Going the Distance
Longtime Bedford Village businesses continue to thrive
As the days get shorter at this time of year, our to-do lists get longer, thanks to our holiday shopping, decorating—and even personal styling needs (for all the festive, year-end Bedfordshindigs). No need to travel outside the ‘hood to discover striking choices. These enduring businesses—right in Bedford Village—that have served the community for decades continue to hit high marks.
“In 1913, my grandfather opened his first jewelry store in New York City,” says Allison McReddie, who along with her sister, Liz Klotz, and her dad, Alan Walker, runs the family business. “The first store was on the corner of 38th and Sixth. That’s why the name is Jewel Corner. My family moved to this area in 1971. I went to Pound Ridge Elementary School. My father was commuting to the city. Twenty eight years ago, he found this space in the Arcade Building.” The family already had established roots in the area. “There wasn’t another jewelry store in the village,” McReddie continues. There still isn’t. Alan Walker is 91 years old; he is still waiting on both new and familiar faces. In addition to designing, remounting, and selling fine jewelry, the store also does repairs. “Our story is the relationship we’ve forged with our customers. Our customers are our friends. We’ve made engagement rings for their children and their children’s children. Every single person who walks through the door is important.” Although the village itself has changed, the way Jewel Corner does business hasn’t. “We still do everything the way we always have. We still handwrite our jobs. This is a family business. We’re the same people who have been here since the beginning. Our job is to provide jewelry services people want.” Whether you’re looking to pop the question on New Year’s Eve or stuff something special in a Christmas stocking, Jewel Corner can help you help you find the perfect bauble or design something new.
Carla Bonacci bought the business two and one half years ago after working in the salon for 38 years. The shop opened in 1955. “There were three owners before me; the first owner was Mr. Frank. Then came Chuck Michata, who was known as “the Bedford Streaker” (known for his hair streaking talents, not running through the streets naked). The third owner was Suzanne Gale. I bought the business from her, but Suzanne still works here.” Bonacci says some of the salon’s four stylist staff have been working in the shop 40 years. (There is also a receptionist who doubles as a shampoo girl.) “We have four-generation customers; we do the grandmother, the daughter, the granddaughter, the great-granddaughter,” she says. Stylists stay au courant through continuing their educations. “We’re constantly going to school to learn the latest techniques. We keep up with trends. We’re all organic now.” Although the shop specializes in contemporary hair smoothing treatments like formaldehyde-free Keratin, Balayage, low lights, and highlights, by special request—like for a theme party—they can pull off a beehive or a Jackie O style, or a ‘do worthy of Hepburn’s in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” With the busy holiday season approaching, booking an appointment early is recommended to ensure that your tresses will be party-perfect. The secret to their success, Bonacci says, is they know how to make people comfortable. “We have no airs.”
“My grandfather Gus started the business in 1948,” says Sean Alvarez, speaking of the three-generations-old garden and landscaping operation, Perennial Gardens, located just south of the village green on the Old Post Road. “He started small, selling flowers, plants, and shrubs.” In 1968 Gus’s son, Augie, fresh from the army, joined the business, steadily growing it to include masonry work, snow plowing, and landscaping. In 1990, Augie’s son Sean came onboard, expanding the landscaping division. Today Perennial Gardens is still very much a family-run business specializing in landscape design, site work, excavation, pool construction, irrigation, and fencing; it remains an outstanding garden center with a fresh cut flower service delivering straight to your door. For the holiday season, Perennial Gardens stocks up on fresh cut trees, wreaths, mantel greenery, garlands, and ornaments. “We also sell artificial trees, although people tend to prefer a fresh-cut live one,” Sean says. The secret to Perennial Gardens’ longevity can be summed up by Augie Alvarez who once famously said, “There are no shortcuts.”
GOOD VINTAGE Another mainstay in the village is Siemer’s Wine & Spirits which opened in White Plains in 1933 and relocated to Bedford Village in 1971 when the founder Emil Siemer discovered a compelling storefront in the Hunting Ridge shopping mall.