Phil Hershkowitz collected an interesting brand of items growing up in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn: Royal Doulton figurines.
“Whenever I did well in school, my mother would reward me with a figurine,” the Roslyn Harbor resident remembers. “So I made a business out of it.”
By the time he graduated from Long Island University with a degree in accounting, and had passed his Certified Public Accountant exam, Hershkowitz had a vast collection of the English ceramic china figurines, and accepted an offer from his grandfather, who owned a building in Bensonhurst, to buy and sell them in one of his storefronts.
That storefront would later lead to Imperial China, a glass and ceramic ware business that Hershkowitz has owned for 40 years, 31 of them alongside his wife Laura.
“We probably have the best selection of giftware in the State of New York, and I don’t say that lightly, because the industry has said it about us,” Hershkowitz said.
Laura Hershkowitz, originally from Great Neck, was a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and had a background as a textile designer when she met Phil at a dance in Brooklyn, and later joined him in his work.
Housed in a snug, three-story, 183-year-old residence at 20 Main St. in Roslyn, Imperial China has been a part of the Roslyn business community for six years, having been stationed beforehand in Rockville Centre once Phil Hershkowitz moved out of Brooklyn.
The first two floors showcases the shop’s stock of cutlery and tableware, with brands like Kate Spade, Baccarat, Versace by Rosenthal, Monique Lhuillier by Royal Doulton, Lalique, Waterford Crystal, Swarovski, Lladro, Cunill America, Michael Aram, Juliska, Jay Strongwater, Bernardaud, L’Objet, Gazelle, Royal Copenhagen, and Christofle listed among their inventory.
Customers will return for generations, according to Laura Hershkowitz.
“We’ve had mothers come in to buy for their daughter’s bridal registry, and then the married daughter will come back decades later for her own daughter’s wedding,” Laura Hershkowitz said.
In recent years, the inventory has expanded to include other household items like bedding, with the third floor containing two bedrooms dressed by Laura Hershkowitz with available linens, an idea that came to them from scouting trips to department stores in Manhattan like Bloomingdale’s.
“There aren’t a lot of stores like this, and the department store doesn’t know how to sell this,” Phil Hershkowitz said. “We have a good feel for what we buy, and you never know what you’ll be selling that day.
Some clients, Phil Hershkowitz says, will even text him pictures of items they like and ask him to track them down. He recalls acquiring products from England without any American distribution for certain patrons.
“Our customers are loyal to us because we’re that kind of a business,” Phil Hershkowitz said. “When they want something, they will get it here because they know that I will either get it for them, will work on getting it for them or will guide them to it, and nobody else really does that.”
Overall, Phil Hershkowitz says, the company is a unique one in its products and the way it serves its clients.
“We cater to good times,” Phil Hershkowitz said. “And our strength is our products.”