Farewell to a touch of sparkle

After 166 years of trade, our famous Bourke St jewellery store, Kozminsky, has closed its doors.

Founded during the goldrush of 1851 by two Polish gentlemen named Simon and Isidor Kozminsky, the shop dealt in all kinds of precious objects, not just the fine jewellery that it had been known for during its last years.

Kozminsky held several locations around the CBD, including the Block Arcade in Collins St in 1910 to Little Collins St from the 1930s until the late 1970s.

It was during this time that a man named Kurt Albrecht started his employment. He was later to become Kozminsky’s third proprietor. His daughter, Kirsten, worked in the shop from the age of 12 and took over the family business after the death of her father. She is the current owner of Kozminsky.

“I started when I was in school. Not full time, but I’d do holidays. I’d stand behind the counter and pretend like I knew what I was doing, but I really didn’t,” Ms Albrecht said.

During her time at Kozminsky, Ms Albrecht has seen a lot of change throughout the CBD, specifically within the retail sector.

“I’ve seen many businesses come and go. I saw Georges go, that was sad. I really loved Georges, as we all did,” she said.

“I’ve also seen the face of retail change with a lot of the major international brands arrive, as they have.”

Ms Albrecht also noted that she’s seen a lot of Victorian-style buildings demolished. To her, they were a piece of our history and their loss is a sad one.

Many a celebrity has walked through the Kozminsky doors over the years including Cher, Sir Elton John, Tom Selleck and the late Gregory Peck.

Despite having numerous encounters with some of the most recognised names in the world, Ms Albrecht says her fondest memories are of serving the generations of families that have made Kozminsky a part of their traditions.

“Oh gosh, my fondest memories are of the couples who were genuinely, truly in love with each other – when they came in and chose an engagement ring here,” she said.

“And then they came in with their babies and bought something else and then when the babies grew into children, they started buying them gifts for their 18th and 21st birthdays.”

Ms Albrecht said she noticed just how much these families valued Kozminsky during its last days in the middle of last month.

“People keep telling me Kozminsky is part of their family, that they come here because we’re their family jeweller. I always felt that way in my heart but to have it reciprocated is very touching,” she said.

A number of reasons prompted the closure, but it was the sudden death of Ms Albrecht’s husband that made her realise she needed a change.

“We’ve been at this location for 40 years now and our lease is up in May,” she said, “My husband died very suddenly the year before this one and that made me very much reassess what I want to do with my life.”

“I have two sons and two grandchildren in New York, as well as my sons and daughters here. I’d like the opportunity to be a bit freer. A retail store, not as an online store or as anything else – just a retail store – is a 24/7 commitment,” she said.

As for the future of Kozminsky, Ms Albrecht said there might be potential for what she called a “leaner, meaner and tighter” presence.

Since announcing the closure, Ms Albrecht says she’s had many people come forward with ideas on how to continue Kozminsky in the future.

She said right now she was in the discussion phase and may think about an online store or even a smaller, upstairs retail shop.

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