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Originally published Friday, November 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Retail Report

Carroll's spawns new jewelry store on Fourth Avenue

Retail Report: Former manager at Carroll's Fine Jewelry opens a store across the street inside the Fourth and Pike Building.

Seattle Times business reporters

Inside downtown Seattle's Fourth and Pike Building, Lisa Esztergalyos sells one-of-a-kind rings, necklaces, earrings and brooches from a tiny rectangular shop decorated to resemble a Venetian jewelry box.

"So this is it," Esztergalyos (pronounced Ester-gal-ee-ohs) says proudly, standing amid bronze-colored walls and matching brocade drapes that contrast with the hustle and bustle outside. Visitors are urged to take a seat on one of three antique upholstered chairs and help themselves to home-baked cookies.

Esztergalyos, 39, was manager of Carroll's Fine Jewelry in the Joshua Green Building across the street when the Carroll family decided to close the 113-year-old store last spring.

A major renovation of the Joshua Green Building prompted the closure, and the family chose not to reopen elsewhere.

"When my husband and I found out Carroll's would be closing, he said, 'Well, what other jewelry store would you like to work for?' " Esztergalyos recalls. "I was spoiled at Carroll's. I thought, 'I don't want to work for anyone else.' The relationships I had with all my co-workers — it's been a transition to not have them around. But every week I get visits from the ladies, so that's been great."

Her namesake Lisa Esztergalyos Jeweler store takes up all of 100 square feet previously occupied by a perfume shop in the Fourth and Pike Building's first-floor lobby. Jewelry-related businesses occupy many of the building's offices in a part of downtown known as the Diamond District.

Esztergalyos, who has seen the economy go from bad to worse since opening May 1, said she resisted the temptation to make the store "look just so" with more merchandise than could be sold in a tough environment. And fortunately, she says, she does other things besides sell jewelry.

"I'm doing a lot of maintenance and restoration work on customers' heirlooms. I see more of that than actual purchasing of new jewelry," says Esztergalyos, whose credentials include graduate gemologist, through the Gemological Institute of America, and certified gemologist appraiser from the American Gem Society. (She also has a bachelor's in art history from the University of Washington.)

Glass display cases feature an eclectic selection of jewelry with prices ranging from $45 for a sterling-silver bracelet charm to $5,250 for a brown zircon ring. "I figure I'm in a great position, because I love what I do, and I'm happy to be here," she says.

Some of her customers from Carroll's have followed her to the new store. Nancy Kazanjian, who lived in downtown Seattle before moving to California in 2007, became a fan when Esztergalyos helped her buy an "exceptional" brooch at Carroll's several years ago.

"I think Lisa will be a jeweler I'll depend on for the rest of my life," Kazanjian says. "My greatest concern for her is she doesn't have the fancy shop that Carroll's had.

"The shop is petite, but it's not symbolic of all that she's capable of," Kazanjian adds. "I know she can compete."

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— Amy Martinez

Tidbits

Half Price Pots has closed its five Seattle-area stores, according to its Web site. Founded in 2002, Half Price Pots sold ceramic, earthenware and terra cotta pots mainly from Asia. No word on why the stores closed. Efforts to reach founder John Spurrier were unsuccessful. AM

Three Skagit Valley apple farmers have formed Skagit Fresh Natural Beverage to sell drinks made from their apples. Sparkling juices with no added sugar are rolling out now in Whole Foods, Haggen, Top Food & Drug and Metropolitan Markets in Western Washington.

Made with Jonagold apples, the juice flavors are Bodacious Blueberry, Big Bad Blackberry, Sassy Strawberry and Ramblin' Raspberry. They retail for about $1.79 per 12-ounce glass bottle and $6.49 for a four-pack. The three founding farmers are Alan Merritt of Merritt Apples, Richard Sakuma of Sakuma Brothers Farms and Jim Perkins of Perkins Variety Apples. — MA

Fremont Wine Warehouse recently opened at 3601 Fremont Ave. N. It is managed by Michael Cawdrey, who said he's pleased to be back three years after the closure of the Fremont Red Apple Market and Wine Bar, which he owned. All wines are under $25, he said, and there will be daily tastings. — MA

Top Food & Drug in Olympia will complete a multimillion-dollar renovation next week with a celebration Nov. 12. The store at 1313 Cooper Point Road opened in 1987.

Improvements include a "meals to go" section, expanded salad bar and wine department and an olive bar. A new cheese shop offers more than 300 imported and domestic cheeses, and a new cooking station with daily demonstrations and tastings. The store is part of Bellingham-based Haggen, which operates 33 supermarkets in Washington and Oregon. — MA

Seattle-based Amazon.com introduced a new effort this week to make packages easier to open. Called "Frustration-Free Packaging," it's launching in the U.S. with 19 top sellers from such manufacturers as Fisher-Price, Mattel and Microsoft. The Internet retailer initially is taking aim at hard plastic cases known as "clamshells" and plastic-coated wire ties that hold items in place. The project expands to Amazon's international sites next year. AM

Retail Report appears Fridays. Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or mallison@seattletimes.com. Amy Martinez covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-464-2923 or amartinez@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Retail Report
Retail Report is a look at the trends, issues and people who makeup the dynamic and versatile retail sector throughout the Puget Sound region. Every Friday with Melissa Allison and Amy Martinez. Send tips or comments to mallison@seattletimes.com or amartinez@seattletimes.com.

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