Riddle me this, Batman: What is the opposite of a pop-up store?
If your answer was “mom-and-pop retailers,” you shall live to shop in East Hampton Village for another day.
A recent ad from Manhattan Skyine Management Corporation, heralding retail space in East Hampton on the Circle and Park Place, appealed to “mom and pop retailers,” with the bonus that the landlord “will set lease terms accordingly.” It’s been noted by locals and real estate agents that the pop-up store business, while a successful stopgap measure for landlords, is not a long-term solution.
“Village government would encourage mom-and-pop stores,” said East Hampton Village Mayor Paul F. Rickenbach. “When entrepreneurs come in, we wish them well.”
White’s Pharmacy and a handful of other East Hampton retail establishments have the increasingly uncommon distinction of staying in business, in the same spot, for over four decades, year round. So how do they manage to do it?
White’s, at 81 Main Street, was established in 1873 and has occupied the same space since then, making it the oldest continually-operating retail business in the village.
Bradley Marmon purchased White’s in 1954, although the business was recently sold to the pharmacist Vincent Alibrandi. Elise Marmon, Mr. Marmon’s daughter, is still the cosmetics buyer at the store and can be found there more days than not.
“As the town has changed, so has our clientele,” said Ms. Marmon. One can no longer buy remedies for cholera, dyspepsia, or nervous prostration (at least not over the counter), but the shop is chock-full of high-end cosmetics and perfumes, keeping up with new brands as they emerge, and offers a full-service pharmacy as well.
Sam’s Pizza has occupied the same beige-colored spot on Newtown Lane since 1947, and remains virtually unchanged since Sam Naska opened the place with his family, when it catered to the year-round community, including Jackson Pollock, who lived in Springs. In a place where restaurants go toes-up about as often as goldfish, Sam’s is one of the oldest eateries on eastern Long Island.
East Hampton Village Hardware — now known as Village True Value Hardware — sold its first hammer in 1971, a few doors down from Sam’s, the same year as Tennis East on Main Street opened half a block away from White’s. Bernard Kiembock said that at the time it was a gamble to open across the street from East End Hardware, which closed several years ago.
Tennis East, which was profiled in The Star five years ago for its 35th anniversary, has been stringing rackets and marketing duds for the courts for 40 years. Renee Fertig, Adrienne Pizzolato, and Alexis Glowa are the owners.
Although, according to Ms. Fertig, they are selling the business, it’s sort of staying in the family. The new owners are Michael Donahue and Robert Rahr of M.D. Tennis in Westhampton. Mr. Donohue worked for Ms. Fertig at Tennis East a dozen years ago.
“The secret has been, we love our customers,” she said. “And also to be very careful about inventory going into the winter. Winters can be hard,” she said.
Even though it has moved its location at least three times in the past four decades, it wouldn’t be right in a list of decades-old village retailers to leave out BookHampton, which has been a comfortable literary hidey-hole for the year-round community of bookworms for over 40 years.
The outcry that arose when East Hampton Cinema changed from a one-screen movie theater to two screens during the late 1970s would be laughed at today. But the large single-screen theater, which offered smoking and non-smoking sections, had been serving up popcorn and entertainment since 1926 as the movie house built by Leonard Edwards. That incarnation, the Edwards Theater, burned to the ground in the mid-1960s, and was rebuilt as the East Hampton Cinema that exists today. It reopened on Aug. 3, 1965, with a showing of “The Finest Hours,” a documentary about Winston Churchill narrated by Orson Welles.
Vered Gallery, Obligato, Gubbins, Khanh Sports, the Party Store, Bonne Nuit, Second Nature, Wittendale’s, the Palm restaurant — these businesses will probably still be serving customers, along with the other places mentioned, as additional stores and restaurants continue to pop up and fizzle out in the coming years.