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Farewell, Manhattan. Artisans who refurbish high-end handbags move to South Florida

David Lyons, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Fashion Daily News

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. — The New York Times headline sounded like a plaintive plea: “Who Will Repair Their Birkins Now?”

The answer: It’s still Artbag, the venerable Manhattan re-furbisher of women’s high fashion handbags since the early 1930s. But as of last week, the father-son team of Donald and Chris Moore are now plying their highly skilled trade in Coral Springs, their company’s new home.

The 90-year-old institution has become the latest of New York-area businesses to relocate to South Florida. But the business is an anomaly in the conga line of COVID-era companies that have migrated south in large numbers since 2020. Most have been financial and technology firms with a sprinkling of restaurants.

The Moores are small business owners who are lifelong craftsmen with a customer list that spans generations of well-to-do women including celebrities such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Diane Sawyer and Cicely Tyson.

Coral Springs has no data that reflects businesses relocating from New York to the West Broward city, said Kristi J. Bartlett, the economic development director. But she said: “It does happen quite often due to our favorable tax climate and the low cost of doing business compared to the Northeast.”

Chris Moore, who now heads the business and operates it with his wife, Estelle, started working with his father at 6 years old.

 

While the business is unique, the reasons for moving were not: The rent and other costs of doing business had risen to intolerable levels.

Donald Moore, now 80, said he’s happy with the move despite spending the entirety of his career in New York.

“I think it was a very good move,” he said. “No. 1, the customers know us. We do a lot of mail order. That’s a big difference. It’s not what you make. it’s what you can save. In New York you can’t save anything.”

Chris Moore said the business is saving $26,000 a month alone on rent by moving to South Florida. Keeping a close eye on costs, he eschewed the higher rent enclaves of Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard when scouting locations.

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