June 16, 2006
By ANNIE TASKER, Courant Staff Writer
After 17 years in downtown Hartford, Becker's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry at 44 Pratt St. will close when its lease expires in August. The store will consolidate its services and operations at its LaSalle Road location in West Hartford.
"Frankly, in the past three years, business has been declining," said owner Paul Becker. "Economically, it just doesn't make sense to keep it up."
He said his downtown location today gets 40 percent less business than it did when it opened. "The shopper in Hartford is out on his lunch break," said Becker. "No one comes downtown to shop."
Although the city's downtown building efforts have moved at a considerable pace, the retail shops that many would-be residents expect have yet to materialize. That said, with close to 1,000 units either planned, in development or already open downtown, a new wave of services is expected to follow once the residents arrive, developers have said.
Paul and Risa Becker of West Hartford said they opened their Pratt Street location in 1989 in the hopes other upscale retailers would come to the area. Even though that didn't happen, the couple decided to keep the store open anyway.
"We were really stubborn," said Becker. "But there comes a point when you have to say, `Give up this investment, get a better return.'"
Becker said he will move all of his Pratt Street employees to other areas of the business. "We take the responsibility of providing livelihoods very seriously," he said.
Becker's will hold a store closing sale in July.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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