SOMERVILLE, NJ - Aminy Audi, the owner, CEO and matriarch of the iconic Stickley Audi Furniture brand, stood outside their newest acquisition at the corner of Davenport and Main streets Tuesday night, enjoying the moment, surrounded by a crowd of 50 or more well wishers who had come to be a part of the ribbon cutting and opening celebration for their new store.
Accompanied by her son, Edward,with store manager Mark Aziz close by, she took the time to speak to the community and her new neighbors, realizing that the moment was as special to her and the extended Stickley Audi family as it was to the elected officials, merchants and others who had gathered outside the store at 130 W. Main St.
She spoke of the vision of those who are succeeding in branding the borough as Somerset County’s Downtown; she praised the building owners, landlords and merchants who increasingly epitomize the strong sense of community that serves as the foundation of a strong local economy.
She thanked the town for its warm welcome, and left no doubt that the Stickley Audi family is anxious to become an integral part of the downtown community and contribute to the ongoing resurgence in the downtown district.
“The vitality is truly amazing,” she said, leaving no doubt that this location, their third store in New Jersey, will endeavor to attract customers from throughout Somerset County and beyond, generating spillover traffic and business throughout downtown.
Lastly, she turned and spoke directly to the family that had sold the store to Stickley Audi in April, 97-year-old Lloyd Silverman, the founder of Lloyd’s Furniture which had occupied the space since 1950, and his son Jeff Silverman, who started work at the store in 1954 when he was six-years-old, sweeping the floors every Saturday.
“We have a big pair of shoes to fill,” Audi said.
“They’ve done a beautiful job, the younger Silverman said once inside the 13,000 square-foot showroom, standing with his wife Ghislaine greeting friends and former customers.
His father shook hands and reminisced with former Mayor Brian Gallagher and others.
“Oh, this is just wonderful, it really looks great,” he said.
Grand Openings on Main Street have been the norm the past several years as the borough’s resurgence as "Somerset County’s Downtown" continues to unfold.
The Stickley Audi opening raised the bar with a high degree of prestige and sophistication and recognition from a national retailer that the town and the surrounding community will come through the door and contribute to its success, according to Borough Councilman RanD Pitts, a longtime downtown merchant and owner of the Evolve clothing store, one block east of the new furniture store.
Stickley Audi’s presence also affirms the vision of a vibrant, eclectic downtown shared by Gallagher and other elected officials, longtime merchants like Pitts and Rick St. Pierre, owner of Verve Restaurant and Bistro and president of the Downtown Somerville Alliance merchants association.
The store had been undergoing an extended “soft opening” since it first opened its doors after July 4th.
“We are very excited about the acquisition of a building that is steeped in history and is well recognized as the home of Lloyd’s Furniture,” Audi said at the time of the sale in April.
Neighbors across the street include The Edge Luxury Apartments, a Starbuck’s and the highly-acclaimed Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, with other locations in New York City, Hawaii, Beverly Hills, Tokyo, the Philippines, Korea and Miami.
“What they bring to the table is out-of-town clients and marketing, all of which helps my store,” Pitts said. “It says something that Somerville is at that level where we are pulling in that kind of business.”
The distinctive lines of Stickley Audi furniture are based on the simplistic, utilitarian designs of the Stickley brothers who began manufacturing furniture in 1903 in upstate New York, helping to give rise to the Craftsmen movement that shaped American industrial artistry for several decades,extending to lighting, pottery, metalware, tiles and other household items. It enjoyed a revival in the 1980s, with Barbra Streisand purchasing an original Stickley sideboard for $363,000.
The Audi family purchased the failing furniture company in 1974 and today employs 1.600 people.
The Somerville store is the 17th store in the group and third in New Jersey; other New Jersey locations are in Paramus and East Hanover. Stickley Audi furniture, all made in America, is also sold by 125 distributors.
Aziz, who has been in the retail furniture business for 25 years, joined Stickley Audi a few months ago. He is also responsible for running the Stickley Audi store in the Chelsea section of Manhattan and expects to commute between the two locations.
Aziz says it was love at first sight when he came to Somerville.
“The sense of community is unparalled,” he said. “It’s the kind of place where you want to spend as much time as you can.”
“Somerville is a very vibrant community and is a perfect fit for Stickley, Audi & Co.,” Audi said.
“Somerville is as much as we were expecting it to be, the residents, the merchants, everyone has been so nice, that’s the biggest takeaway,” Aziz added.
The store is open seven days a week from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with the exception of Sunday, noon- 5 p.m. and extended hours until 8 p.m. Friday.
Further information is available by calling (908) 947-0471.