219 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Williamsburg section of Brooklyn is no stranger to style, serving as home base for chart-topping bands, renowned restaurants, and a major Manhattan view. But among the specialized stores on busy Bedford Avenue, 8-year-old tiny jewelry box Catbird is the must-stop shop for all things bits and baubles. The eclectic space—which tops out at just 220 square feet—carries a unique range of fashion and fine jewelry alongside hand-picked beauty and home goods fit for the fashion-obsessed clientele.
New York State of Mind
Owner Rony Vardi favors local independent designers with particular points of view. New York City–based lines like Lady Grey (Gothic fashion-forward brass and bismuth), Bittersweets NY (handmade, delicate diamond-accented pieces), and Digby & Iona (charms, symbols, and more in gold and silver) give the space a sense of community. Designers often can be seen dropping off orders or samples when in the ’hood.
The in-house Catbird line, featuring best-selling alphabet rings, stud earrings, and stacking bands, makes a big impact at affordable prices. Ranging from $32 to $400, these sweet indulgences are perfect gifts or impulse purchases. Vardi credits her e-commerce site with sparking sales. “Our Web presence is extremely important to our business and the two really work together,” she says. “We have so many people who come in who are already so well-versed in our products.”
A Fine Flow
While Catbird is beloved for its cozy proportions and product-filled nooks and crannies, a recent renovation opened up the show floor for extra breathing room. “We completely changed the layout—it is much less claustrophobic,” Vardi says. “We thought really hard about how to make it work best.” Removing a center island was priority No. 1, while adding a custom-built checkout counter gives associates a spot to easily access customers and answer questions.
(Other) Little Luxuries
The store’s handmade credo goes way beyond metals and stones, extending to beauty products and housewares such as greeting cards, perfumes, lotions, and books. Whether purchasing hand-stamped copper postcards from Princess Fancypants or an airplane-shape silver baby spoon from Flotsam & Jetsam (“We try to offer things that you can’t find everywhere,” says Vardi), Catbird customers appreciate a careful eye toward curation. “Beauty and jewelry are such personal purchases, and we think both are luxury goods,” she says. “They feel very connected to the Catbird experience.” Up next: a foray into scents based on the Tarot Deck candle from Catbird’s eponymous line.
Going to the Chapel
These days, Catbird’s biggest sales come from rustic and vintage-inspired bands and engagement rings by Elisa Solomon, Satomi Kawakita, and Katie Diamond. Polly Wales’ bands with sapphires and rubies directly cast into gold appeal to customers craving one-of-a-kind jewels. Now a mainstay on the Brooklyn scene, Vardi is gratified to see longtime clients getting hitched. “The neighborhood has grown up,” she says. “Being part of people’s weddings is a great joy and honor.”
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