Home, James!, nestled in a bright, goody-filled spot at 55 Main Street, is closing its doors after 25 years in business.
“We’re going to focus our energy into our wholesale collection,” said David Cipperman, who owns the business with his partner, Josef Schreick. The shop features tableware, accessories, and linens, along with other personal items, such as Christmas ornaments, and has been a favored destination for shoppers since it first came on the scene in 1986.
Dining collections like Two Mile Hollow — featuring sea creatures daintily set against a blue-and-white background — have given the shop its signature East Hampton feel. But now, according to Mr. Cipperman, even East Hampton Main Street is lacking an East Hampton feel.
Mr. Cipperman blames poor planning for the preponderance of chain stores that now inhabit spaces in the village formerly occupied by mom-and-pop stores. “People are starting to really notice,” he said. “It’s time for people to decide what they really want this village to be. It’s shifting away from a viable community and going toward a strict summer destination.”
The store’s print advertisement running in papers over the past few weeks points out “the drastic changes” East Hampton’s retail landscape has experienced in the last five years.
“Multinational corporations have taken over the shopping district with little regard for our history or year-round community,” reads the ad. “When shops open in late-May and close in September, Main Street becomes a desolate destination for the remaining eight months.”
The shop’s owners point to “extreme profit-seeking and lack of vision by our village officials” as the reason for the demise of locally-owned businesses. “It is very difficult to sustain a business with only three to four months of steady trade.”
“It used to be all pretty much locally-owned businesses here,” Mr. Cipperman said. “Now that’s the exception rather than the rule.”
Promises of half off the merchandise have kept a steady stream of shoppers coming to Home, James! since the closing was announced, both to purchase and pay respects. “I felt like I was in a receiving line at a funeral all weekend,” Mr. Cipperman said.
“People are upset,” he continued. “It’s at a point where the community has to have a meeting of the minds. I hope it will become a more conscious, thought-out process on how the village will progress. It’s been passive so far, and rents have been set accordingly. And people coming out here now, as the generations change, may not want to be as involved.”
The store, which is selling its stock and fixtures, was to stay open until Dec. 15, but with items being snapped up quickly, it may close earlier. “Thanksgiving weekend may be the last,” Mr. Cipperman said.
Future plans include adding more retail to the Web site homejameseasthampton.com and keeping an office on Newtown Lane for the wholesale goods. Mr. Cipperman, who is an architect, looks forward to taking on more projects.
This week, he remembered his regular customers with great fondness. “We have had 25 great years with the shop. We love our customers, we loved being here.”
“We’re really grateful for the time we had,” he said.