area.

Management decided total showcase footage for jewelry and watches had to remain the same. "We had a history of silver and tabletops going back to the early days of the century when the store was built," says Horne. "But we had to concentrate on our main business: fine jewelry, diamonds and watches."

A wall was built along the back of the store, eliminating the giftware department and the watch boutique, a central pavilion built just a few years ago to blend with the store's mahogany decor. To preserve the watches' prominence and create an illusion of more space, the store expanded its windows along the Grant Avenue wall from narrow shadowboxes to full display windows and moved its watch department there for the world (or at least San Franciscans) to see. The remodeling took three months, and Shreve plans more changes this spring.

– by Jack Heeger and Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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