By Marissa Maier
Dawn Berkoski, a Sag Harbor native, is intent on bringing some romance back to her hometown. No, she isn’t going to serenade passing villagers or sell buckets full of red roses on a street corner, nor is she becoming a matchmaker. Instead, Berkoski recently opened “Dreaming of You” — the first lingerie shop to grace the area in many years.
Berkoski is aware of the gamble in starting a specialty business while the economy is ailing. She argues that a decadent, lacy undergarment or a sumptuous robe, or a nice smelling body spray — all offered at her store — is a small antidote to these troubled times.
“I think lingerie is a necessity. Not only for practical reasons but it also makes you feel good,” Berkoski explained. “Uncomfortable underwear can ruin your whole day. A soft cotton camisole can add a layer of warmth and security. A secret, pretty bra can make you feel special. Receiving those things from someone who loves and dreams about you, well, that is stuff romances are made of.”
While more cynical types might scoff at Berkoski’s words, for her romance isn’t merely an idea but central theme in her life. She is an aspiring romance novelist, and proud member of Romance Writers of America and Long Island Romance Writers. An avid photographer, Berkoski’s personal albums are occupied by images of water: the turquoise beaches of Costa Rica, a rainbow arching over Niagara Falls, and waves licking the shores of Sagg Main Beach.
From the location to the fixtures, Dreaming of You is a personal project of love. Berkoski spent the last 19 years working at retail operations throughout the South Fork. Along the way, she discovered a love for lingerie and a knack for outfitting her customers with the correct size bra.
Now, Berkoski said she is “ecstatic” to be operating in Sag Harbor, a place she describes as “a diverse town filled with artists and dreamers like me.” Shopkeepers have already visited to wish her luck and offer advice. One store owner even presented her with a mum plant, which now proudly hangs near the storefront. Her husband Matt, a talented cabinet and furniture maker, built all the counter tops, shelves, benches and boxes in the store, and the walls are decorated with her framed photographs.
As for her offerings, Berkoski said “Everything I carry I own and love. Like my writing, my store is a reflection of myself. I’m a hopeless romantic. I love gorgeous French lingerie like Simone Perele but I also love pure, soft fabrics.”
Berkoski is covering both of these fronts. Her store will offer a selection of brand name underpinnings, from such companies as Felina and Freya. Organic cotton bath robes, nightgowns and underwear by Blue Canoe will be displayed, in addition to a line of socks made out of bamboo. She will sell organic nail polish by Karma Organic, as well as their complimenting eco-friendly nail polish remover that Berkoski swears smells like lavender. For her customers’ other needs, she will carry Tocca candles and laundry wash, and a collection of body sprays.
Right now, Berkoski is swooning over a line of heated slippers, also in lavender. As she explained, an insert is popped into the microwave for a minute and then tucked into the house shoe. “It’s the closest thing to walking on clouds. You have to feel them,” she declared.
Whether it is an obsession with a pair of slippers or an epic affair writ in the pages of a romance novel, it seems no tale of love is too trivial or too grand for Berkoski.
Dreaming of You is located at 150 Main Street, Sag Harbor, and is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.