Much to the dismay of Manayunk residents, Victor Ostroff, owner of A.I. Poland Jewelers announced back in May that he would soon close the doors to his family business.
For Ostroff, the decision was made simply because it seemed like the right time – with no one in his family able to take over, Ostroff knew he had a certain amount of time to get things done correctly.
“I just thought that more things were in place right now that I didn’t want to miss this opportunity,” Ostroff said.
The opportunity to close the 112-year-old business this Sunday means more work than just getting through this weekend – the final day for customers is actually the beginning of a pretty long process.
“Well, the shop is closing but there is still so much more work – it’s not just turning the key and everything disappears.”
For a store that is known for its eclectic interior, Ostroff will soon have to find a place not only for unsold jewelry, but also the collectables and furniture that hold so many memories for him.
“What’s not sold – the showcases, the desk, the antiques that are in here – all that needs to find a new home. So I think that’s my next job, to figure out how to disassemble what is here in the most responsible manner.”
Tom Gordon, a customer of more than 20 years, will miss the store’s atmosphere and doesn’t hold out much hope that a jeweler as unique as A.I. Poland will move into the location at 4347 Main Street.
To Gordon, the shop looks like something from a different time and “has a character that you just don’t see in modern stores.” Despite his sadness about the store’s closing, Gordon has been taking advantage of the sales that come along with it.
Ostroff has priced all of his remaining inventory anywhere between 50 and 75 percent off. This, along with the recent hike in gold prices has kept him pretty busy over the past few weeks. But, Ostroff prides himself on not being the typical salesman, he would much rather inform the customer on what they’re looking at than push merchandise just to clear his shelves. He believes this is one reason he has so many loyal customers.
Loyal customers like Glen Ehly, who has been coming to A.I. Poland for nearly 40 years. He remembers first shopping at A.I. Poland as a young boy and thinks there is something special about commemorating an important event with a piece of jewelry. Ehly and his wife bought their graduation rings there in the 70s and more recently bought graduation gifts here for their children.
“You come in, you get something fixed, you know it’s done right,” Ehly said. “You buy something, you always get a good price. They’ve been here for a lot of years.”
For Ostroff, who has spent nearly his whole life in the store, life beyond A.I. Poland seems to be too far off to even think about. But, he does look forward to the point when he can get a break from the retail business.
“Even when I’m not open, I’m working…there really is a part where I would just like to have a day off where I’m not concerned with what’s happening in Manayunk,” Ostroff said.
But Manayunk is certainly concerned with him – he says that just about every single customer who has come in these past few weeks has had something nice to say about the business. Whether they are thanking him, sharing memories or wondering what will take Poland’s place on Main Street, Ostroff says “the community has really been incredible.”