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
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.
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.
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
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
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
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.