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Historic J.E. Caldwell Philadelphia store to close

By Anthony DeMarco, JCK Senior Editor
Posted on March 31, 2003
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The J.E. Caldwell & Co. Jewelers store in Philadelphia, which has been in business since 1839, will close this summer.

A company official cited a dwindling customer base that was unable to support the retail operation housed in 1339 Chestnut St. sales for several years, a changing neighborhood, and a store too large to operate.

"Our customer base has been moving more and more to our (six) suburban locations," Peter Bruck, Carlyle & Co. marketing manager, which owns J.E. Caldwell, told JCK. "It's just become very difficult to support the size of the store."

The company has been a Chestnut Street institution since its first location opened in 1839 at 163 Chestnut St. It later moved to two other Chestnut Street locations before its 87-year run at in the Widener Building across from Philadelphia's City Hall. The company's founder, James Emott Caldwell, a watchmaker from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., first did business in Philadelphia in 1805.

The Caldwell stores, in addition to jewelry, also sells timepieces, silver, china, and crystal.

The store, which boasts 17 French-cut crystal chandeliers hanging from 20-ft.-high ceilings, has an interior designed by Philadelphia architect Horace Trumbauer in the French Regency style.

Bruck said there is possibility that the company will open a smaller venue in Philadelphia but no commitment has been made. "That is a desire," he says. "We are searching."

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