Welcome back to an aBlogtoWatch original series, where we discuss important stores that sell watches all over the world. Each store we profile has an interesting story to tell about where they operate and who they sell to. Whether you buy watches from brick and mortar retailers or prefer to buy watches online, these are the stores that help shape our watch culture around the globe. There is a long list of stores to cover, but if there is a retail location in your favorite city that we simply can’t miss, let us know in the comments below.
Where to buy watches in Newport, Rhode Island?
Back in 1992, while Ray Grenon was in college, he worked for a store called “The Best of Times” in Rochester, NY. They had a case of watches that were $9.99, a case of watches that were $19.99 and so on. Lots of Timex products and Swatch. Their high end was Seiko LaSalle, Bulova and Citizen. Ray reports that it was a fantastic experience which started him on his journey which resulted in opening Grenon’s of Newport in Newport, Rhode Island in 2000.
aBlogtoWatch: What types of watches are popular in your market? What makes Newport a unique place to buy watches?
Grenon’s of Newport: Newport is a great historic town. We have the Guilded Age mansions, the oldest Synagogue in the country, one of the oldest restaurants in the country, a naval base, several great museums, and several important buildings from the Colonial period. Newport is also a huge sailing town as the America’s Cup was held here for a very long time and several other important yachting events still happen here. So of course sailing watches are popular here and with the fascination with history and craftsmanship, many here appreciate the interesting stories behind many of the smaller independent watchmakers.
ABTW: What would you tell watch lovers in other cities that watch lovers in Newport like?
Grenon’s of Newport: Very well educated. They want more than just a name, they want to know the history of the brand and about the craftsmanship that goes into each piece.
ABTW: Do you serve mostly locals or tourists, or is it a good mix? Also, what percentage of your customers would you call “knowledgeable watch collectors?”
Grenon’s of Newport: It really is a good mix. Being a big summer tourist destination we get quite a few tourists but given that we carry some brands that are hard to find, we do business across the country over the phone as well. We do a large jewelry business as well so I would say that about 50% of our customers are “knowledgeable watch collectors.”
ABTW: What is Newport best known for? What do visitors have to do, see, or eat while there?
Grenon’s of Newport: The Guilded Age mansions built for the Vanderbilt, Astor and other well known families. They are spectacular. You can walk on the famous Cliff walk along the water to view the mansions and for lunch have a great lobster roll. Of course there is great seafood here!
ABTW: As a business, do you sponsor or participate in any local events, watch-related or otherwise?
Grenon’s of Newport: There are many, many events here that we participate in. Newport loves to throw a party and there are several charities that benefit. We are proud to have been able to support the local museums, hospitals, cancer research, kids programs and are big supporters of public education. Being a big automobile fan myself, we also like to get involved with all the car shows like the Newport Concours d’Elegance and other local shows.
Our biggest event is at the end of the summer right here in our store. It’s kind of our grand finale of the summer. The last Saturday at the end of the summer we get our vendors to fly in from Switzerland, Italy, Germany and all over to present some special pieces. It’s a great time and we usually do that with a car company as well so we have some spectacular cars parked out front as well. In the past, we have had Lamborghini, Ferrari, McLaren, Bentley and Aston Martin.
ABTW: What are some of the watch brands you are known for carrying? If you could pick a watch brand or model that epitomizes the culture or style of Newport what would it be?
Grenon’s of Newport: Our most popular brands are Alexander Shorokhoff, Schaumburg and Zannetti. These are truly unique brands that offer a lot for the money and are not mass produced. The piece that best represents Newport? The Alexander Shorokhoff Babylonian, a unique piece with cultural influences with many fine details and a strong personality. grenons.com