Manfredi Jewels has been setting sales records every month since re-opening after lock down, its owner Roberto Chiappelloni tells WatchPro.
The business has two luxury watch showrooms in Greenwich, CT, which was one of the earliest cities in the North East to get its non-essential stores back open in mid-May.
Mr Chiappelloni is full of praise for the way Greenwich governor Ned Lamont led the response in March and April with support for businesses that allowed Manfredi to keep its entire staff employed, and then to act quickly to get the economy moving again by allowing stores to reopen on May 20.
“The biggest blessing was that our governor had the wisdom to see that, with the proper precautions, our stores could reopen. That was amazing because trade immediately went back to the level of before the pandemic,” Mr Chiappelloni says in a wide-ranging interview for WatchPro.
His gratitude for the governor’s response is palpable, not least because the early days of the pandemic were so challenging.
In the very early days, Mr Chiappelloni paints a picture of spending time alone in his deserted store on Greenwich Avenue, contemplating what was coming next. “It was very unsettling. It was a bit scary. Everybody was reacting differently. Personally, I only stayed at home for one day during the lock down, but I was very cautious and respectful of other people’s space. I would come in through the back door of my building and walk around in my empty store and try to make sense of it all,” he describes.
Greenwich has been a massive beneficiary of the way New York City, particularly Manhattan, has been hollowed out for more than seven months by a combination of the pandemic and demonstrations. Just a 60 minute commute by train, the seaside city feels like a different planet, particularly since May when it reopened for business.
Manfredi might be benefiting from New York’s ongoing challenges, but Mr Chiappelloni is looking forward to the day when it gets back on its feet. “My God, New York has hardly reopened, what with the pandemic and all the demonstrations, they are tied in knots there. I pray New York gets moving again. I do not want to get into politics, but it is very simple. We are half an hour away from New York, here in Greenwich, and it is a different world. People are smart enough to come in out of the rain. Advice is out there that you need to follow certain guidelines to stay safe, and that is what people are doing.
“We need New York back. We need the restaurants, the theatre, life to return. We cannot live like it is the dark ages. I am not exaggerating. I had a doctor’s appointment in June in New York City. I had some time to kill so I walked from 50th Street to 90th on Madison and it was so depressing that I could not wait to get back on the train to come home,” he describes.