VALPARAISO | About 18 months ago, Martin Binder Jewelers staff was looking at new lines to bring into its downtown store when they realized the difficult truth: It had nowhere to put the new lines.
President Robert Flude said the store at the corner of Lincolnway and Franklin Street has served his family and its customers well for seven decades.
Leaving the location was not an easy decision to make.
"We looked at the options downtown," Flude said. "It's an old building, and it takes quite a bit of work. When I started here 25 years ago, we redid the second and third floors."
It was decided the best option was to buy the former Focus Financial Center building on U.S. 30 next to Applebee's and remodel it. In addition to being able to have modern, energy efficient utilities, it will provide a more central location for customers coming from Lake and LaPorte counties and as far away as Chicago.
The biggest asset of the new building, along with its 77 parking spaces, will be the 9,000 square feet of interior space compared to the 3,000 square feet of the current store.
"We will be able to display the merchandise properly," Flude said. "We have a lot of new designers coming in, and we will be able to separate them better. We will have museum-style display cases with LED lighting, and we can show transparencies of the companies with the displays."
Flude said several designers in gold and silver items will be added, including Armenta, and the store will expand its watches, including a separate shop-in-shop for Rolex. The area for manufacturing and repairing jewelry will be four times what is now available.
"We will be able to offer services we are not able to now, such as casting in exotic metals, and we will be able to create our own computer assisted design jewelry. We will be more flexible with stones, and we can show the customers what it will look like ahead of time.
"We are taking a real good idea of my grandparents and expanding on it. ... It's cool that I've been around long enough to see this."
The one-story building will have six display islands, each with its own focus, VIP rooms for private showings, a "man cave" where men can watch TV while their wives shop, and a kids' room.
Flude is waiting for final approval of the building plans from the state so the remodeling can begin. He said the display cases and the vault are ordered, and the goal is to open in November.
The fate of the downtown building, which the family also owns, is something that will be decided later.
"We want something that will be in keeping with the downtown and have the same character we've been able to offer," Flude said.