Salassi Fine Jewelry & Gifts moves to new location in Antiques Village

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 7.35.15 PMNovember 2017: Owners’ confidence in resurgence of the district inspires their investment in its future

By Helen Turner

Renée and Stuart Salassi first brought their business, Salassi Fine Jewelry & Gifts, to the Denham Springs Antiques Village over four years ago and have never regretted it. Their business thrived in the southern end of the district near the railroad tracks, the section of the Village that didn’t flood in August 2016 – but they were front row witnesses to the devastation visited upon many of their neighboring businesses just steps away in the northern section which has a lower elevation.

Weeks later when it became known that some of the flooded businesses would not be returning, Renée and Stuart recognized there was an opportunity for them to rescue a property and rebuild it and help the historic shopping district recover from the catastrophe.

One such property was the building which had housed Louisiana Purchase, located at the southwest corner of Range Ave. and Centerville St. They had been passing the building with its “for sale” sign each day and knew it was badly damaged, but did not realize the extent of the destruction until they eventually arranged to go look inside.

They knew it would be a massive “gut-and-rebuild” project, but Stuart, a long-time real estate “flipper” and broker knew he could cut cost by contracting the project himself, including but not limited to, design and constructing much of it with his crew. So they made an offer to the owner which, a bit to their surprise, was accepted.

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 7.35.28 PM“Since Range Ave. is a one-way street, it is the first structure visitors see coming into the Antiques Village, and our vision was to make it become an example of how the tax credits can help others turn around older historic buildings in need of rehab, and to create a really unique and beautiful building that we would be proud of and love coming to work in,” he explained.

“It was in shambles,” Stuart stated. “But until then I had not realized how large the space was – 6,000 square feet – and that it was actually divided into three separate spaces. We could see the potential and started thinking about the possibility of moving our jewelry business there which would give us two potential rental units and a truly unbelievable corner location for ourselves.” Stuart continued to explain, “The Exposure here is priceless.”

Although already in the midst of a huge construction project on the LSU lakes and the renovation of a flooded house on River Road in Denham Springs which they purchased to make a home for themselves, they started on plans for the new project.

“We wanted to bring the building back better than ever, yet in keeping with its original historic style,” Stuart explained, a move which quali ed the project for historic preservation tax credits.

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 7.35.38 PMHe added, “The new store has a different look, with an enhanced décor that includes cypress beams. Everything is new, from the roof to floors, ceiling, trim, and display cases. The Building has high 12’ft ceilings and exposed St. Louis brick. It immediately reminded me of the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was quite a feat and a lot of work, but it was worth it.”

At press time, the building’s renovation was near completion, and Renée and Stuart were set to move their business around mid-November into the largest of the three spaces, at the very corner, at 239 N. Range Ave. The other two spaces have been leased and will also soon be occupied; one will be Natasha Marie Bridal, and the other will be a second location of Addiction Boutique whose original clothing store is near Bass Pro Shops.

“We wanted to bring the building back better than ever, yet in keeping with its original historic style,” Stuart explained, a move which quali ed the project for historic preservation tax credits.”

Stuart Salassi, owner

The shop which Salassi Jewelry is vacating at 111 N. Range Ave. has been leased by The Restored Home, a business which builds and refinishes furniture and also will sell high-end antique furniture.

Renée and Stuart heard concerns expressed by many who questioned the wisdom of purchasing, much less moving their successful business into a building that ooded – but that doesn’t worry them.

“What happened last year was a freak of nature; it was called a 1,000-year flood,” Stuart said. “We realize there is always a possibility it could happen again, but that’s why we have flood insurance.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-06 at 7.35.49 PMSalassi Jewelry will now be specializing more in diamonds and upper end jewelry including other gems and wedding rings in the near future. They will continue to offer various levels of jewelry at other price points as well, so the store will continue to offer something for everyone. A line of gifts will also still be available, while offering a larger inventory of jewelry.

“We believe there is no better location down- town or even elsewhere in Denham Springs, and we are unbelievably thrilled to relocate our jewelry store there before the holidays and to have the two other businesses joining us,” said Stuart. “Our store will be open seven days week with extended hours through Christmas.

“Renée and I believe in and love this antiques district, and we love Denham Springs. We have other long terms goals for ourselves and our businesses, and we are open to possibly acquiring other properties here.”

Details: Salassi Fine Jewelry & Gifts, 239 Range Ave., Denham Springs, LA 70726. 225-271-8641. Website: salassijewelry.com; Facebook: Salassi Jewelry & Fine Gifts