We’re all in the mode of hunkering down, staying in our homes, and hoping for the best. But there’s also a compelling argument to be made that now is a decent time to finally pull the trigger on the watch you’ve been looking at. There are plenty of stories floating around about instances where watches that are usually in the safe downstairs are coming out and becoming available. It’s all speculation and anecdotal, but the fact remains: Retailers need cash flow to stay alive.
With that being said, here are two great family-run businesses to consider. One is right in HODINKEE’s backyard over in Flushing, NYC. The other is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Below you’ll find their stories.
On a personal note, I find reading and editing the stories of retailers particularly interesting because they often touch on the ideas that make watches so easy to fall in love with. There’s a tradition handed down from one generation to the next, there’s a shared passion, there are undertones of nostalgia for the good ole days. The narratives involved often follow the same arc as the stories we hear on Talking Watches, but instead of simply a watch, it’s the business of watches. And that’s something we’d all love to see continue – not only for the retailers below, but for every single one out there.
My great grandfather was a watchmaker, and he decided to go out on his own and open a retail jewelry store and watch repair shop. The business was founded in the East Liberty area of Pittsburgh in 1887, right around the corner from the main railway station. He purchased the building with a down payment of $5, and he was there to service the watches of those who worked on the railroad. They had to be regulated and checked every month. He built a reputation as a fine jeweler and watchmaker serving the east end of Pittsburgh. We have survived World Wars, the depression, and many recessions as well as three generational transfers. We even have the accounting ledger from 1926 through 1934: Business dropped by 72% during that time yet they managed to stay in business.
We hired a certified master watchmaker from Austin, TX, 18 years ago to take care of our customer’s watches. He has over 45 years of experience. We recently hired another watchmaker who graduated from Lititz Watch Technicum three years ago to learn from our experienced watchmaker. We actively take trade-ins and help sell watches for our customers, and we do appraisals too. In fact, we recently sent our new watchmaker and our appraiser to a customer’s home to do an appraisal on 100 of his watches. We do our best to carry desired brands for our customers, such as Rolex, Omega, Tudor, Longines, NOMOS, Tissot, and Luminox.
NOMOS. I am so impressed with this company; their level of service is similar to ours. They just plain and simple do what is right for the customer. You always have to pay attention to Rolex, particularly in this recent economic environment. It is nice to get a watch that has historically done a great job at holding its value.
Service. We bend over backward for our customers and live by the motto to “do what is right, even when it hurts.” We offered five-year warranties on all of our Rolex watches far before Rolex started doing that in 2015. We regularly take care of service at no charge that is not covered by manufacturers’ warranties.
They can reach me via email at email@example.com or call our store at 412-682-0226.
5501 Walnut St. Suite 1, Pittsburgh, PA 15232
It all started with a $5 digital watch.
Allen Mon was born in Taiwan and came to America at the age of 27 to pursue the American Dream. After graduating with a Master’s Degree in Marketing, he had the opportunity to rent a spot in New Jersey’s Kearny Flea Market selling digital watches. Little did he know, those digital watches would become his greatest opportunity. It was through his hard work, personable skills, and the $5 digital watches where he finally earned his “First Bucket of Gold” or his first share of wealth. Having grown up without money, these initial earnings gave Allen the opportunity to pursue his dream to start his own business. In February 1983, Allen opened his own jewelry store called “Allan Jewelry” (from an earlier spelling of his name).
Carat N Karat
1985 was full of new beginnings. Allen met Lisa in Flushing, NY, and they were soon married after. Lisa joined Allen in his business at the Busy Bee Mall of Massapequa, Long Island. This was the beginning of their lifelong partnership in business. In 1988, they had saved enough money from their hard work and were able to open their first store on Long Island. To celebrate this new store opening, Allen and Lisa renamed “Allan Jewelry” to “Carat N Karat,” with Carat representing Allen and Karat representing Lisa.
During this time, the city of Flushing was rapidly growing. Allen and Lisa had an emotional connection to this community because it was where they had first met. In 1993, the duo decided to relocate their business to Flushing. They worked hard to establish relationships and the trust of their community. Not long after, Carat N Karat became the official Authorized Retailer in Flushing for Omega, Longines, Piaget, Vacheron Constantin, and many more over the next 20 years.
Carat & Co.
In 2010, Allen and Lisa’s three kids, Melissa, Tiffany, and Derek, joined the family business, renaming it to Carat & Co. Having seen their parents working endlessly in the business, Melissa, Tiffany, and Derek grew up appreciating these watches and their parents’ passion. In 2015, the family opened a new three-story boutique in the heart of downtown Flushing’s Main Street, home to over 25 luxury watch and jewelry brands.
We enjoy hosting special events in-store and off-site, and our goal is to provide a channel for watch enthusiasts to enjoy this community that has brought us all together.
Our Anniversary Watch & Jewelry Event is where we showcase new and special pieces from our brands, including limited editions and complicated pieces such as tourbillons, minute repeaters, high jewelry watches, Métiers d’Art and more. As an appreciation to both our loyal and new customers, we raffle off an exciting array of watches, jewelry, and accessories in a party with live music, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails.
We also host events in partnership with our watch brands such as movie pre-screenings, sporting events, celebrity meet and greets, and private dinners. We also sponsor Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival cancer fundraiser in honor of our co-founder, Lisa. Our team, “Cypher For Survival,” has also raised money for rare cancer research through our break-dancing competitions sponsored by Seiko USA held in New York.
Carat & Co. is a supporter of the Horological Society of New York. Our team members have supported events such as the 2019 HSNY Gala & Charity Auction and attend HSNY lectures. We also organize in-store watch meet-ups and post-trade show product previews with the local watch communities such as the Grand Seiko Owners Club.
In all the brands we carry, there’s something incredible to find. But if we had to choose just a few watch brands, we’d suggest in no particular order: Omega, Cartier, Longines, Vacheron Constantin, Grand Seiko, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Blancpain, IWC, Zenith, Breguet, and Piaget.
We’ve all been there: We saved up enough money to finally buy our first watch, but there are so many options out there. Our multilingual team will guide you through the best watch from our expertise, because what’s important to us is building a long-term relationship with our customers from their first watch to hopefully their next generation’s first watch. Aside from watches, Carat & Co. also specializes in carrying high luxury jewelry, custom engagement and bridal jewelry, accessories, and gifts that would most likely lead your boss to give you a promotion.
Although our shop is temporarily closed, we are available online to ship. We are happy to connect with you via email, phone and on social media. Please check us out on: Facebook, Instagram, WeChat (CaratCoNY), and YouTube. Or, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
39-09 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11354
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