A family-owned jewelry business with more than 100 years of history in and around Brooklyn Heights is closing and may be gone for good from the neighborhood if ownership can’t find a location with reasonable rent.
The third generation owner of Jewels by Satnick, on State Street between Court Street and Boerum Place, said the building he is in now has been sold and he hasn’t been offered a new lease, and even though he would like to keep designing jewelry to the community in which the business has been embedded for generations, the times they are-a changin’.
“I’m trying to work it out, but you can’t expect me to pay triple the rent I’m paying now,” said Roger Satnick, whose grandfather opened Satnick and Sons in Williamsburg more than 100 years ago. “I’m part of a dying breed. With me will go a century of what this area used to be.”
The younger Satnick blamed those rising rents and competition from national jewelry chains has made it difficult to relocate.
“You just can’t compete with the big guys,” he said.
That wasn’t the case when his grandfather Max Satnick arrived from Riga, Latvia, in the early 1900s, and began the business as a jewelry peddler, selling his wares on the streets of Brooklyn. Before long he had bought a building in Williamsburg, where he opened the first brick and mortar iteration of the family business.
Satnick’s father, Hartley — the only certified master watchmaker in New York City — moved the business to 50 Court St. in May of 1960, and it was on these neighborhood streets where Satnick grew up underfoot with the mischievous offspring of other shopkeepers. Standing in his State Street store, Roger recalled another time, full of kids running around and beat cops tossing the troublemakers back into their parents’ stores by the seats of their pants.
“We used to run these streets,” he said, pointing beyond the walls. “Everybody watched out for each other.”
Roger worked in his father’s shop as a kid and returned in his late twenties after studying Jewelry Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and apprenticing with other jewelry makers. He struck out on his own for about seven years in the late 1990s, but eventually returned to the family business around 2005 when his father was on the verge of closing up shop, then on Joralemon Street, and moving to Florida. It was then that Roger moved the shop to its State Street location.
For now, Roger said he is focusing on selling inventory and locating an office space where he can set up a studio and continue providing custom gems to his loyal customers.
The store will close on June 13.