- November 29, 2017
St. Armands Circle will be a bit less shiny come the middle of April.
Longtime St. Armands business McCarver & Moser Jewelers recently announced it would close there after 40 years.
Co-owner Roland Moser said the store most likely will close around Easter, though an exact date is not set.
Over time, Moser said the clientele of St. Armands Circle has changed, which was a big reason he and co-owner Nati Shabat decided to focus on their Main Street location in downtown Sarasota.
“It’s more and more restaurant-oriented,” he said. “People are coming in just to eat and creating a lot of traffic, and a lot of our customers do not like fighting the traffic of coming to shop, so it created some problems there, I believe.”
St. Armands Circle Executive Director Diana Corrigan is sad to see the jewelers go.
“For me, it’s been an anchor for St. Armands Circle for years and years and years, so it’s like losing a longstanding member of your family that isn’t there anymore,” she said. “I’ve never been here when there hasn’t been McCarver & Moser.”
In addition to a change in clientele, Moser said the rent of their space is increasing.
Two years ago, the second McCarver & Moser location opened at 1301 Main St.
“It’s a little bit more away from the traffic and easier for people to get there, so that’s what appealed to us, and downtown is changing tremendously for the better,” he said.
Those changes, he said, include the condominiums and hotels that are being built. Developments like that can bring potential customers to the area. He said that kind of development isn’t happening near St. Armands anymore, and some of the barrier islands, like Longboat Key, have rental terms that don’t bring as many tourists to the area as they could.
He said a lot of the hotels on Longboat Key have been replaced by condominiums, so there aren’t as many potential customers visiting the area.
And like the changing of St. Armands, the clientele for McCarver & Moser has changed. Customers now look for jewelry that is sometimes different than what the style was when their parents and grandparents shopped.
“It’s been a very big change in our business, like every business,” Moser said. “You have to adapt to the new generation, who many times don’t want the same thing as their parents, so you have to follow what the trend is.”
He said while there are still those customers who want traditional jewelry and engagement rings, the majority of people are looking for easy to wear, everyday pieces. He said the business is getting more fashion oriented.
Nicole Christodoulou, a senior real estate associate with Commodore Realty who has worked with McCarver & Moser’s lease since 2010, said she is currently working with five businesses who are interested in the space.
She said the rent rates depend on where a store is on the Circle and how big it is, but the prices are healthy. In the little more than eight years she’s worked with McCarver & Moser, she has seen rents fluctuate.
She said the types of businesses interested in the soon-to-be vacant space are in the same business as many other tenants on the Circle – retail and dining.
“There’s definitely a lot of dining on the Circle, of course it’s a hot spot for tourists and snowbirds,” she said. “They want to come out and indulge and have delicious food, but I think that the St. Armands Circle Association tries to have a healthy mix of dining, shopping and entertaining.”
Corrigan said she hopes the space is filled with a retailer, and she hasn’t heard from any other high-end retailers that sales are down.
Like McCarver & Moser is now, she wants another anchor to be across from Foxy Lady. Christodoulou shares similar sentiments, as she calls McCarver & Moser’s Circle space prestigious.
“It’s the first thing you see when you drive on and the last thing you see when you drive off,” she said. “We love Mr. Moser, and we’ve enjoyed having him as a tenant, but that’s what happens in the retail world …”