SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

January 18, 2014

Auctioneer buys downtown Beverly buildings

Casa de Moda to remain, new retail business planned

BY PAUL LEIGHTON
STAFF WRITER

---- — BEVERLY — Auctioneer Frank Kaminski has purchased the two buildings that house Casa de Moda, but the downtown’s signature store is not going anywhere.

Kaminski said Casa de Moda will move into one of the buildings and remain open for business, while he will open a yet-to-be-determined retail business in the other building.

Kaminski purchased one of the buildings from Casa de Moda owners Don and Jan Preston for $800,000 on Dec. 16. He said he has an agreement to buy the other building for $425,000.

Jan Preston, who opened Casa de Moda with her husband in 1969, said the store will consolidate into one of the buildings and remain open “for the foreseeable future.”

“Casa de Moda is still in business,” Preston said. “We’ll still be there.”

Kaminski said he plans to open some type of retail operation in the building being vacated by Casa de Moda. He mentioned an art gallery, an antique co-op, and home furnishings as possible options.

“This is a whole different enterprise for me,” he said. “I haven’t made any decisions, but we want to do what’s best for the community.”

Casa de Moda has been a fixture in the downtown since the Prestons opened the store at the corner of Cabot and Pond streets when they were in their early 20s. It sells an eclectic mix of jewelry, accessories, toys and games, home decor items, gifts, cards and stationery, among other items.

Jan Preston said the store has closed out its dance wear department and donated the items to a dance academy in Haiti. It will no longer sell seasonal Halloween items, but otherwise will remain mostly the same, only smaller.

“We’re excited,” she said. “Things change over the years.”

Jan Preston said the downsizing will enable Don to devote more time to his role as president of Habitat for Humanity of the North Shore. The store will still be open six days a week, but Jan Preston said she will also have more free time.

Kaminski opened his auction business in Beverly in 1996. He has a main office at 564 Cabot St. in North Beverly and an auction gallery at 117 Elliott St., as well as locations in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and San Diego.

Kaminski said he decided to buy the Casa de Moda buildings because he wants to become involved in the revitalization of the downtown.

“Main Streets wants to change the whole look of the downtown, and this gives me an opportunity to be a part of the change,” he said.

Beverly Main Streets Executive Director Gin Wallace said she is “thrilled” that Casa de Moda is staying in business. She said the store is an “anchor” of the downtown, thanks to the indispensable personalities and community involvement of the Prestons.

“They’ve not only been a business that everybody loves, but Jan and Don themselves are people you love to be around because of what they mean to the community,” Wallace said. “They call their customers by name, the people who work there know who you are. To me it’s always been more than a store.”

Wallace said the Prestons have found the “right partner” in Kaminski. She said his plans, whatever they might be, will align with Main Streets’ plan to launch a downtown arts district this year.

Kaminski said he will maintain the character of the buildings, which are more than 100 years old. He said there are plans to paint a mural on the back side of the building, adding to the mural that was painted on the Pond Street side last summer.

“They have a lot of charm, these buildings,” he said. “I’ll maintain the integrity of that.”

Kaminski said he will also continue to rent out the apartments on the upper floors of the buildings.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or pleighton@salemnews.com.