Burdeen’s Jewelry has opened its fourth location in Chicago with the addition of a showroom selling luxury pre-owned watches alongside estate jewelry and a Vacheron Constantin boutique.
The store joins Burdeen’s vast multibrand showroom in Buffalo Grove, to the north of the city; adjacent monobrand stores for IWC, Panerai and A. Lange & Sohne within the downtown Waldorf Astoria hotel complex; and B. Young & Co., also downtown, which sells more niche brands like B.R.M. and Dietrich as well as Ulysse Nardin and pre-owned.
Burdeen’s CEO Matt Burdeen tells WATCHPRO in our Big Interview for July that the new Vacheron Constantin and pre-owned boutique was made possible because he snapped up space on Chicago’s prestigious North Michigan Avenue — between Omega and Bulgari boutiques — after riots in the city made retail space more affordable.
Ironically, Burdeen’s earned that slice of fortune after all of its downtown stores had been looted.
“We have two locations downtown including one called B. Young & Company and our boutiques at the Waldorf. Both locations were looted twice. Everything valuable was in vaults, so we did not lose much as far as merchandise goes, but all of the beautiful furniture was destroyed; cigarettes were ground out on our carpets; people were just walking in and kicking stuff over to break the glass. It was very demoralizing for it to happen twice,” Mr Burdeen recalls.
Tourneau’s Rolex boutique, also on North Michigan Avenue, was also attacked during the riots.
In the aftermath, Mr Burdeen followed the advice of Chicago’s most famous son, President Barak Obama, and turned the crisis into an opportunity.
“After the first riots was when I signed the lease for our new store. Everybody was talking about Chicago being over and the world ending, but I thought that was a good time to make a sharp deal, which we did. We had to grab that opportunity because it is very difficult in a major city like Chicago to make a profit because of the sky high rents,” Mr Burdeen reveals.
“We are resilient. Chicago is resilient, America is resilient and everything is going to come back. This is a spectacular, beautiful city. We have had a bad rap with the violence and the politics that has been going on, but it is a great destination,” he adds.
Last year’s turmoil also created the opportunity for Burdeen’s to work with Studio K Creative, a Chicago design house responsible for iconic interiors like the city’s Nobu Hotel, to oversee the project. “They were delighted to get the job with us even though they would not normally take on projects this small. The capital expenditure for the new store, which is 2,200 square feet, is the same per square foot as we spent on our other Richemont boutiques, so it is really spectacular. We are about twice the size of the Bulgari store to one side of us, and about 50% bigger than the Omega boutique to the other side,” Mr Burdeen explains.
“The idea of the design is to give it a sort of speakeasy feel with a long artistic gallery that goes into a back room where we have a beautiful table in front of an open fireplace. We will have hundreds of pre-owned watches there and we will specialize in estate jewelry, which is not something Chicago has from any other retailer right now. Vacheron Constantin will be the sole new watch brand at the store,” he describes.