David Costanzo, owner of 114-year-old Niagara Falls, N.Y., fine jewelry store Yaseen’s Jewelers, is closing his business this month.
But not of his own volition. The 75-year-old jewelry retailer and repairman says he was given just over a month’s notice to either move into a smaller space in the plaza—one that wouldn’t accommodate his equipment and showroom—or vacate the premises entirely.
“One of the tenants who is a personal trainer expressed to the landlord that he wanted more room,” Costanzo says. “The landlord told me a few months back that this might happen, but it was very iffy. Then two days after Christmas, he came in and told me I had until Jan. 31 to leave the space.”
The retailer added that while he appreciated the offer of another space, “that move would cost me $25,000 to $40,000 to set up security and such. I’m not in a position to do that at my age, and the space wouldn’t be big enough anyway.”
Costanzo says he’d had “no intention of retiring,” adding, “I always tell people when they ask when I’ll retire, that I’ll retire when they carry me out in a body bag. Retirement was the furthest thing from my mind. I enjoy what I do, and I love my customers.”
The jeweler started working at the shop as a part-timer when he was in college in 1959. At the time it was owned by the Yaseen family, which had started the business in 1904.
Costanzo bought the shop in 1979 and relocated the business several times before settling into its current spot 39 years ago.
His landlord was curtly apologetic, he says, until catching wind of a Facebook post the jeweler’s daughter, Shari Costanzo Giancola, added on Dec. 29.
An excerpt from the post read, “After 38 years in the same plaza, my father’s store was given a 31-day eviction letter so a newer tenant that’s only been there five years could expand. This is devastating to my dad and our entire family.… I understand expanding your business, but you don’t do it at the expense of hurting another business.”
After seeing the post (which he mentioned to Costanzo), he’s been less friendly, says the retailer.
Costanzo says that above all, he will miss his clientele and the actual work of being a jeweler. “I will miss the people. And I did 90 percent of the repair work and I really enjoy doing that.”
He adds, “My customers were not just customers. They’re friends. I’ve made and worked on so many pieces for the grandchildren of people I made pieces for years ago. They come in and say, ‘You’d better never retire!'”
The jeweler’s not sure what his next steps will be, but shares, “A couple of people locally have reached out with the idea that I come and work for them.… I might do that, we’ll see.