It’s been a long road for Fortunoff, the Long Island landmark of jewelry for generations. The store, located on Old Country Road in Westbury, closed in 2009 during the heart of the economic recession after 45 years in business. Now the brand is back in a big way as the third generation paves the way for a new start
Esther Fortunoff, granddaughter of Max and Clara Fortunoff, recently opened her first brick and mortar store—Fortunoff Fine Jewelry— after four years of hosting the business online.
“We had an overwhelming request from customers that wanted a place to go and try on the jewelry,” she said. “Last year at holiday time, we did a pop-up shop at the Garden City Hotel and we got such a great response that we started getting serious about finding a place.”
Fortunoff took off on the hunt and strangely enough, ended up right back where the booming business made a home so many years ago — in Westbury. The new location, just east of P.F. Changs, is smaller and more intimate, but Fortunoff is bringing touches from the old store to make it feel like home.
“We want to make the small store experience as wonderful as what they remember from the big store,” Fortunoff said.
She brought in two murals from the Fifth Avenue Manhattan store for a feel that she explains is, “uniquely Fortunoff.” She has been lucky to rehire many previous employees and executives and the warmth has already been felt from the community.
“The week before we had the grand opening ceremony, people were just coming into the store,” Fortunoff explained. “So many of them came in and were customers of my father and grandparents from the old store. Some of them I knew, but some of them were strangers to me that were customers for generations. It felt so good to hear the stories and to receive the well-wishes. I knew that opening the store would be a good idea, but these stories really made it a great idea.”
To Fortunoff, the well-wishes represent so much more. “This is incredible for me personally,” she told The Westbury Times. “I am the third generation of a business that, for me, really represented the American Dream. My grandparents came here and opened the store in Manhattan and it’s nice that I can continue the tradition of helping customers.”
Still getting re-adjusted to having a brick-and-mortar store, Fortunoff is in the process of honing in on her inventory, a mix of classic pieces and edgy statement jewelry that will range from $50 to $50,000.
“It’s definitely different than running an e-commerce business because what customers want to buy online is not always necessarily what they would buy in the store,” she explained.
But no matter what the successful mix will look like, Fortunoff is appreciative to be back in the jewelry game for good. “We are just delighted to entice our customers and to help them buy pieces that not only they will enjoy wearing, but pieces that they can pass on to future generations,” she said, adding that she hopes the new collections will constantly be surprising her customers. “We will always have those classic pieces, but we also look for jewelry that is a little more modern and ahead of the curve, but still maintaining Fortunoff’s commitment to quality.”
And although the new store has only been open for a short time, it looks like Fortunoff herself is just getting started on building her own American dream. “I would love to open a few more locations,” she said. “Not a lot, just a few more branches. Maybe something in Manhattan, New Jersey or even further east on Long Island. But we will be happy to give friendly and knowledgeable service to our customers,” said Fortunoff.
Fortunoff Fine Jewelry is located at 1504 Old Country Road in Westbury. Find out more at www.fortunoffjewelry.com