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Amid Westgate Mall redevelopment, longstanding jewelry store finds new home in Bethlehem | Eat, Sip, Shop

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A destination for rings, necklaces and other fine jewelry at the Westgate Mall has found a new space to shine amid the Bethlehem shopping center’s ongoing redevelopment.

Westgate Jewelers, a fixture at the Schoenersville Road shopping center for decades, will hold a soft reopening on Tuesday at its new location at 53 E. Lehigh St. in Bethlehem, owner Laurel DiFelice said. 

The store’s new location will be on the upper level of the United Steelworkers of America building, between Bethlehem City Hall and Nisky Hill Cemetery.

The property, just off Center Street, houses offices and meeting rooms for various businesses and organizations, including the United Steelworkers Local 2599, Bethlehem Firefighters Local 725 and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 200.

There’s also a social hall, accommodating 200 guests, that can be rented for private events.

Westgate Jewelers

Westgate Jewelers, which previously operated at the Westgate Mall in Bethlehem for decades, will hold a soft reopening on Tuesday at its new location at 53 E. Lehigh St. in Bethlehem. The store’s new location will be inside the United Steelworkers of America building, between Bethlehem City Hall and Nisky Hill Cemetery.

DiFelice was attracted to the downtown location due to the area’s historic architecture and close-knit community.

She’s planning a grand reopening celebration, featuring promotions for Mother’s Day, graduations and wedding season, for the entire month of May.

“Since we are in the historic district of Bethlehem, we are embracing the community,” she said. “We’re also offering items to our customers that are not found in other jewelry stores. For example, we have a diamond that is cut in the shape of the Bethlehem star.”

Westgate Jewelers carries new jewelry from more than a dozen unique and prominent designers along with a wide assortment of estate jewelry from around the world. The business also offers custom jewelry and watch and jewlery repair.

“We specialize in fine estate jewelry, gold and silver,” DiFelice said. “We have a lot of pieces made in the USA as well as outside of the country. Our estate jewelry is from all over the world and from many different periods of history, going back to the late 1800s.”

Another unique aspect of the business is its “personal touch,” where customers can make an appointment to create a diamond engagement ring or other specialty piece such as an anniversary bracelet or a pendant necklace in memory of a loved one, DiFelice said.

“We can also repurpose jewelry or refurbish family members’ jewelry,” DiFelice said. “So, customers can make an appointment, sit down with me and have a personal jeweler to design what they want.”

Westgate Jewelers has become known for its multi-week sidewalk sales, usually held three times a year and featuring thousands of steeply discounted pieces, including many priced at $1.

Due to the store’s move, the schedule for this year’s sidewalk sales will be different, but a normal schedule is expected to resume in 2024.

“This year, we will have a bit of an altered schedule because it takes a long time to prepare for those sales, and my foremost attention right now is getting the new store in order,” DiFelice said.

In conjunction with the business’ move, DiFelice enlisted the talents of an emerging graphic artist and a Freedom High School student, Naomy Quiroz, to create the logo and designs that will be incorporated into the store’s signage, business cards and forthcoming website.

“She’s new to the scene, and her talents are amazing,” DiFelice said of Quiroz.

Westgate Jewelers’ new location will feature two entrances: a handicap-accessible entrance near the flagpole and another entrance near the western portion of the upper parking lot. 

The move will bring with it other changes, including a larger selection of jewelry designed by DiFelice and a new retail website (debuting within the next few months), where customers can shop the business’ full line of merchandise.

“I appreciate all of the kindness that the community and my customers have extended to me during this transition,” DiFelice said. “I’m truly grateful for everyone’s support.”

Westgate Mall

Westgate Mall in Bethlehem

Westgate Jewelers is among a handful of former Westgate Mall businesses that have either found new homes or shuttered amid the shopping center’s redevelopment.

The jewelry store and other affected businesses, including Holiday Hair, Fashion Nails, Hawk Music, Amateur Athlete and Subway, received notifications a few months ago to vacate their spaces from mall owner Onyx Equities, which is planning to raze about 50,000 square feet of the shopping center’s interior in order to construct about 8,000 square feet of new retail structures.

Salon chain Holiday Hair was the first to leave, merging with a nearby location about three miles away in the Pointe North shopping center, 5510 Crawford Drive, Hanover Township, Northampton County, in late January.

The chain’s Westgate outpost had been operation at the mall since the 1970s.

“All of our stylists went to Pointe North,” manager Sue Repsher said. “It’s really sad because we were one of the first businesses in Westgate. And it’s the people who live in this immediate area who I really feel sorry for. A lot of them drive here to get their hair done and then they go grocery shopping. When I tell them that there’s another salon six minutes away, they say, ‘I can’t drive that far!'”

Cuong Nguyen, owner of nail salon Fashion Nails, purchased Nail Trix in South Whitehall Township and is continuing business at the 1536 N. Cedar Crest Blvd. site as of late February.

“We can’t thank you enough for the endless support at Fashion Nails over the past 9 years,” a message on the business’ Facebook page reads. “We are so fortunate to have developed relationships with so many people, not only as our clients but as our friends. We hope that you will continue to support us at our new location, which is about 11 mins west on [Route] 22.”

Hawk Music, which had been operating at the mall since its opening in 1973, closed on March 31.

The store offered sales of drums, guitars and other musical instruments along with instrument rentals and repairs.

Pat Paulus and her brother, Phil Hawk, operated the music business that their late father, Bill Hawk, started 50 years ago.

“On behalf of my sister and I, our amazing staff, current and past, we want to thank all our customers who supported us the past 50 years,” Phil wrote on the business’ website. “We’re going to miss the shop very much. But we’re hopeful the business will continue under new management, at a new spot in the next month or two.”

Amateur Athlete, a popular retailer selling skateboards, longboards, casual wear, swimwear, shoes and accessories like sunglasses, is planning to reopen 4 p.m. Friday, April 14, at its new space in Bethlehem’s Lehigh Shopping Center, 2110 W. Union Blvd., the business announced on its social media pages.

The retail shop, established in 1982, is bringing back its $20 shoe section at the new location. Reopening promotions will include a $10 clothing section and complimentary pizza (5 p.m. Friday).

Amateur Athlete owner Joseph Yoo labeled the transitional period of the past few months as “a confusing time,” but he’s been consoled by the warm wishes from supportive customers.

“Thank you to everyone who has stopped in to show love!” a social media post reads. “We can’t wait for what we got in the works!”

Sandwich shop chain Subway, which closed Friday, is the mall’s most recent former tenant.

Franchisee Nick Ferrani is looking to nail down a new location for the eatery nearby.

“We’re trying to move to a new site as close to the mall as possible,” Ferrani said.

Onyx Equities, a New Jersey real estate investment and property services firm, purchased Westgate in 2018, with several rounds of renovations taking place over the ensuing years.

The latest phases of redevelopment include the demolition of part of the mall’s interior and the construction of two new structures: a freestanding bank with a drive-thru (next to relocated Weis Markets) and a strip mall that will be home to Jersey Mike’s Subs, QDOBA Mexican Eats and Starbucks restaurants along with a yet-to-be-announced retailer. A drive-thru is planned for the Starbucks.

One of the center’s biggest changes occurred in 2021, when Weis moved from its 32,000-square-foot store near the middle of the center to a remodeled, 63,000-square-foot store in part of the former Bon-Ton department store at the north end of the shopping center.

Other recent changes include Lehigh Valley Health Network opening a 27,000-square-foot medical equipment processing facility at the back of the former Bon-Ton; California-based tools and hardware chain Harbor Freight Tools opening in part of the former Weis space (neighboring space is yet to be leased); and an Oak Street Health primary care medical facility planning to open in a portion of the former Rite Aid space at the south end of the center.

Additionally, a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store is operating out of a temporary location next to Amateur Athlete while its original location is being expanded near the south end of the center.

Other planned additions include an international quick-service hamburger chain at the northern end of the center (in front of Weis) and a financial institution at the site of the former Dempsey’s restaurant at the south end of the center.

Built in 1973, Westgate Mall has been home to many businesses over the years, including prominent former tenants like Art & Drafting Connection, Beef House, Bookarama, Candy Carousel, Hourglass Hallmark, McCrory and Toy Tunnel.

More than a dozen businesses continue to operate at the mall, including Country Rose Florist, Grand China Buffet & Grill, Johnny’s Bagels & Deli, Outlooks for Hair and Panda Cleaners, among others.