The Trenton Blog

3 Small Businesses with 20+ Years in Downtown Trenton

February 19, 2024

Henry’s Jewelers, R. Giaquinto Shoe Repair and Bits N’ Pieces Share a Rare Milestone

What do a jeweler, a cobbler and a custom embroiderer have in common? They are among the 33.2 million small businesses in this country, which make up a majority of all businesses in the U.S. Here in downtown Trenton, NJ, these three businesses—Henry’s Jewelers, R. Giaquinto Shoe Repair and Bits N’ Pieces Uniform Shop—have something else in common, something quite uncommon. They have all been in business for more than 20 years.  

While a majority of small businesses never even make it to their 10-year milestone anniversary, a number have survived in downtown Trenton for several decades. The list also includes Po-Po Chinese restaurant, Beauty World, and the Robert Lewis Store. It’s an important reminder that even as so many businesses come and go, not only in TDA’s Special Improvement District but also in downtowns across the country, resilience, vision, quality service and good old-fashioned hard work still matter.

Those who stay in downtown Trenton frequently convey a sense of pride—for carrying on family businesses, supporting a city they love, serving their long-standing customers, and being part of a tight-knit community.

Shoe Repair Shop in Trenton NJ

“I love what I do, and this street (South Warren) is great,” says Robert Giaquinto, who has been running a family-owned and operated shoe repair business for several decades. "I still have a copy of the lease when my father signed with the department store to operate a shoe repair business in 1945.”

While the business moved a few times over the years, R. Giaquinto Shoe Repair has remained a fixture in downtown Trenton. “Most of the other business owners on the block know I am handicapped. They make sure my walk is shoveled when it snows. When there was a power outage a couple of years ago, they brought me a really good flashlight,” he says. 

It is a passion for his craft and the camaraderie and support in downtown Trenton that keep the 62-year-old going, though he has reduced his hours to 8 am to 3 pm, and is now closed on Mondays. In recent months, his shoe repair shop at 115 South Warren Street got a facelift, thanks to funding from the TDA Facade Improvement Grant fund. He hopes you stop in to say “hello” and, of course, to drop off a pair of shoes, a belt or a handbag for repair. “If it can be repaired, I can do it,” he says. 

Henry’s Jewelers is also known for quality repair work, as well as its extensive collection of stunning rings, bracelets, earrings, charms, necklaces and more, at its Capital Center location at 50 East State Street in downtown Trenton for more than 22 years. The store is famous for its vast selection of well-priced items from classic to trendy, but most of all for providing excellent customer service. 

The store’s knowledgeable staff takes time to work with customers to choose the perfect pieces, including beautiful diamond engagement rings from a quarter carat to a full carat. 

Personalized service is the cornerstone of any successful small business. It may be the number one reason to shop local in the age of e-commerce, big box stores and shopping malls. Businesses like Henry’s Jewelers and R. Giaquinto rely on long-standing, loyal, return customers to sustain them, especially during difficult times like the COVID-19 pandemic and fluctuations in market demands. 

Bits N' Pieces uniform store understands this all too well. It wasn’t that long ago that local hospitals purchased nursing uniforms at small shops like Bits N’ Pieces on East State Street. So many hospitals today are part of large healthcare systems with massive national buying power. 

Shirts hanging in Bits N Pieces Uniform Service - Trenton NJ

Fortunately, area parents who need school uniforms for their kids know that Bits N’ Pieces is a true local gem with state-of-the-art equipment and a large inventory of branded apparel. The store is located in a historic building at 104 East State Street in downtown Trenton. Large orders from local charter and private schools have helped owner Masood Dawood keep his business running for more than a decade, though there are struggles. 

“I have been here since 2003,” he says. “It’s a great location halfway between New York and Philadelphia. Trenton is a historic city with some beautiful buildings. My shop is located in the original City Hall. Soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War are buried in the nearby cemetery. This is where it all began.”

He loves to share historical facts about Trenton with his customers, and enjoys when people stop in. But he also recognizes that in today’s market, he has to provide the most convenient way possible for customers to view and order merchandise, which is why he is also launching a website this spring.

“The dream of a thriving downtown, with a variety of shops and restaurants and other establishments, lives in our hearts and continues to drive the passions of so many entrepreneurs,” adds Bryan Evans, Chair of Trenton Downtown Association. “We are excited to see several new businesses opening in our district this year. It’s up to all of us to support them over the long run.”

“Trenton Is a historic city with some beautiful buildings … This is where it all began.”  
—Masood Dawood, Owner of Bits N’ Pieces


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