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New Businesses: Glass Artist Opens Shop, New Big Gym

Hewlett clothing shop also opens new elegant gift store.

Artist Rita Riccardi has brought her handmade creations to Woodmere, with the opening of Glass Impressions, a showroom storefront that serves to compliment her longstanding fabrication warehouse in Brooklyn.

Instead of opening her new shop closer to the warehouse or her home in Howard Beach, she decided to go with the Five Towns.

“I always wanted to open a satellite studio where I could get more exposure,” she said. “I have friends around here, so I became familiar with the neighborhood, and I really like it. I think Broadway is the best place to window shop, because there’s always so much traffic. And as far as rent, the price is right.” 

Riccardi started the business over 25 years ago. She began as an airbrush artist, then moved towards sandblasting when she realized it was a similar skill set and how much she loved working with glass. She works with her husband, who does the cutting, polishing and installing, while Riccardi does the etching and decorating.

One of their specialties is creating and restoring stained glass. Right now, she’s in the process of restoring windows in an old church that were damaged in a fire.

Other products include custom-made shower doors, furniture, menorahs, wall hangings, corporate gifts, favors and mirrors in glass or acrylic. One of her high-profile clients is the New York Rangers, which commissioned her to make its awards and plaques. She also created baseball awards for Hewlett High School.

Many of her customers are contractors and designers, but she also gets walk-ins. For those who are not sure exactly what they want, they can look through a catalog or even get a house call, where Riccardi will make suggestions after getting a sense of the customer’s taste.

She took over the location at 1060 Broadway in October, but just as she was getting settled in, she got sidetracked by damage to her home caused by Hurricane Sandy. She said she lost about a month and half, but she is getting back on track now and new business is starting to stream in. She said that she is optimistic about the success of her storefront, because her business is a rarity around here and her products will resonate with Five Towners.

“As far as carved glass, there’s only a handful that are doing that,” she said. “You need an awful lot of equipment to do custom-made products like we offer. There are a lot of beautiful homes here that may need stained glass to be repaired or to add something new that’s special.”

Super-sized gym

Retro Fitness in Hewlett opened on New Year’s Day — perfect timing for people to tackle the age-old New Year’s resolution of getting in shape.

At well over 12,000 square feet, it’s one of the biggest gyms around. The massive space holds the latest workout equipment, a child care center, televisions at every cardio machine, juice bar, a large room for classes and even a movie theater to entertain customers while they’re working out on ellipticals and treadmills.

Only a few weeks in, the gym is already bustling as if it were a long-time favorite of the Five Towns.

“We hit the ground running, because I did a lot of advertising and pre-sales for about three months before we opened,” said manager Dean Mauro. “This franchise is a proven model, and it’s very successful. We have top of the line equipment and provide the best value in the industry.”

Mauro said he chose this location, at 1255 Hewlett Plaza, because he wanted it to be “centered within a nice neighborhood, rather than tucked away in an industrial park or an area that was too commercial.”

Retro Fitness also houses a business within a business, with Nu Glo Skin spa renting a space within the gym. After a good workout, owner Rona Hummel said she hopes customers will want to indulge in one of her many beauty treatments, which includes facials, hair removal, chemical peels, permanent make-up, laser treatments, injectables and more. In the future she may add massages to her list of services. 

“I’m very excited about the opportunity to open up at Retro,” she said about her fledgling business sharing space with a well-established gym chain. “We’re getting men as well as women. The room we have created is really nice. Once you come in and close the door, it’s like a whole different world.”

Gift shop

Rene Shapiro and her partners at Mixology in Hewlett wanted to expand their shop for some time, when fate stepped in with the closing of the Sprint Store, allowing them to take over that space and create Mix Etc.

Rather than use that space to carry more women’s clothing, they turned the adjoining store into an upscale gift shop that carries contemporary throw pillows, candles, vases, lamps, books, picture frames and other home accessories.

“We wanted to bring in something that the neighborhood really needed,” she said. “Since Fortunoff’s went out of business, there hasn’t been an elegant gift shop in the area. It’s a beautiful store, and we carry a little bit of everything, in a wide range of price points.” 

Shapiro credits the expertise of her partner Lisa Edwards, a professional designer, for creating the clean modern look of the store and choosing the right merchandise for it.

The shop, located at 1197 Broadway, has been open since the end of October. Depending on its level of success, Shapiro and her partners would consider launching another Mix Etc in the future. Mixology opened about three years ago and is one of several in New York, including Oceanside, which is the original.

5TResident January 22, 2013 at 12:20 PM
These are the kinds of businesses we need in the 5T - not more sushi and pizza joints.
Rita riccardi January 22, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Thanks! That gives me even more motivation to serve this community.
john February 23, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Great job RITA...keep up the good work

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