446 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
In downtown Saratoga Springs, N.Y., you’re as likely to run into seasonal residents from downstate as students from Skidmore College or tech wizards from nearby AMD. This eclectic upstate town is home to Silverado Jewelry Gallery, which has become a destination for those looking for earthy, yet fine, handmade pieces from such designers as Suzanne Kalan, Chan Luu, and “local” Shana Lee (who’s based in Hudson, N.Y.), to name a few. Silverado is set apart not just by the aesthetics of the space—custom pine and glass cases lit from within, gleaming maple floors, and exposed brick that could rival even the trendiest SoHo boutique—but by what emanates from within. “We are ambassadors of Saratoga,” smiles owner Robyn Olivares—a post she and her staff take to heart.
Taking a Leap
Olivares was a New York sales rep for Trek Bicycle when one of her sisters opened a jewelry store in Oregon. “For two years prior to opening Silverado [in 2003], I knew Saratoga was growing. I would come downtown and look at all the available spaces within the three blocks I wanted to be. I would sit on a bench and watch: Which is the sunny side of the street? Where are people shopping?” Olivares says. Daughter Whitney Dechene, who is a buyer and integral part of the business, dared her to open the store by saying she didn’t think Olivares was serious. Soon, the right space opened up—on the sunny side of the street.
A Family Affair
The original Silverado staff included Olivares’ two high-school-age kids, Whitney and her brother, Andy (who has since moved on). “Whitney has the best taste,” she gushes. “She can create the most beautiful display in five minutes—something that would take me an hour!” Olivares’ husband, David, is also involved. He came up with the idea for “dressing rooms” on the sales floor: oval vanities equipped with hooks for coats and bags—set apart from the traffic flow—where shoppers can try on jewelry comfortably. In his capacity as trade-show talent scout, David is also responsible for persuading Olivares to stock pieces from Seattle-based Jamie Joseph, who has proven to be Silverado’s best seller: “It was the end of the day [at the ENK show], and I was tired. David said we weren’t leaving until I wrote the order,” she recalls. “And I thank him every day.”
Happy Staff = Happy Clients
Olivares provides the same cared-for experience to her employees that she offers her customers. Her staff has a distinct camaraderie, which creates a kind of atmosphere that’s all too rare in retail. “We’re always trying to keep everything happy,” she says. “If someone’s having a bad day, it’s our job to ‘flip’ them. We had a guy who was irritated about buying an engagement ring. We worked with him, and he said, ‘Wow, that was fun. You really made that okay.’ When he left, we said, ‘We finally flipped him!’ We made him happy.”
Photographs by Julie Bidwell