CHURN: POOR CAT CURLS UP ON BROAD STREET

A display in the window of the newly opened Poor Cat Designs. (Photo by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)

By REBECCA DESFOSSE

Rcsm2_010508The story of Poor Cat Designs begins with a soggy kitten Joe Romanowksi found sitting on his doorstep in the rain on the eve of his sister’s death about five years ago.

Unable to find the cat’s owner, Romanowski decided to keep him, naming him Felix. Every morning as he left for work, the cat would look at him sadly, and Romanowski would tell him, “You poor cat.”

During that time, Romanowski was developing a new jewelry line. Suddenly, he tells redbankgreen, a light bulb went off in his head, telling him to name the line “Poor Cat,” in homage to both his sister and his adopted feline.

Now, Poor Cat has found a home in Red Bank.

Other recent additions to Broad Street include Boardwalk Burgers, above, and Lacrosse Unlimited. (Click to enlarge)

After some 40 years in business – he who also owns the Goldtinker jewelery stores in Rumson and Deal – Romanowski opened his first freestanding Poor Cat Designs store Sunday at 65 Broad Street in Red Bank. That’s a storefront where for a year, former occupant Nevada Exchange had been promising to install a successor business.

While the place is fairly spartan at the moment, Romanowski claims the new store will have a fun, inviting vibe that will draw people in to just check out the pieces in a museum-like setting.

The Poor Cat Designs line is sold in eight stores up and down the East Coast, from Florida to Canada. But in contrast to his Goldtinker stores, Romanowski says Poor Cat will be targeted at a young crowd and will have the affordable prices to prove it, and offer accessories and activewear in addition to jewelry.

Inspired by Bauhaus and Tiffany designer Jean Schlumberger, Romanowski describes his designs for the Poor Cat line as “simple, but having a dimension that gives it a kind of sophisticated quality.” He likes the pieces to have “thickness and substance,” he said. But the line is constantly evolving, he said – from simple charms to the recent inclusion of intricate diamond work. Romanowski is proud to say that the line is completely American made – mostly, in fact, right in Deal.

Romanowski says he plans to open up multiple Poor Cat Designs stores in the future, but figured Red Bank was “a good place to start.

“I think we have a place in Red Bank,” he said.

IN OTHER CHURNINGS:

Boardwalk Burgers has finally opened, at 20 Broad.

Lacrosse Unlimited, a sporting goods retailer whose specialty is given away by its name, opened last month at 58 Broad, in the space formerly held down by Hip & Humble Home furnishings.

Action painter David Banegas has painted himself out of the downtown picture, vacating space he’d rented at 43 Broad for just a year.

Barely nine months after its opening, the Ice jewelry store at 12 Monmouth Street was closed for business last Friday, with a ‘for rent’ sign in the window.

The nightclub Fixx, on West Front Street, is for sale, with an asking price of $2.4 million. That includes the liquor license and approvals to replace the building with a combo restaurant and sports bar topped by two luxury apartments, according to a commercial listing by Stafford Smith Realty.