Temperatures soared this week and as residents of the East End became wistful of spring’s near arrival, trickles of second homeowners came out to enjoy the Hamptons’ natural beauty, and of course, its main streets.
For many business owners, this was the beginning of the end of a harsh winter marked by blizzards and quiet streets.
While Sag Harbor has not been subject to the same shuttered store syndrome as neighboring East Hampton, business owners like BikeHampton’s David Krum and Flying Point Surf and Sport manager Steve German said this week that savvy, creativity and initiative was crucial to keeping their stores open year-round.
Krum’s love of bicycles rode him from a career as a professional bike racer into the business of selling bicycles, racing gear and accessories at Main Street, Sag Harbor’s BikeHampton, which he has owned for 10 years.
The Montauk native said generating business in-season is not an issue; but during the winter, when people are not generally thinking about outdoor activities, it can be a struggle.
“The way I stay in business is I sell on eBay,” said Krum, adding that other stores have picked up on the same off-season tactic.
Krum said in addition to selling bikes and gear from BikeHampton’s stock, he also helps customers sell their outdated products on eBay, with Krum taking a percentage of the profit.
“It’s always summer somewhere,” he said. “I needed a way to make it through. Not many people are thinking about bikes out here in the winter.”
Krum also hosts regular sales during the off-season. With spring and peak cycling season just around the corner, BikeHampton customers can enjoy 10 percent off tune-ups and anywhere from 10 to 50 percent off merchandise.
On his way towards being a master in bicycle fitting, Krum also boasts professional bike fitting services and is able to build a custom bike based on height and weight, and also any health issues like knee or back problems, which can make each bike a perfect fit for his clients.
Krum said he also tries to ensure every price point can be hit at BikeHampton.
“We sell everything, from the least expensive to the most expensive road bikes,” he said. “And you will get the same kind of custom fit from us, whether you are spending $800 or $10,000.”
Next door, at Flying Point in The Harbor, the Sag Harbor branch of the Southampton-based Flying Point Surf & Sport, manager Steve German said providing shoppers with a variety of products, at a variety of price points, is the key to the business’s year-round success.
“We cater to everyone,” said German. “From mothers to fathers to kids. A lot of our store is geared towards the teens, but we also have merchandise from Tommy Bahama and Quicksilver that are for the more mature customer.”
Founded in Southampton in 1996 at a County Road 39 storefront, which still operates seasonally, Flying Point Surf & Sport quickly grew to open a year-round Main Street, Southampton location. Three years ago, it absorbed Sag Harbor’s Island Surf at 34 Main Street. In addition, the business boasts Flying Point Surf Boutique, also on Main Street, Southampton and the Flying Point Outlet in Water Mill.
Last year, German said the company expanded the Sag Harbor store to include the Flying Point Sunglass Boutique, selling everything from Christian Dior and Tom Ford sunglasses to Ray Bans and sports eyewear.
“The location has been very key,” said German of Flying Point’s success in Sag Harbor. “Here we see the marina traffic and day trippers in season and there is also a year round clientele.”
In addition to apparel for men, women, teens and children – from bathing suits to graphic tees, fleece outerwear, jackets and sweatshirts, hats and board shorts – Flying Point also carries an array of accessories. Shoppers can find jewelry, toys, wallets, watches and more, while searching for the perfect surfboard, skimboard, wetsuit or skateboard – the mainstays of the business.
German started out working in corporate for Body Glove, and opened the first Quicksilver store on Prince Street in Manhattan. Having a family, though, brought him to the East End. Before coming to Flying Point, he ran Main Beach Surf & Sport.
German said the company has branched out into the Internet, hosting a blog and keeping clients updated on social networks like Facebook, and he attributes the year-round success of Flying Point to its diverse stock.
“We try to cover all the price points,” said German.