With Christmas just a few weeks away and several nieces to shop for, I decided to check out the factory sale at Imperial Pearl in East Providence.
Although I arrived just as the doors were opening, the parking lot was already full. Signs directed the throng to an employee entrance at the rear of the nondescript building. Once inside, I was greeted by an employee and given a clear plastic bag. The fluorescent lights overhead illuminated tables stacked high with necklaces, bracelets, and rings. All around me, women in heavy winter coats crammed into the crowded space. Clots of shoppers gathered at one end of the room, but I resisted the urge to investigate what had them so excited. I was on a mission to find three single-strand pearl necklaces.
Luckily, there were many to choose from, ranging from $25 to $1,500+. I initially chose a few that turned out to be samples. Upon closer inspection, I decided they were too shop-worn to give as gifts and I turned to a slightly more expensive array. According to the newspaper ad and price tags, items at the sale were marked below wholesale prices. I’m not a shopper, so I can’t verify it, but I think I got a decent deal and that’s good enough for me!
I do wish I had been shopping in Providence’s Jewelry District, rather than a suburb. The area just south of downtown was once home to hundreds of jewelry manufacturers who sprang up following the Civil War. Renamed “the Knowledge District” 15+ years ago, the area is now home to the Providence Children’s Museum, Brown University’s Alpert Medical School, and a variety of condominiums carved out of the old factory buildings. While there may still be a few jewelry manufacturers tucked away on Chestnut or Richmond Streets, the vast majority have moved to the south side of the city or to nearby suburbs.
One that remains in the Jewelry District is Domaine Ltd. at 18 Imperial Place. Their outlet, Domaine Designs, offers an ever-changing selection of inexpensive, trendy fashion jewelry. Alas, the Imperial Building in which it is located is not related to the Imperial Pearl company where I bought my nieces’ gifts. It is named after the Imperial Knife Company, at one point the largest hunting and pocket knife manufacturer in the country.
Maybe next year I’ll buy a knife for my nephew.