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EASTVIEW EXPANSIONThe Mann family chats about their future plans
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CONTENTS SPRING/SUMMER 2013
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28 Eats: Food for Thought
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34 Designers: David & Sybil Yurman
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In 1968 Manns Jewelers opened their new location at the corner of Monroe Avenue and Clover Street. Having just relocated from bustling downtown Clinton Avenue, a move to the suburban and (at that time) undeveloped township of Brighton/Pittsford, gave Irving and Gertrude Mann some pause. After all, they had invested all they had into their small jewelry businesswould their gamble be a winning one? Would moving to the outskirts of the community, and away from the heart of business and commerce, be alluring for customers, or would the store be overlooked and forgotten?
On opening day, the doors swung open, looking out onto a quiet landscape dotted with a small sprinkle of neighborhood businesses. And the rest, as they say, is history.
2013 marks another landmark year for Manns Jewelers. In the fall, Manns will open their second location, a 7,000 square foot jewel box in the renovated Von Maur wing of Eastview Mall in Victor, NY. A lot has changed since 1968: Manns Jewelers vast collection of ne jewelry and timepieces often doesnt get displayed all at once due to space constraints; ve goldsmiths work side by side in an on-site studio, diligently trying to keep pace with repair and custom-design requests. During some events, shoppers are given pagers at the door, ensuring their place in the queue to receive service.
As the Mann family moves forward with building plans this year, they also look back: reminiscing about their years in the family business, recalling special moments and funny stories. Listen in on a recent guided conversation between founder Irving Mann and his children, CEO Nancy Mann and president Robert Mann.
What was it like when you moved to Brighton/Pittsford in 1968?Irving: When I rst opened up here, there was a drugstore on one side, and a supermarket on the other. We had come from an urban downtown area, SibleysMcCurdys where everyone went to shop. There were mobs of people. When we had to vacate that location due to urban renewal, it felt like a disaster. We had built up a business and suddenly had no place to go. One day my wife saw a sale on shoes, and she ran to the store to shop the saleand it happened to be in the Monroe/Clover Plaza. She saw that the shoe store was going out of business and as a result we checked it out. When
we moved to Brighton/Pittsford, we were the only jeweler here for many years.
Nancy: When we moved here in 1968, this was the country. Across the street where Starbucks is now, there was
a car dealership, Nagle Ford. It felt
very rural at the time. I remember walking into this new store as a child and thinking How will we ever ll all this space with merchandise? The store downtown had been so small, a covered trash can doubled as the salespersons stool behind this tiny little counter where we would show engagement rings.
Robert: We had 650 square feet on 158 Clinton Avenue South, near RBI and Xerox: so small you had to go outside just to change your mind! We were moving to a 1,300 square foot location in Brighton/Pittsford. What was interesting, when looking at the pamphlets and brochures from the old store, was that in addition to jewelry we used to sell Samsonite luggage, toasters and other general merchandise. Where did we put it all?
Was there a dening moment when you knew the move was a success?Irving: Well it took about two years. In addition to our old customers taking the bus from downtown to say hello, we made new friends and customers from the surrounding neighborhoods.
Now, Manns Jewelers is known for carrying legendary brands. What was your rst brand?Irving: Rolex. It was a big deal back then, and still is. The rst time they came to see the store, they said Nah, this isnt for us. I kept sending letters to Rolex. It was my dream to one day acquire such a legendary brand. Now,
Im proud to say were exclusive with Rolex in Rochester.What are some of the more memorable pieces of jewelry youve seen?Robert: Weve worked on an NBA championship ring, a Super Bowl ring and a World Series ringthats kind of cool.
What is the funniest story you can remember?Irving: One day a couple of ladies came from RG&E for an inspection. I took them upstairs. We had a false ceiling here at that time, in a corner of the 2nd oor, behind a door clearly marked Do Not Enter. I went back downstairs
to work on the sales oor. The next thing I know [laughing], I see two high heels and silk stockings come through the ceiling. First one, and then the other. I ran up under her and yelled to the staff, Get me a ladder! She settled around my shoulders, wrapping her legs around me like we were in a chicken ght pool game!
Nancy: [Laughing] A couple of years ago, I was at a charity auction, and a gentleman came up to me and said, You know, youre probably too young
to remember, but I was at your store the day a woman came through the ceiling and landed on your fathers head! It was one
of the funniest things ever.
Irving, Nancy and Robert Mann share why 2013 is going to be a year to remember. Interview by MEGAN CRAWFORD
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Another time, many years ago, we ordered some big tubs of rigatoni and meatballs for our staff for dinner. A few days later, one of our employees, instead of throwing the leftovers in the trash, took this whole big tub of meatballs upstairs and decided to ush them down the toilet. All of a sudden, the toilet overowed and dripped through the old ceiling. We had ceiling fans going because it was hot, and the fans start inging spaghetti sauce all over, whoosh, whoosh! We cleaned up the mess and kept on working; weve had a lot of laughs along the way.
Robert: So it was cloudy with a chance of meatballs? [Laughing] Once when I was 15, my parents were at a trade show in New York City, at the Hilton. I was bored and decided to meet up with a friend I had recently met at summer camp, from Queens. We were out running around the streets. He was a tough, cool looking kid like Fonzie. At some point we returned to the hotel to nd my family at the jewelry show and were intercepted with Excuse me, are you boys supposed to be here? They wer