Artisans who renovate handbags are moving


CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — The headline in The New York Times sounded like a plaintive plea: “Who will fix their Birkins now?

The answer: It’s still Artbag, Manhattan’s venerable haute couture women’s handbag restorer since the early 1930s. But as of last week, Donald and Chris Moore’s father-son team are now plying their trade. highly qualified in Coral Springs, the new home of their company.

The 90-year-old institution has become the latest of the New York-area businesses to relocate to South Florida. But the company is an anomaly in the conga line of COVID-era companies that have migrated south in large numbers since 2020. Most are financial and tech companies with a sprinkling of restaurants.

The Moores are small business owners who are lifelong craftsmen with a client list that spans generations of affluent women, including celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane Sawyer and Cicely Tyson.

Coral Springs has no data reflecting the relocation of businesses from New York to the city of West Broward, said Kristi J. Bartlett, director of economic development. But she said: ‘It happens quite often because of our favorable tax climate and low cost of doing business compared to the North East.

Chris Moore, who now runs the business and operates it with his wife, Estelle, started working with his father when he was 6 years old.

Although the business was unique, the reasons for the move were not that the rent and other costs of doing business had reached intolerable levels.

Donald Moore, now 80, said he was happy with the move despite spending his entire career in New York.

“I think it was a very good decision,” he said. “No. 1, customers know us. We do a lot of mail order. That’s a big difference. It’s not what you do. It’s what you can save. In New York, you don’t can save anything.

Chris Moore said the company was saving $26,000 a month on rent by moving to South Florida. Keeping a close eye on costs, he avoided the higher-rent enclaves of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale when scouting.

“If I had to do that, it wouldn’t have been cost-effective for the store and the family,” he said. “There’s a certain freedom in not having to worry about paying that kind of rent every first of the month.”

Moore says he moved to Coral Springs for its suburban surroundings and its location midway between Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. In addition, the rent is much lower than in the city centers of large cities.

“Coral Springs, Weston, Parkland, those three places, we felt the same,” Moore said. “But Coral Springs, when we crossed, was more like home than the other two.”

The move included moving leather and equipment including sewing machines, a drill press, rotary tools for carving, cutting, engraving, sharpening and cleaning, and a trimming machine that cuts or shaves the edges of the strips of material.

Three veteran Artbag artisans have chosen to stay in New York and are available for projects. Smaller works are underway in Coral Springs.

“When customers from Florida found out we were coming here, they were thrilled,” Moore said.

Generations of customers

Since the early 1930s, women have trusted Artbag craftsmen to refurbish their high-end bags – many by Hermès, Chanel, Cartier and Louis Vuitton – for restoration and rehabilitation.

The company was founded in 1932 by Hillel Tenenbaum, a former professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, according to the company’s website.

Louis Rosenberg, son-in-law and business partner, was a tinsmith “who brought his knowledge of metals and the art of quality to Artbag” and was considered the “king of quality control”.

Donald Moore was a protege of Tenenbaum and purchased the business in 1993. A native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, he began his career in the boutique in 1959. working alongside Tenenbaum for more than 20 years, learning model making and the construction of handbags.

Chris Moore started making bags at a young age, drawing on his father’s expertise. His father persuaded him to come aboard full time after graduating from Pace University in New York.

These days, Chris runs the business with the help of his wife while his father works on newly arrived jobs as the Coral Springs operation ramps up.

When asked if he would work full time, Donald Moore replied: “Absolutely not! I’m doing him a favor right now.

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