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THE BIG INTERVIEW: Introducing startup retailer Goldsmith & Complications

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Samir Shah, Ian Happ and Danny Goldsmith.

WATCHPRO usually tells the stories of the biggest retailers through our Big Interview articles, but this month we are learning about a brand new business at the very beginning of its journey. Danny Goldsmith’s entire career has been in the luxury jewelry and watch business, most recently at the prestigious Cellini in New York where he was mentored by Leon Adams. But a desire to leave the Manhattan rat race coupled with a burning desire to start his own company took him to Delray Beach in Florida, where he just opened a boutique lounge specializing in rare independent watchmakers with the help of publicity from Chicago Cubs switch hitter Ian Happ and support from Berd Vay’e managing director Samir Shah.

WATCHPRO: We rarely devote out Big Interview to a brand new start-up business, but I am intrigued by your story and the people behind it so we want to share it and hopefully follow your progress for years to come. But let’s start at the beginning, how did the two of you meet and end up working together?

Samir Shah: Our paths might have crossed several times over the years since both our families are in the diamond and jewelry business. But Danny and I met actually first met when he started at Cellini as part of their sale team. Between Arnold & Son and Berd Bay’e, we really hit it off and came to discover that our days worked very closely together before we were even born.

From my perspective it was great to see somebody in the industry like Danny who has so much enthusiasm for brands like Arnold & Son, Purnell, Urwerk, Angelus; whatever it might be, Danny always had a passion.

He and I would always talk at work and socially about watches and so, when he made the decision to move down to Florida and start a business, he reached out to see if there was a way we could work together on the new project.

Since I am president of Berd Vay’e, and he has a love of the brand, I thought there was an opportunity to do something special for the launch of Goldsmith and Complications.

Danny was concerned it might take years to get something moving, as it does with watch brands sometimes, but we were able to bring in Ian Happ [Chicago Cubs’ record-breaking switch hitter] and between the three of us come up with a special piece in time for the opening of Danny’s showroom.

WATCHPRO: Samir, you appear to wear a number of hats. According to your profile, you are vice-president of your family’s Manart Fine Jewelry, director of Arnold & Son USA, managing director of Graham USA and president of Berd Vay’e.

Samir Shah: The role with Graham ended a few years’ ago. On the watch side I currently work with Arnold & Son, Angelus and Cyrus. Berd Vay’e came about in 2018 when some mutual friends introduced me to the founders and there was a great fit there. It has been fun to help launch the brand and establish it with key retailers.

WATCHPRO: And Danny, you have been described as “Mr Watches” when you were working at Cellini in New York City. Tell me about your time there and how it inspired you to strike out on your own?

 

Danny Goldsmith: Before I worked at Cellini, I was working in the wholesale business for about 15 years. I was traveling all the time and missing my family and wanted to settle in one place to be with my wife and son. I had known Leon [Adams] since high school. My sister was a gemologist there and my parents have sold to Cellini since the 1970s.

Leon offered me a job in 2017. I had never done retail before so I wasn’t sure, but I knew that I wanted to be based close to my family. Being a watch fanatic, it looked like a great opportunity.

After I got there, and for the first year and a half, Leon had me out the back doing inventory and buying, which gave me a greater appreciation for a lot more brands that I did not know much about or didn’t like. In early 2019 I was put on the sales floor and was never allowed into the back room again.

Even though our families have had links for decades, Samir and I met in 2018 and hit it off. There are not many times in our lifetime, particularly as we get older, to meet somebody and click right off the bat. I became immediately excited by Berd Vay’e and the watch brands he represented, but it was more than that, we have the same work ethic and thought processes.

Here we are three years later, having decided to open up my own boutique here in Florida, and Samir is a great supporter of what I am doing.

WATCHPRO: What made you look at Florida when you started thinking about opening your own boutique?

Danny Goldsmith: New York has obviously been changed by the pandemic, and I wanted a better and healthier lifestyle for my family. The time felt right and Florida felt right so I decided to go for it.

I approached Samir and said that I wanted to do something fun and I wanted Berd Vay’e to be part of the opening. In 2019, when I started thinking about this move, it was only Samir that I discussed it with.

I was thinking about all the brands he represents, but I believed that Berd Vay’e would be perfect for what I wanted to achieve because of the price point and the huge range of people that might be interested in buying a piece of horological art.

Then we tied in Ian Happ, who is a good friend of mine and plays outfield for the Chicago Cubs. His taste in watches is wise beyond his years. I said to him that I was opening this boutique, that I wanted him to be a part of it and he should meet my buddy Samir.

The three of us sat down and came up with the idea of creating a Berd Vay’e baseball bat and making it the same size as one of those souvenir bats you bought as a child at the game. We thought it would be a great fit for the opening of the Goldsmith & Complications boutique.

In addition to having vintage watch components in the Berd Vay’e bat, Ian Happ also helped us to get shards of an original baseball bat to use in the sculptures as well. We have made it as a limited edition of 30 pieces, and now we have actually had them delivered I can tell you it is absolutely perfect.

Samir Shah: Everything at Berd Vay’e is a passion project. We source all of the vintage watch parts and clean them up before including them in a sculpture.

That attention to detail and history was another side of things that seemed perfect for the opening of Goldsmith and Complications because of Danny’s love of horological history and his vision for the future of the boutique.

It has all worked out perfectly and we know that sports fans and watch enthusiasts are going to be really excited about it.

WATCHPRO: The unique Berd Vay’e bats have been created for the opening of Goldsmith & Complications in Delray Beach, FL, this month. What can you tell me about the store as we sit today just ahead of that ribbon-cutting?

Danny Goldsmith: The concept is that the boutique is more like a lounge than a typical retail store. We will do pre-owned and we are also an authorized dealer for several brands including Arnold & Son, Cyrus, Berd Vay’e, Angelus, Urwerk, Belll & Ross, J.N. Shapiro and some others.

We are really focusing on independents, including brands that are not yet in the US so that we can cultivate it. I am a big fan of these brands and I cannot wait to get the word out.

We are on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, which is a part of the city that is on fire right now. I came here in 2019, right before the pandemic with my family, and I remember walking out of this restaurant called Rocco Tacos and looking to the left and right and a light bulb came on in my head.

Remember, I have lived in New York for my entire life. My wife comes from Vermont and has always wanted to leave the city.

We thought about California for a little bit, and I have always loved the idea of moving there, but most of our family are here on the east coast. Maybe our third or fourth Goldsmith & Complications store can be in California.

When the pandemic hit, and with New York being at the epicenter, we put the idea of moving on the back burner and kept our heads down. But I soon discovered that the watch community was just as energetic and were looking at everything they could on social media.

That gave me an extra boost to look again at plans and start trying to make things happen. It was not easy. I quickly realized that finding a home, finding a retail spot, starting a new business during a pandemic were a little out of my wheelhouse.

WATCHPRO: So, the idea of setting up your own boutique in Florida is not something that came to you as a result of the pandemic, it was something you had been thinking about before that?

Danny Goldsmith: That’s right. It seemed daunting before the pandemic, and we did slow down when covid hit, but my wife and I kept coming back to it and it started to dawn on us we could actually make it happen.

It was never going to be easy to pick up a family and move them 1,200 miles to a place we had never lived in into a house that we had never seen. But somehow it just felt right. The only time I flew in was to sign the lease on the retail space.

WATCHPRO: Tell me about Atlantic Avenue. Is that a prime retail spot in the heart of Delray Beach?

Danny Goldsmith: Yes, just a quarter of a mile away from the ocean. Delray Beach is one of the top five destinations in the country. It is on fire. Money is flooding in, there are all these trendy restaurants opening.

Where I am there is a strip of bars, restaurants and high end boutiques. It attracts all different ages and walks of life. It is wonderful. Two blocks away they are building a $200 million complex for high end living that opens in November. They are building so much that it makes me think I got in at just the right time.

WATCHPRO: How much space do you have? How big is the lounge/boutique?

Danny Goldsmith: That question makes me laugh because I was never somebody that could picture square feet so I thought I probably needed 5,000 to 10,000 feet. What I actually have is 1,700 square feet and a bit of extra space in a shared area.

When you walk in there will be vitrines in front of you and a nice kitchen to the side. Then you get into the lounge where there will be a bar, nice couches and a television. It is going to be elegant and stunning. My taste is a little bit flashy with colors.

I figure if I am going to be selling watches priced between two thousand and half a million dollars, it has to look the part.

There is nobody else doing what I am going to do in the area. I have friends an hour away who sell watches, but I am in my own pocket where there really isn’t any competition. Delray Beach is in a beautiful spot between Boca and West Palm Beach where there really isn’t any other watch activity.

WATCHPRO: Is the showroom at street level or is it more like AP or Material Good where you have to go up an elevator or stairs to reach it?

Danny Goldsmith: It is on the second floor with a hot trendy wine and cheese bar below me. When you walk into that bar, there is a private elevator to come up to my boutique or you can walk up the stairs.

The reason I did it this way is not that I want to exclude anybody. Everybody is welcome and I don’t want to be visited only by appointment, but I do want it to feel like an exclusive experience. I want to be the destination for watches to anybody visiting or living in Delray Beach.

WATCHPRO: I have been writing for the past year or so about how hot low volume artisan independent watchmakers have become, particularly during the pandemic, so I guess people will seek you out for the rare watches you hope to be stocking?

Danny Goldsmith: I have seen that rise of the independents in New York. I remember Leon and I met Tim and Bart Gronefeld and I was so excited to meet them, it was like they were sports stars to us.

I remember saying to Leon that we had to the Principia as well as the Remontoire. When you see something like that, it just talks to you. We started taking delivery in April 2019 and I must have sold about 50 Gronefelds in a year.

One of the great things about working with these independents, and it is the same for Samir’s brands, is that you want the people behind them to succeed. You want people to enjoy and appreciate their watches.

That is so rewarding and that will be our focus. There are quite a few brands I am talking to right now, some of which are not even in the US yet. I would like to add a few more to the nine or ten brands I am an AD for already.

WATCHPRO: This sort of operation could require a lot of cash up front, particularly if you are buying stock. How are you managing that?

Danny Goldsmith: I will own 80% of the company but I do have four partners — one is a family member, another a good friend who wanted to be part of it, and two financial backers. I have put my life savings into it.

WATCHPRO: How do you intend to present pre-owned watches, new watches, art and other collectibles in your boutique?

Danny Goldsmith: I am going to have watches in vitrines near the couches and show pieces on the walls. I am going to have a strap bar for Jean Rousseau so people can customize their watches. I am going to heavily invest in Berd Vay’e.

But for the main part it will be presentations of independent watch brands alongside a few larger brands like Bell & Ross and Zenith.

WATCHPRO: What did Leon Adams say when you told him about your plans?

Danny Goldsmith: He was very supportive. He wasn’t ready to let me go, but the way New York was at the time and that I wanted a better life for my family made him understand. He has told me he will be there for me if I ever need him.

I like to think he is proud of me and I can’t wait to go back and see him again in New York.

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