SOMERVILLE, NJ - 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.
Complete with colored ribbon, oversized shears, grinning politicians and proud retailers, the wave of Grand Openings commemorate the new businesses, specialty stores, boutiques and restaurants that continue to reconfigure the downtown landscape from Grove Street to Doughty Street.
But the Aug. 7 Grand Opening of the Stickley Audi Furniture Store at 130 West Main Street is being looked upon as more than just another new store opening.
This is the big one - in more ways than one.
There’s a level of prestige and sophistication, 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 former Mayor Brian 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.
Located on the southeast corner of West Main Street and Davenport Street, the 13,000 square-foot space was formally occupied by the venerable Lloyd’s Furniture Store, in business for 67 years in Somerville.
The store has been undergoing an extended “soft opening” since it first opened its doors after July 4th.
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.
“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,” Stickley Chairman and CEO Aminy 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 Phillipines, 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.”
Former owners Lloyd Silverman, now 97 and his son Jeff, who ran Lloyd’s and other businesses that were an offshoot of the original Lloyd’s have been invited to the 5:30 p.m. Grand Opening by Mark Aziz, general manager.
Also expected to attend are the owners of Stickley Audi, vendors, local officials and merchants. The public is also invited. A reception and refreshments will follow the ribbon cutting, according to Aziz.
“I wanted to end our business on a very high note which we did,” said Jeff Silverman.”I wanted to bring in an upscale, fine caliber store to continue our legacy. We are proud to turn the store over to these people. They are very excited about opening their store in Somerville. They love the building.”
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.
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.
Aziz is already looking to move to Somerville as soon as his lease in New Brunswick runs outFurther information is available by callin (908) 947-0471.