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Cabin Fever

Scarsdale, NY, log cabin became a local landmark the moment it opended .

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D’Errico Jewelry, Scarsdale, NY

OWNERS: Richard and Salvatore D’Errico; YEAR FOUNDED: 1988; LOCATION OPENED: 1998; DESIGNER: Self-designed; STORE AREA: 2,650 sq. ft; ADDRESS: 509 Central Park Avenue, Scarsdale, NY; PHONE: (800) 325-3935; URL: derricojewel.com


IT’SONE THING to sell jewelry out of a log cabin in Arkansas. It’s quite another to do so in Scarsdale, NY. But that’s just how the brothers D’Errico roll. At D’Errico Jewelry, doing business in a store made of logs is just the beginning of the fun. For a couple of guys whose first retail location was their own garage, every day is meant to be enjoyed. And while many retailers promise their customers more than just a business transaction, owners Richard and Salvatore D’Errico and their employees actually deliver, combining a real understanding of service with a knowledge of the jeweler’s craft that the brothers have personally cultivated since their youth.

THE HISTORY
Garage Bands

As a teenager, Richard D’Errico got a job as a stockboy at the Bronx jewelry store he passed on the way to school every day. Once he was licensed to drive, he started making regular runs down to Manhattan’s diamond district for his bosses. That led to starting an apprenticeship with manufacturer Harold Freeman in 1980. Four years later, younger brother Salvatore joined him there.

By 1988, Sal says, they were doing enough of their own business to buy a small house in the Bronx and set up shop inthe garage. He says Richard told him, “‘Sal, you take care of the customers; I’ll take care of the jewelry.’”

As the new kids on the block, they had to stand out from the more established players. “We grabbed our niche right off the bat,” Sal says. Capitalizing on people’s natural dislike of being separated from their jewelry, the D’Erricos offered their customers repairs while they waited. It worked then, and it works now. In 1998, the brothers opened their current location — probably the only log cabin of any kind in Scarsdale.

Among other things, the store was built not only to make customers as comfortable as possible, but to give them as much access to the shop as to the showroom.

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THE CONCEPT
Hand-Made Approach

In upscale Scarsdale, about 20 miles north of Manhattan, a log cabin is as incongruous as it sounds. But the D’Erricos are unusual themselves, as first-generation jewelers with peers whose stores were often passed down. (“Everybody is always asking, ‘What does your dad do?’ My dad’s a pastry maker!” says Sal.) And their choice of building was the result of careful consideration.

Besides doing repairs on other designers’ jewelry, the brothers were also making their own. And when they opened their new store, they wanted the building to be handmade as well, to reflect their product. (The D’Erricos estimate that just over half their stock now is their own work — almost entirely platinum pieces.)

As children, they’d spent summers in upstate New York. “I guess we had a little bit of that country in us,” says Sal. They also wanted something warmer than the typical austere retail space. A North Carolina company proposed the log cabin idea. “They didn’t even have to talk. We were sold as soon as we saw it.”

The bold move has paid off. “There’s nothing like it. It turned into a landmark on the fifth day of its existence,” Sal says. He grabbed a taxi with some other commuters that day, and the driver asked where he was going. “I started to say ‘log,’ and the other people in the cab finished it: ‘cabin’!”

It helps that the brothers were determined to make not only the building but the landscape beautiful. Sal says they were pushed to put their parking area in front of the store, just like every other business on their strip, but they were adamant, moving parking to the side and rear, and planting a lush lawn and garden out front.

He estimates that more than half of the store’s new customers come in just because they’re curious about the building.

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THE STORE
Come on In!

And once they’re in, they’re done for. “People walk in and they’re just so comfortable — you hear them say it all the time,” says Robert Hough, the company GM who runs the sales floor.

The high ceilings help. The refreshments in the middle of the store help. And the fireplace, couches, and children’s play area in the corner help. Even boyfriends, husbands, and kids can relax at D’Errico — allowing girlfriends, wives, and moms to take their time. And the guys’ favorite subject? “They ask questions about the logs,” says Sal.

But what really makes D’Errico stand out is that customers aren’t confined to the showroom. If someone comes in to get her rings cleaned, she’s more than welcome — encouraged, even — to step back into the shop and watch. Same thing goes for sizing and setting jobs, or other repairs.

Richard’s bench, three times as long as a normal one, sits high above it all. On busy days, he says, customers are lined up to watch him work on their pieces. He has a video camera hooked up to a monitor that lets them watch him set their center stones or do other close work.

THE TECHNOLOGY
Old Meets New

The D’Erricos are plenty up to date, with Richard’s monitor setup, two plasma screens in the showroom, and high-speed PCs scattered all over. But what makes the store unique isn’t the new tech.

It’s the old stuff. They’re thinking of getting a CAD system, but right now, for the custom-design work, all sketches are done by hand, with a professor from Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology coming up most weekends as a guest artist. Models are made in-house, as are molds and waxes, which customers get to approve before the final pieces are cast.

And yes, the casting and all that follows is done at the store. They even employ a pearl stringer.

Nowadays, with a premium put on handcrafted works of any kind, the fact that customers can watch their treasures being made from concept to finish means D’Errico can promise more than just metal and jewels in exchange for a credit card.

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THE PEOPLE
Caution: Flying Chickens!

Maria Cobuzzi has sold jewelry for years, and she left a job in Manhattan to come to D’Errico. “It’s the best place I’ve ever worked,” she says.

Peggy Campbell, director of membership for the American Gem Society, visited the store recently when the brothers applied for membership. She says, “The feeling in there is just really warm. There’s a lot of bantering going on.”

But maybe Hough, sums it up best: “It’s a frickin’ comedy act in the works. You’ll know when we get busy, because a rubber chicken will come flying over the wall.”

He moved from Colorado to work for the D’Erricos, and he says the primary reason is that the brothers are just plain fun.

“Richard and Sal invite everybody in. They get to know people like you’ve never seen anybody get to know you before,” Hough says. “We can cater to everybody, but we’re far from snobby.”

CONCLUSION
And Much, Much More

There’s plenty more to mention: Richard’s AGTA award-winning pearl necklace and other breathtaking designs. Or the parties. They held a men’s night with microbrews, cigars, and poker— and showed the men their wives’ and girlfriends’ wish lists from the wine-and-cheese ladies’ night the week before.

But words are no substitute for a visit. Again,Hough says it best:

“If you watch hockey on TV, it’s kind of exciting. If you watch hockey from the stands, it’s even more exciting,” he says. “But we like being on the ice.”

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