How does a store get built? Not a renovation of your family’s store; not buying another jeweler’s store and making it your own but a store built from scratch? Enter David Ustaev. At 7 years of age David Ustaev, living in Russia, was fascinated by the beauty of gemstones. He wanted to trade in precious stones and diamonds. His great grandfather traded gemstones throughout the Middle East and South Asia during the silk trade era. His father was in the jewelry business. It was in his blood. He became a graduate gemologist in Russia, having chosen being a jeweler as his true vocation.
He opened a tiny store in Manhattan in 1991 and started an on-line store in 2002, eons before other jewelers thought of selling through the Internet. In addition, he has always created custom pieces, both for his store and for his customers. Then in 2014 he decided the time was right to open a bigger store in Long Island his own “expression of freedom” as David says. He chose Cedarhurst as it is close to where he lives and also an affluent area that is underserved.
He found a space and called Keith Kovar, whose firm (GRID/3) he had been reading about to meet him at the potential site to evaluate it’s possibilities. The space was a good size – 3700 square feet plus a big basement – but had a very low ceiling and an odd shape. David and Keith decided to make the final decision once demolition of the existing retail space was all but completed. At a second meeting, it was decided that David would finalize his lease and Keith would begin the planning and layout, always keeping his client’s budget in mind. David wanted an office for his internet business, space for a jeweler and a watchmaker, storage, an office for himself which would double as a private selling space plus an ADA compliant bathroom. All this planned into about 850 square feet of space so that the retail space was spacious. The first order was the discussion about a vault versus safes. 2 safes were decided upon because a vault was difficult with the full basement. They were positioned near and on the structure within the space although the landlord insisted on a structural engineer to do the final calculations. A buzz in vestibule was designed for security. The custom tempered glass and stainless steel design is visually open and sets off 2 display windows – there is considerable foot traffic.
Design was next – a warm color scheme since David wanted his customers to feel comfortable. A combination carpet and large porcelain floor tile is laid out in angles and curves. The ceiling, albeit low, was designed with different levels of drywall and sound absorbing ceiling tile echoing the flow of the floor layout. State of the art LED lighting was specified including LED illuminated strips. Much of the lighting specified is adjustable to allow for David’s addition of cases as business grows. All of the casework is custom, specially designed to suit the requirements of the merchandise display.
David hired Gary Schroder of Visual Exhibitions to do the visual merchandising for the store and to assist in which displays to use within the cases and how to set them up. Gary redoes the windows 4 times a year and refreshes the interior biannually.
David Desso has fine, upscale brands within his store with a couple of less expensive brands to entice younger customers, getting them interested in and comfortable with buying jewelry. His 2 sons assist in the store. This combination of David’s experience and his son’s youth has resulted in a rich approach to marketing the new store, which opened in November 2015. Postcards, Facebook, email blasts and Instagram are all used to market to customers. The watchmaker has proved a draw since there are few experienced artisans repairing watches in Long Island. A jeweler will be hired when business warrants it. The 30% custom work that David Desso creates for their customers is easily dealt with due to the proximity to New York City. With David’s warm personality, this store is set to become a destination for watch lovers, couples in search of their ideal engagement ring and jewelry lovers looking to enhance their appearance.