Barthman in Brooklyn

May 1999


Barthman in Brooklyn

Wall Street's esteemed jeweler designs a new store for a new customer

William Barthman Jewelers has served Wall Street tycoons in downtown New York City since 1884. Known for the vintage clock embedded in the sidewalk outside, the store revels in its old-fashioned design – a center aisle flanked by showcases, high ceilings and full-front windows crowded with merchandise.

When owner Jerry Natkin opened a new location in Brooklyn recently, he needed to convey a different message. A Brooklyn resident himself, he recognized a population of upper-middle-class consumers who don't necessarily travel to Manhattan to shop. He also knew they would be less comfortable with an extravagant setting than his Manhattan customers.

Product Progression
With this in mind, Natkin bought an old discount store on King's Highway, a shopping district, and hired Keith Kovar of Grid/3 International, New York City, to redesign it. The long, narrow building was perfect for a store layout that suited the diverse Brooklyn customer base. Kovar divided the space into three rooms that group merchandise by value to help customers choose without wandering all over the store.

Customers walk into a room of popularly priced jewelry, then into the middle room with designer jewelry and about 20 watch lines. Finally, they reach the back room, a "sit-down" area for diamonds and higher-priced giftware. Columns and ceiling beams direct customers through the rooms.

The cash/checkout area is located between the first two showrooms, where it doesn't create a crowd but can still be controlled, Kovar explains. The bench jeweler and watchmaker sit in separate rooms with windows so customers can watch them work.

Classic Design
While he wanted a departure from the Manhattan store, Kovar still considered William Barthman's distinguished reputation. "We had to create a store that is classic in appearance," he says. "We couldn't do anything too avant-garde."

Instead he strove for a clean, durable appearance that avoids looking expensive or exclusive. He chose ceramic tiles instead of marble or granite on the storefront, for example, and he limited the amount of merchandise shown in the three small display windows. He chose an elegant color scheme: cream, taupe and blue inside and out. Showcases with a cherry finish and brass trim reflect the shape of the ceiling above them. A well of light located above the central showcases brightens and seems to enlarge the rooms, while a Lalique chandelier disperses interesting light patterns.

He couldn't overlook one trademark element of the Manhattan store – the clock. Instead of using the sidewalk this time, he placed an Ebel clock on the storefront above the brass letters of the store's name.

– by Stacey King

Ceramic tile and sparse display windows create a low-key image for Barthman's Brooklyn store.








Columns lead customers through the store, while a light well in the coffered ceiling casts dramatic light around the room.





The value of merchandise rises as you move through the store's three rooms.











Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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