Keeping a business family-run for six generations is an impressive feat, and Bromberg & Co. has done just that. It’s the oldest family-owned-and-operated retailer in the country. It’s one year older, in fact, than Tiffany & Co. Bromberg’s — with its two Birmingham storefronts — is now one of Alabama’s top destinations for all things luxury, from top-of-the-line diamond jewelry and timepieces to giftware and wedding gifts. The Mountain Brook shop recently celebrated its 60th birthday, but the Bromberg’s history goes back much further than 60 years. How did Bromberg’s become a top purveyor of luxury in the South, and how has it withstood the test of 184 years in business? Take a diamond-studded walk with us through the storied history of Bromberg’s.
FROM BROMBERG, PRUSSIA TO BROMBERG & CO.
Bromberg’s was founded in 1836 by Frederick Bromberg, who immigrated to the United States from Prussia in 1832, searching for opportunity in a lustrious America. Young Frederick worked as a silversmith in New York City, and soon after marrying his love, Lisette Cunigarde Dorothea Beetz, he moved to the up-and-coming city of Mobile, AL. Anne Yoder, Bromberg’s marketing manager, tells us more of the story: “The couple sailed from New York on a packet boat called the Lewis Cass and set up shop soon after arriving, selling fine musical instruments and sheet music, and soon after added jewelry and other gifts to the store’s offerings.”
But the company’s start was anything but smooth. In 1839, Mobile was struck with both a massive fire that destroyed the original Bromberg’s building and a yellow fever epidemic that infected Frederick’s wife. Despite these early setbacks, Bromberg’s persevered all the way through the Civil War until the founder’s grandson, Frederick W. Bromberg, moved the company to booming Birmingham, AL, in 1890, where it’s been headquartered ever since.
WEATHERING 184 YEARS OF STORMS
Bromberg’s has triumphed through nearly two centuries of physical, economic and global tribulations. “It’s true that over our 184 years in business, Bromberg’s has weathered many storms,” Anne says. In fact, just one year after opening, the company survived a major financial panic only to suffer a devastating fire a couple of years later that forced them to move to a second location in Mobile. “Perseverance has seen us through many wars, recessions, depressions and pandemics from Cholera to the Spanish Flu to the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Anne says.
Bromberg’s President, Ricky Bromberg, attributes a big part of Bromberg’s success to its people. Many employees have been with the company for decades, which has helped create lasting relationships in the community. Ricky says, “We change with the times. But I also think some things are timeless. Certainly, the products we carry within our classifications have evolved over time. I think that’s where we stick with our mission to be luxurious.” With so much experience shifting with the times to fit the needs of the customers, Bromberg’s will emerge from this current storm with the radiance of the diamonds it sells.
THE BEST AND NO LESS
From the first generation to the sixth, each iteration of Bromberg’s has strived for the very highest standards of quality, beauty, customer service, business practices and ethics. “Because of these core principles, we’re lucky to be able to carry some of the most prestigious brands available,” Anne says. And Bromberg’s isn’t only winning the most sought-after brands and lines. The company has won many jewelry and retail industry awards over the years, including being named a top-five finalist for America’s Retail Champion Award a few years ago. Anne adds, “But more than that, we are proud to be the oldest family-owned-and-operated retailer in the United States, and we are proud of the relationships we have built with our customers.” Bromberg’s pieces have trickled down through the branches of some of Alabama’s oldest family trees, and young adults across the state know who to call on when it’s time to pick out an engagement ring, their first Rolex or their first China pattern.
CULTIVATING A DEVOTED FOLLOWING
One of the most special things about a multi-generation family business is its multi-generation customer base.”We are very lucky to have generations of families that have shopped with us and continue to do so. Because of these connections, there is a higher level of trust, which we take great pride in maintaining,” Anne says. “We love meeting new brides-to-be who come in to register for their weddings, just as their mothers and grandmothers have done before them. It is always nice to hear from our customers about how Bromberg’s has become a part of their family tradition over the years.”
More than 184 years of building trust and community have fortified Bromberg’s as a trusted destination for the most sentimental purchases. “We have the best customers, and we value our relationships with them,” Anne says.
Discover more about Bromberg’s online here. They are currently open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Mountain Brook (call (205) 871-3276) and 10 a.m to 6 p.m. at The Summit (call (205) 969-1776).
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