Mystic - After 93 years, Mallove's, one of the most venerable names in southeastern Connecticut commerce, has finally arrived - in Mystic.
Mallove's Jewelers, a downtown New London fixture for 87 years before moving to Waterford in 2006, has opened its much-anticipated Mystic store at the corner of Cottrell and East Main streets, literally a Frisbee toss from the Stonington end of the Mystic drawbridge.
It's another, bigger bridge - the Gold Star Memorial that spans the Thames River - that Jim Mallove, the jeweler's third-generation owner, had been intent on crossing.
"There's a great local demographic on this side (of the Thames)," he said during the Mystic store's "soft" opening. "But in order to reach it, you have to be on this side. … We're excited to be in Mystic."
Mallove, 50, whose grandparents Morris and Goldie Mallove started the business in 1919 and whose father, former New London Mayor Harvey Mallove, ran it for decades, said he'd been thinking about opening a Mystic store for more than a year. But it had to be the right location.
"I'm not sure I would have made the move here except for this spot," he said.
Ironically, the Cottrell Street storefront's previous occupant, also a jeweler, moved to State Street in New London, a couple of doors down from the space where Mallove's operated for more than 60 years.
At 1,500 square feet, Mallove's of Mystic, which occupies a portion of The Whaler's Inn, is about half the size of Mallove's Jewelers in the Utopia Centre plaza on Boston Post Road in Waterford. Eight full- and part-time employees staff the new store.
The Waterford store employs 10, seven of whom have each worked for Mallove's for 25 to 35 years, according to Mallove.
The Mystic store, which sports new hardwood floors, specialty lighting, display cases and plush furniture, will be "more about the local people than tourists," Mallove said. Basically, it will serve two markets - "all things diamonds," for which Mallove's is known, and women who buy for themselves.
"We'll have a large selection of pendants, earrings, engagement rings and wedding bands in stock at all times," Mallove said. "And we'll have some lines that have some exclusivity, with items for $25 to $1,000."
In southeastern Connecticut, Mallove's is the exclusive seller of Honora pearls, Judith Ripka (silver) and Belle Étoile (sterling silver and enamel). The store also features Alex and Ani, a line of bangle jewelry a Rhode Island designer fashions from recycled materials.
Mallove, who said his Waterford store has thrived, believes the Mystic location will similarly benefit from customers' familiarity with his name.
"I was blessed to take over a business with a very good name and reputation," he said. "It would be so much harder today without that head start. … One of the things about southeastern Connecticut is that there are still a lot of independent, family-owned businesses and people really support them."
Tricia Cunningham, president of the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce, called Mallove's "a terrific addition" to downtown Mystic.
"They have a great reputation," she said. "There's been some new life in the area, with a new gift shop, Puffins, diagonally across (East Main Street) from Mallove's, and Rochelle's, Shades of Mystic and Posh in a building down Cottrell Street."
In addition, Cunningham noted, the Liberty Pole, a landmark at the intersection of East Main and Holmes streets, has just been reinstalled.