Sept. 23, 2004 Walking through the A.H. Riise mall, it's easy to get lost in the luxury of designer perfumes, jewelry, and clothes. Just when you think youve had all the finery your credit card can take, you happen upon the Crystal Shoppe, five rooms with rainbows of light reflected from pieces of Swarovski and Waterford crystal, the finest china and porcelain, all against a backdrop of rubble-stone walls set in place in the early 1800s. Suddenly, youre shopping again.
It was partly this blend of elements, the marriage of the new and old, that boosted the Crystal Shoppe into a place of retail acclaim. It's one of "Americas Coolest Stores," according to Instore magazine's August 2004 issue.
"Gorgeous and grand," Karen Karch is quoted as saying in Instore. "Loved the arched doorways and the cave-like feel of the rock walls. The crystal chandeliers add a bit of glamour to the warehouse feel." Seventy stores were featured in the magazines third annual contest, and the Crystal Shoppe was selected as one of the top ten.
The Puig family opened the first Crystal Shoppe in 1983. They now have three shops on Main Street, the newest one in A.H. Riise Mall. The Puigs took over that location in June 2002 and spent about seven months renovating the 3,500 square feet of space.
"When remodeling our new store we tried to keep the feeling of the original building, which is rubble-stone walls, wooden-beam high ceilings and the arches that are so significant in St. Thomas," owner Dick Puig said.
"We took that and mixed in wooden cabinetry with glass shelves and products. Its not like every store you see in mainstream America. Our customers feel like this is a very Caribbean store. Our setting is unique," he said.
Puig, his wife Ingrid, and daughter Selwyn run the Crystal Shoppe stores in a very hands-on manner. Selwyn manages the floor and is one of the principal buyers. Im up here in the office more than anybody else. Ingrid is on the floor selling. If necessary we sweep the floor. What you do in a family business is you do it all," Puig said. He said he counts himself lucky to have a loyal staff, many of whom have been with the business for a long time.
Puig says there are three things about the Crystal Shopped that attract customers. First is the product line, featuring high-end crystal, china and porcelain. The store is also the only Lladro flagship store in the Caribbean, carrying limited-edition pieces of the porcelain. Second is the presentation on the handmade cabinetry. And third, the friendly staff to complete the sale.
After 21 years in business, they must be doing something right.
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