If you’ve been to San Francisco, chances are you’ve passed the Shreve Building. Located at 200 Post St., a block away from Union Square, the 110-year-old building is a vestige of an era when the city welcomed hordes of fortune-seekers looking to strike it rich in California.
Up until August of this year, Shreve & Co., which moved into the base of the building a month before the 1906 quake, was its principal tenant. But the city’s rapacious real estate scene being what it is, the jeweler was told on March 31 that it would have to vacate the premises—Harry Winston had negotiated a better deal and would soon be moving in.
A lesser jeweler might have taken the news as a sign to call it quits, but Shreve & Co. has used the forced move as an opportunity to turn a heap of lemons into some mighty delicious lemonade—or so I learned last week, when I flew to San Francisco for a Sept. 30 dinner cohosted by Shreve & Co. co-owner Lane Schiffman and Larry Pettinelli, president of Patek Philippe USA.
“We’ve had a little transition this year, you might have noticed,” Schiffman told a room full of about 80 people, most of them important Patek Philippe clients, who’d gathered at the Golden Gate Club in San Francisco’s Presidio to be feted amid a selection of Patek novelties introduced at this year’s Baselworld show.
Schiffman used the occasion of the dinner to announce that in mid-2016, Shreve & Co. will leave the transitional space it has occupied since August for much more luxurious digs at 150 Post St.
“We’ve got a 12,000-square-foot facility on the sunny side of the side of the street,” he said. “We hope to build the most luxurious and beautiful place to enjoy the finest jewelers and watchmakers on the planet. My family is excited to make this investment into our future for the next 60 years.”
Nearly three times as large as Shreve’s historic space, the new flagship location will operate across two floors plus a basement, allowing the retailer to add an event space, a service department, and expanded areas for both Rolex and Patek Philippe (the latter has partnered with Shreve & Co. since 1887!).
A rendering of Shreve & Co.’s new retail flagship location at 200 Post St. due to open mid-2016
“The layout will be much more functional,” Schiffman tells JCK. “The old space had some quirks. It wasn’t the most efficient place to do business. It was built during a different era. And as times have changed, there’s wasn’t so much you could do. So we’ve tried to design now from the ground up. We want to build it so it’s a very engaging, warm environment that clients would feel very comfortable in.”
Shreve held the biggest event in its history this past summer to make sure clients “knew we’re not closing, we’re just moving,” Schiffman says. “We did something there to try to reward them, have that engagement, tell them we’re just going to be down the street. So after today, we’re going to craft some emails and send some communications out to our clientele so they have their own personal glimpse into what we’re going to do in the future.”
Gump’s, another iconic San Francisco retailer, had to deal with a similar change of address in 1994, when it was forced out of its 100-year-old location and moved a block away, where it continues to thrive—proof that on the list of factors affecting a retail business, location is a distant second to reputation.
“I think the power of those two iconic names in San Francisco, it almost doesn’t matter where they move to, as long as they have the same mentality of taking care of their customers,” Pettinelli says. “I think they’re going to be fine. They’ve been with us through good times and bad times, and we’re going to be with them.”
Check out JCK’s upcoming November issue for more on Shreve & Co., along with nine other jewelers, profiled in our series on “America’s oldest jewelers.”
(Image courtesy of Shreve & Co.)