The Flying Point Shop in Greenport
By Stephen J. Kotz
Flying Point Surf and Sport, a mainstay of both Sag Harbor and Southampton’s main streets, has established a foothold on the North Fork, where it recently opened a new store at 405 Main Street in Greenport.
The new shop, according to owner Mark Zucchero, is similar to the other five stores he already owns, which means that it is stuffed to the rafters with everything from surfboard wax and decals, to board shorts and t-shirts, to wetsuits and surfboards and paddleboards.
Since Greenport has a public skateboard park just down the block and around the corner from the new store, Mr. Zucchero said the new store focuses a bit more on skating than his other shops, with everything from short, plastic Penny skateboards from Australia to the long boards some kids use for basic transportation.
“It’s up and running and it’s been good,” he said of the new shop. “They don’t really have a store there for the skaters and surfers who live that lifestyle.”
For a casual shopper, a visit to one of the Flying Point stores is a bit like stumbling into a virtual catalog. There’s a reason why the shops are stocked with every model of Ray Ban sunglasses, swimming suits, sport shirts and Van’s skate shoes, not to mention a wide variety of surfboards and wetsuits in every size and style.
“It ties up a lot of the bottom line, but with the internet, customers have so many choices that if you want to survive you have to have a wide variety of prices and colors,” Mr. Zucchero said. “I’m not dealing with another surf shop. I’m dealing with a person who is sitting at home in front of a computer pressing buttons.”
For that same reason, he keeps his stores stocked Wiffle Ball sets, pool floats and toys, as well as toy shovels and pails for the beach. “It can’t be all apparel,” he said. “The beach is why they are here. “You gotta remember what brought them here. Why everyone is coming here is because it is a magical place. Everyone wants to escape the city.”
While his customers might be hoping to get out of the city, Mr. Zucchero said he is all about preserving Main Street as a shopping destination.
“You gotta be part of the community,” he said. “You can’t just come in and pop it up an shut it down a couple of months later. You gotta be in it for the long haul.”
He also believes that hiring young people helps build stronger communities. “All my help is local he said. “I take ’em young. A lot of people won’t talk to them until they’re 18. I’m thinking abbot the future of America.”
The Greenport shop is being managed by his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Chris and Stacy Rule, and just as he does on the South Fork, Mr. Zucchero says he plans to hire local help.
Mr. Zucchero was born and raised in Hampton Bays. A former owner of the Life nightclub on Route 27 just east of Southampton, he opened his first surf shop on Main Street in Southampton in 1995.
“It’s been a long run,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of ebbs and flows.”
He eventually bought the building on Main Street in Southampton that was the former site of the Southampton Hospital thrift shop and moved his flagship store there. He maintained his other shop, however, and stocked it heavily with eyewear and other accessories.
Mr. Zucchero expanded into Sag Harbor, where he now has two shops on Main Street, one with a everything from flip-flops to tow ropes and another, the Flying Point Boutique, which focuses on women’s clothing and swimsuits. He also has a small shop next to the Bridgehampton Florist on that hamlet’s Main Street.
The shopkeeper said he was not finished expanding and would love to some day open a shop in Malibu and perhaps one in New York City.
But don’t count on a store opening in East Hampton anytime soon. “You don’t think I’d like to have a store in East Hampton?” he said. “Unfortunately, I don’t sell $800 Prada board shorts. That’s a lot of board shorts to pay $400,000 for rent.”