Tag Archive | "main street"

Aquaponic Farming, Rooftop Garden Proposed for Sag Harbor’s Page at 63 Main

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By Tessa Raebeck

Hoping to join the growing farm-to-table food movement on the East End, Page at 63 Main has proposed a greenhouse that would employ aquaponic farming and a rooftop garden to enable the restaurant to grow its vegetables on site.

Aquaponics is farming that combines hydroponics and aquaculture in a symbiotic environment. Through hydroponics, plants are cultivated in water and aquatic animals (in this case fish) are raised through aquaculture. Aquaponics allows the water from the aquaculture system — filled with nutrients from fish by-products — to be then fed into the hydroponic system to fuel the growing plants.

Attorney Dennis Downes represented Gerard Wawryk, one of the owners of the Main Street, Sag Harbor restaurant, at a Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting Tuesday.

The building currently has a footprint of 3,860 square feet, an area the project would not alter. The building’s front portion is two stories, the middle section has a one-story frame and masonry structure and the rear section has two stories. The restaurant occupies the building’s ground floor and the second floor houses a residential apartment.

Although the footprint would not be changed, the proposal would add 835 square feet of space to the existing second floor (which does not currently meet the full footprint) which would be added over the one story middle portion of the building and serve as a seeding area. A partial 481 square foot third floor over the rear potion of the building would serve as a greenhouse and the second story roof would house a garden.

“There is no change in parking or change in sewer,” Downes said Tuesday, adding that water in the tanks would not be going into the sewer as board members had previously wondered.

The plan was first introduced to the planning board in a work session November 26. At Tuesday’s meeting, Downes asked the board to adopt a resolution to send a 30-day letter for lead agency status and to allow the demolition of a gable roof.

Downes said renovations to the kitchen, which did not require approval, are underway and the applicants want to “put a solid roof on top of it that they can then incorporate it into a new building at a later date.”

The board adopted the resolution for lead agency status and entertained a motion to send a memo to building inspector Tim Platt allowing the demolition of the gable roof.

Planning board member Greg Ferraris asked Downes for documentation from an expert verifying the plan, in fact, has no effect to waste management and Downes replied he would have the sewer flow verified.

Doppio East to Open Sag Harbor Spot in Former Madison & Main Location

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dee-cuisine-doppio-pasta

By Tessa Raebeck

Known for artisanal pizzas and authentic Italian cuisine, Doppio Artisan Bistro will be opening a new location in Sag Harbor this spring, at the 126 Main Street spot previously occupied by Madison & Main.

The restaurant, Doppio East, will offer a raw bar, small plates and pizzas fresh from the dining room’s new brick oven.

As roommates at Fordham University, executive chef Louis Barresi and partner Thomas Pescuma dreamed of opening a restaurant together. While Pescuma worked in financial services, Barresi and his brother Joseph founded Doppio Artisan Bistro in Greenwich, Connecticut three years ago.

Following the first restaurant’s success, the duo joined with Harry Armon, Pescuma’s partner in a financial consulting firm, to found The Timeless Hospitality Group. The group opened Doppio Huntington in April 2013 and a French bistro, Barrique Restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut, two months later. They bought a Hudson Street location in New York City in the fall and are opening Doppio NYC this month.69928x471

Their latest venture into good food, Doppio East is a casual bistro set to open as early as March. Having visited the area every summer, Pescuma “got the urge” to open a location on the East End.

After purchasing the space occupied by The Paradise last year, Madison & Main co-owners Michael Gluckman and Eric Miller performed extensive renovations to the building’s interior. Pescuma said the new owners plan to keep many of the layout changes, such as leaving the bar by the restaurant’s front entrance. A brick pizza oven will warm the room from the back left corner.

Not yet finalized, the Doppio East menu will have many of the Italian staples from the restaurant’s other locations, with added seafood options and a full raw bar. It will feature pizzas, 10 to 12 piattini (small plates), appetizers, soups, salads, Panini, meat and seafood dishes, and, of course, pastas. All Doppio East dressings, breads and pastas will be made in house.

Coming straight from the brick oven, the selection of 10 to 15 artisan pizzas will include the signature Doppio pizza: butternut squash puree, mozzarella di bufala and pancetta finished with the finest extra virgin olive oil.

Large groups at Doppio typically order several pizzas and small plates. Ranging in price from $6 to $25 at the Huntington location, the dishes include: Clams Al Doppio, top neck clams, fresh herbs and panko bread crumbs; Polenta E Funghi Al Tartufo, a mixed wild mushroom polenta with truffle oil; and Polpo Alla Griglia, a “very popular” char-grilled octopus dish with fennel, arugula and citrus.553135363

The fresh pastas are done “Carpaccio style,” Pescuma says, meaning the house made pasta is baked in tinfoil and hand rolled. In addition to classic dishes like fettuccini Bolognese and meat lasagna, Doppio offers high-end dishes such as Pappardelle al Ragu D’Agnello, or house made pappardelle with braised lamb shank ragu, and Fusilli in Cartoccio, which features hand rolled pasta, porcini mushrooms, baby heirloom tomato, truffle oil and mascarpone cheese and is “the biggest seller as far as pasta goes,” according to Pescuma.

On bread baked in house, the Fiorentina Panini has skirt steak, caramelized onions and melted Gorgonzola dolce, while the Salsiccia Panini is filled with sweet Italian sausage, broccoli rabe and fresh mozzarella.

The partners are looking forward to adding several new dishes to the Sag Harbor menu; including a new chicken Chianti and at least one lobster dish.

“The plate size, despite the name, is actually pretty big,” Pescuma says of the piattini, adding that they may scale the size down and lower the prices for the Sag Harbor spot, although nothing has been finalized.

Doppio East plans to have regular live music and nightly bar specials on drinks and small plates and is “definitely going to be open year-round,” Pescuma said, adding the venue is ideal for private events.

Doppio East is opening this spring at 126 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit timelesshospitalitygroup.com.

With the New Year Comes New Sales for Sag Harbor Shoppers

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Veteran shopper Mara Certic checks out the wares at Urban Zen Monday morning. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Veteran shopper Mara Certic checks out the wares at Urban Zen Monday morning. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

While most retail stores in East Hampton and Southampton board up their windows for the winter, leaving a desolate Main Street for the local population, in Sag Harbor many stores are not only staying open, they’re also offering great deals for the year round community.

The sale signs are popping up across Bay Street and Main Street, with some stores offering as much as 75 percent off select items.

“It’s just a nice way to give back to locals,” says Kim Keller, the manager at Urban Zen on Bay Street, which is offering 50 to 75 percent off select items through March.

Giving back is at the foundation of the Urban Zen business model, which is centered around a “soulful economy,” as Keller calls it.

Haitian crafted goods are for sale at the store through the Haiti Artisan Project. Started by owner Donna Karan following the earthquake that shook Haiti four years ago, the project returns 100 percent of the proceeds from the items to Haiti.

The luxury items at Urban Zen range in price from $20 for “Haiti hearts,” or handmade heart-shaped rocks, to $7,000 for a crystal chandelier handcrafted in Haiti.

In addition to the Haiti Artisan Project samplings, Urban Zen has a variety of pieces from across the world, ranging from handcrafted belts made in Brooklyn by designer Jason Ross to leather jackets made by hand using the best materials in Italy.

“Obviously,” said Keller, “this store could not survive if it weren’t for our summer clientele. Like everyone around here, that is our business.”

Keller added that about two-thirds of the store’s business is conducted from June to Labor Day, but staying open in the winter – and having sales – is Urban Zen’s way to support the local community.

Although most locals may not be stopping into Urban Zen for a $895 cashmere dress from Italy, sales make it tangible to “collect” items by buying one or two pieces a season.

“They’re beautiful,” said Keller, wearing a cashmere sweater, scarf and hat, of the clothes at Urban Zen, “they last forever and go with everything.”

The men’s and women’s stores of Flying Point Surf Boutique on Main Street are similarly thinking of Sag Harbor’s year round community this winter, with sales of 15 to 50 percent off on all summer items.

“It’s basically to bring people in during the winter and help the locals out,” said Loreto Vignapiano, manager at the Flying Point Women’s store in Sag Harbor.

Vignapiano said after realizing last season that a lot of customers were coming into the store looking for summer clothes to wear on tropical vacations this time of year, they decided to put on a winter sale.

Until the new spring gear comes in in March, all swimwear and summer clothing in the women’s store is half off and flip-flops are buy one, get one free.

At the men’s store, board shorts, Reef sandals, and “pretty much all summer clothing” is half off, according to manager Bethany Semlear. Rashguards and tee shirts are buy one, get one free. The store is also offering 25 percent off wetsuit tips, 20 percent off body and boogie boards and 15 to 20 percent off sunglasses.

A few blocks down Main Street at Satori, a women’s boutique, owner Jessica Kenny is offering 30 percent off all clothing, excluding accessories, bras, hats, scarves, gloves, jewelry and some leggings, as part of its end of the season sale.

Kris Kim, a Satori employee, said there is also an ongoing selection of items for 50 percent off in the back of the store.

Traditionally less expensive than its luxury counterparts, Flashbacks is, as usual, offering items for $10 on a sale rack displayed outside the storefront.

An end of season sale of up to 75 percent off items at luxury boutique Life’Style ended last weekend.

A winter promotion at Calypso for 60 percent off of all sale merchandise also ended Monday. With the new collection having just arrived in store, however, manager Jennifer Lucey expects another deal is just around the corner.

John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor Moves Forward on Excavation of New Addition

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The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library.

The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library. (Photo by Michael Heller).

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of planning and months of revisions and setbacks, the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor is finally ready to start the excavation of its new addition.

“It really is an exciting time,” Catherine Creedon, the library’s director, said Thursday.

The restoration and expansion of the library’s historic building at 201 Main Street officially began in 2009, but the project has encountered several unforeseen obstacles that stalled its progress.

One of those obstacles occurred when work began on the excavation for the new addition.

Soil borings, tests that evaluate the soil and its ability to support a structure, which were done in the early predesign stages of the project proved inaccurate once the excavation began in August, rendering the original plans to support a 7,000 square-foot addition obsolete.

The initial plan was to support the structure with long finger-like spread footings, a type of shallow foundation that extends beyond the building’s perimeter and transfers building loads close to the earth’s surface. After performing more soil borings, however, the library found several areas of the construction site exhibited lower soil bearing capacity than was initially thought, meaning a deeper foundation was required.

The usual response to such a problem is to simply extend the spread footings further, but longer spread footings would have reached off of the library’s land and onto the neighboring property, 6 Union Street.

“Obviously,” said Creedon, “that wasn’t a possibility.”

The next fix considered was to install conventional driven piles, screw-like poles of either wood, reinforced concrete or steel that are pushed into the ground. Because the library’s village building permit limits the amount of vibration the construction process can create, however, conventional piles turned out to be yet another impossible option.

Working with preservationists, civil engineers, structural engineers and architects — all within the parameter of the building permits and property lines — Creedon went “back and forth with a series of designs” until a plan was finally determined.

“It’s been a journey, but we’re there now,” she said Thursday.

The team has designed and ordered stainless steel helical piles. At 20 feet, they will be driven into the foundation in key places. A header, or concrete beam, runs along the top of the piles.

“The combination of the beam and the helical piles will support the new addition,” said Creedon. “So it’s a great day.”

“I’m so excited,” she added, “to open that new building and so excited at the opportunity to really fully serve the community.”

The new piles will be delivered to the construction site on Friday and twisted into the ground soon after the New Year.

Driving the piles — 80 in total — into the foundation is expected to take two to three weeks. After the header is installed, construction will start on the other walls and the building’s steel support.

Depending on the weather this winter, Sag Harbor residents should be enjoying their new library within the year.

“Our latest schedule,” explained Creedon, “is showing that the substantial completion [will be] in August, so my goal — and I think I tend to be an optimistic person — my goal is to move back in there for the library’s birthday.”

Founded in 1910, the library will celebrate its 104th birthday on October 10, hopefully in its new and improved home.

“And sooner would be great,” adds Creedon.

With Something for Every Budget, In Home Helps Sag Harbor Shoppers Tackle Holiday Shopping

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David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

David Brogna and John Scocco show their wares at In Home

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

As Sag Harbor residents begin checking items off their holiday shopping lists, In Home is hosting a storewide clearance sale to ease the process, offering great deals on everything from sofas to stocking stuffers. With up to 70 percent off selected items, the sale includes regular clearance items, as well as closeouts from brand name manufacturers like Calvin Klein, Dansk and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Since 1996, In Home co-owners John Scocco and David Brogna have filled their Main Street shop with a carefully curated collection of furnishings for every room, occasion and budget. Brogna, an award winning Home Products Development Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), has an eye for design and a background as a buyer for companies like Macy’s. Scocco complements Brogna’s expertise with his own background in interior design and as an industrial film production manager. Together, they have built a longstanding store dedicated to both local and seasonal markets.

“We do have higher priced items,” said Scocco of In Home’s selection. “But most people don’t want to spend a lot of money these days, so we try to gear things for those shoppers.”

Brogna and Scocco have stocked their shelves with fun gift items under $25 or $50, “things that people would just come in and just want to pick up,” said Scocco.

One such item is the Corkcicle, a popular gift In Home was asked to restock after selling out last summer. For $23, the corkcicle is a long tube that resembles an icicle with a cork on top of it. After being chilled in a freezer, the corkcicle is inserted into a bottle of white or rosé wine. Unlike ice, the corkcicle won’t melt or water down your wine; instead, the bottle is both chilled and aerated upon pouring.

Another fun gift that was a hit this summer is the citrus sprayer, on sale at In Home for $15. After cutting the tip off of a lemon or lime, the citrus sprayer, which resembles the top of a spray perfume bottle, is placed on top of the fruit, allowing its owner to spray a mist of the juice directly from the lemon or lime.

“It’s really amazing,” says Scocco. “It really, really works.”

For under $20, In Home has a variety of other gift items from companies like Kate Spade and RSVP, including soap sets, candle sets, picture frames, personal care items and other home accessories. $10 can get you a chrome rabbit that doubles as a ring holder or a snow globe that’s also a ring game for children, as well as a variety of other “little fun stuff.”

“Of course, we do have a lot of other high end, more special items as well,”
said Scocco. “But our focus primarily is on the less expensive items.”

Brogna and Scocco are committed to keeping the shop stocked with reasonably priced gift items for the holidays, but they also hope to clear out the larger home furnishings in order to make room for next season’s stock.

“There’s a wide assortment of things,” said Scocco. “Some people feel intimidated, people that don’t really know us hear ‘Oh, that store’s really expensive…’ We do have a wide range and our pricing is really very, very fair and very well priced.”

The In Home team hopes to sell all the clearance furniture by January. Regularly priced at $1,980, a Stratton leather chair by Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, modern with a dark, lightly distressed wooden frame and creamy stone leather seat, is on sale for $899. A soft, 100% Egyptian cotton king-sized blanket from Sferra’s home collection regularly priced at $250 is half off at $125. Framed mythological star maps of the astrological night sky, 23” by 23”, are marked down from $190 to $99. Also on sale are sofas, coffee tables, end tables, throw pillows and virtually anything else you need to decorate your home.

“There’s so much you can get overwhelmed with all the product that we have in our space,” Scocco said with excitement.

In Home is located at 132 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 725-7900 or visit inhomesagharbor.com.

Garden Center Prepares for Easter Animals

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Garden Center adjusted

By Claire Walla


When Phil Bucking started his gardening store 17 years ago, he didn’t just bring flowers and foliage to the village.

For as long as the Sag Harbor Garden Center has been around, it has consistently hosted an annual petting zoo to cap off the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce’s Easter Bonnet Parade, bringing rabbits, pigs, ducks, chicks and even llamas to the area so that bonnet-laden villagers and their children could enjoy Easter weekend festivities after their midday trek up Main Street.

“We clear away everything,” Bucking said as he stood on the porch of the old train depot — now the hub of his business — and swept his arm across the front portion of his yard space. Come Saturday, where now there are wooden shelves filled with potted plants, colorful spring buds and rows of terra cotta lawn ornaments, there will be a bevy of farm animals (brought to the East End by a group from the Cornell Cooperative).

“It’s a bit of a hassle,” Bucking said of the routine round of heavy lifting preceding the event. “But,” he added with a grin, “we do it.”

The bonnet parade begins in front of BookHampton at 1 p.m. and concludes a quick 15 minutes later at the garden center, where farm animals will be grazing, grilled hot dogs will be sold for charity and — of course — the Easter Bunny himself will show up for a photo op. In prior years, Bucking said the Girl Scouts were responsible for dishing up the frankfurters; this year, that service will be provided by a group of elementary school students who plan to contribute all profits to the village’s effort to restore the windmill at Long Wharf.

The idea for the Easter Bonnet Parade-and-petting zoo was generated by the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce in 1996. According to Bucking, a chamber board member, the events were established in an effort to stretch the Easter holiday back to include Saturday. (There is also an annual Easter Egg Hunt at Mashashimuet Park on Sunday, sponsored by the Sag Harbor Lion’s Club.)

Extending the weekend is especially important for a holiday like Easter, Bucking added, because most village businesses recognize the holiday and close-up shop on Sunday. While Bucking said he didn’t think hosting the petting zoo had a particularly strong impact on the garden center’s weekend sales — “most people are here just for fun” — he did say that the event itself has been helpful for the economy of the village as a whole.

“It kicks-off spring for everybody,” Bucking exclaimed.

Well, in theory.

This year happens to be a special case. The mild winter and early onset of warm weather brought spring conditions a few weeks early. This has already proven to be helpful for the garden business, Bucking said, as people are planting and pruning much earlier this year. Bucking added that the weather may prove to be good for business for the duration of 2012, as he predicts there may be an excess of weeds and bugs — both pesky problems that can be cured by products Bucking sells at the Sag Harbor Garden Center.

In addition to business benefits, Bucking continued to say that this year’s weather is a good sign for the Easter Parade and Petting Zoo.

“Last year was the first rain-out,” Bucking said. “And the year before that it was cut short — again because of the weather.”

So, from the looks of it, it’ll be sunny skies for parade-goers this weekend, which means sunny skies for Sag Harbor’s business community.

Sustaining Variety in a Perfect World

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variety adjusted

By Claire Walla


Lisa Field was manning the register at the back of the Sag Harbor Variety Store one recent Thursday afternoon when an old man, awkwardly holding a small piece of insulated fabric, approached the counter.

“Do you have any Velcro?” the man asked skeptically.

Without missing a beat, Field reached over to a shelf behind her and pulled on a large spool of the sticky material.

“Do you want sew-on?” she asked, holding it up.

The man looked down at the kidney-shaped piece of fabric lying limp in his hands, somewhat puzzled. “I don’t know what I want,” he admitted.

Field picked up the piece of fabric and ran a small, thumb-sized strip of Velcro along the ends of two flaps on the sides of what turned out to be a winter coat, sized perfectly for the man’s Jack Russell Terrier.

“I think you’re going to want to sew it on right here, so it will last,” she pointed. Then she measured a half-yard (the store’s minimum), which came out to $2.17.

The man only needed a fraction of that amount, but he seemed pleased nonetheless. “Now I’ve got 12 years’ worth of Velcro!”

According to Lisa Field, whose parents Phil and Roseann Bucking bought the Sag Harbor Variety store in 1970, this sort of exchange happens all the time.

“People come here expecting that we’re going to have what they want,” she said.

Indeed, throughout the course the conversation, Field helped eight different customers find everything from pieces of fabric and tape measures to wool socks. Whether it’s Velcro, construction paper, yo-yos, sock darners, strawberry hullers or—simply—a single spool of thread, chances are the Variety Store’s got it.

And while you might expect as much from a store founded on the concept being able to carry everything its customers might want (without getting luxurious), this local one-stop-shop is somewhat of a rarity. Take sewing notions and fabrics, for instance. Field said these items are one of the store’s biggest draws; not because they’re trendy or cutting edge, but because they’re basic. And “not many people sell those things anymore.”

The Variety Store harks back to a different time in American history; a time before the Internet and before big box stores, when populations of people congregated around their Main Street, which inevitably cut through the center of town, because that’s where they went for all the basic things they needed to survive: the grocery store, the hardware store, the Laundromat… the local Five and Dime.

Sag Harbor has seen many iterations of change over the years, economic shifts that — for better or worse — have changed the make-up of Main Street. And yet, 90 years after the first Five and Dime opened in Sag Harbor, the Variety Store remains remarkably the same. The front entrance is still marked by a mechanical pony, which still costs only 25 cents to ride, and on inside you’ll find the same configuration of aisle ways, even the same configuration of lampshades against the back wall that existed at least as far back as the 1950s.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, who grew up in Sag Harbor, said he remembers the Variety Store from his youth, when it was more commonly called the Five and Ten and was owned by a Mr. Hansen.

“He had a little office upstairs where he could look out and make sure kids weren’t stealing anything,” Gilbride recalled with a chuckle.

Sag Harbor was different then, he said. Not only were there were more local businesses scattered throughout town, but they were an integral part of the community. Gilbride said he remembers when Mr. and Mrs. Korsak ran Korsak’s Deli on Madison Street where Cilantro’s is now (he still refers to it as Korsak’s), and when Stan Bubka ran the butcher shop close by.

“All that’s changed,” he added.

And while Gilbride said he believed Sag Harbor is weathering the current economic crisis relatively well, he recognized that family-run businesses have been largely affected by this change.

“The bigger chain stores are making it difficult for the mom and pops to survive.”

According to a Sag Harbor Express poll, 45 percent of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: I do most of my basic shopping on Main Street. This means less than 50 percent of the local population is estimated to be shopping locally on a regular basis.

“In my case, I’ll sometimes spend a little more money to stay right here in the village [to shop],” Gilbride added. “But, it’s hard for some people. Maybe when I fully retire I won’t be able to do that anymore, either. These are tough times.”

So far, the Variety Store seems relatively shielded from the current strain of closing businesses. According to that same Express poll, 89 percent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: I regularly shop at the Variety Store.

Perhaps the most important advantage the Variety Store has is that the Bucking family owns the building on Main Street where the Variety Store currently stands. It happened by chance, as Field tells it. Her parents only intended to purchase the business itself, because it was all they could afford. But, at the last minute, they struck a deal with the building’s owner, allowing them to pay for the property gradually over time.

“In hindsight,” Field continued, “had that not happened, we wouldn’t be here today.”

However, this doesn’t mean the shop is impervious to market conditions.

Perhaps the biggest threat to the store now, as Field sees it, is the notion that the Bay Street Theatre might leave the village of Sag Harbor.

“I think it could be devastating,” she said.

She compared the current climate in Sag Harbor — namely the worry over the potential loss of its arts institution — to the closing of the Bulova Watchcase Factory in 1981, which caused many permanent residents to move out of Sag Harbor to find work elsewhere.

Field said the store managed to recover quickly from those losses when — as luck would have it — the boom in the tourist industry swiftly took hold of the town.

“Thank God for the tourism!” Field exclaimed. “Because that’s what’s ridden us through [the tough economy].”

“Things go in cycles,” she continued.

For this reason, Field said she’s excited by the construction of the Bulova condos, because she imagines they’ll bring a whole new crop of people to the village. However, she realizes that the future of the Variety Store is dependent on a slew of competing forces.

While the store has managed to find success in the wake of big-box superstore Kmart opening up in Bridgehampton 12 years ago, shopping habits have changed dramatically since her family took over the business in 1970.

“It was a different time then,” she said. “If you needed something, you just went downtown to get it. Now, everyone can order things online — people don’t think anything of hopping in the car to drive to Riverhead to go load-up on stuff.”

This is a reality nearly every business owner on Main Street must contend with in some way.

However, as far as business owner Linda Sylvester — who owns Sylvester & Co. on Main Street directly across form the Variety Store — is concerned, stores like the Sag Harbor Variety have a great deal of staying power.

“The species as a whole remains constant, no matter how technology evolves,” she said. “Shopping is completely emotional, it’s social. I don’t think going to Walmart is very satisfying, even if it’s cheap.”

Shopping, she continued, is not just the accumulation of goods. It’s a chance to be a part of a community, to hear voices and engage in conversations — in a way, it’s also an adventure. As she sees it, not only does the Variety Store carry basic items needed to run a household, physically it’s a maze of shelves brimming with a discordant array of trinkets and oddities that trigger an emotional reaction in many of its customers.

“I think the Dime Store should be considered a shrine,” she mused. “People go there every day to worship at it.”

She continued, “The Dime Store is an example of what’s old is new again. There’s a certain amount of sustainability and humanness that’s lacking in the corporate world.”

In the grand scheme of things, she said Sag Harbor Village has managed to preserve a strong sense of community. But, as for what the future holds, Sylvester can see the balance potentially shifting.

“I think Sag Harbor has a longer run than most of the Hampton villages because so many people on Main Street own their own buildings,” Sylvester explained. “When that cycles out, Sag Harbor will go the way of East Hampton [Village]” — which is filled with Manhattan-based retailers, many of whom close-up shop in the winter months — “And that will be a sad day.”

Sag Harbor resident Eric Cohen believes Sag Harbor has already lost some of the character that made it so appealing when he and his wife, Bobbie, moved to the area in 1979.

“Bobbie and I came here because it was kind of funky and run-down, and we liked that feeling,” Cohen explained. “We didn’t want to be living in one of the flashy parts of the Hamptons.”

While he said Sag Harbor will probably never mirror the change he’s witnessed in East Hampton Village, he said he thinks Sag Harbor Village is beginning to become a version of that. Ultimately, he’s worried that the increasing cost to rent will start to drive more small business owners off Main Street, and that rising property values will pressure building owners to put their buildings up for sale and cash-out for hefty profits.

Field said she has no intentions of leaving Main Street, or changing the Variety Store. In fact, when asked whether or not she would consider selling her building, she grimaced — “I don’t even want to think about it!” she said.

“My earliest memories are of the store,” Field began. “I remember when I was 10, my brothers and I would go into the basement and mark the back-to-school items. And now my kids have all done that.”

Field has thee children, as well as nieces who have all worked at the store. She said she has no idea whether or not one of them will be so inclined to take-on the family business; but, she has no intention of going anywhere.

“As long as all the independent stores are here, I think that Sag Harbor will still have a vibrant Main Street and a good community,” she said. “Of course, 50 years from now, if we’re the only store here, it’s not going to be a vibrant Main Street.”

But Field chooses not to dwell on such things.

“In a perfect world, I’d keep the Variety Store open forever!” she said with a big grin. “And Conca D’Oro would be right across the street and the Wharf Shop would down the way… Because I think what we have is great. And, yeah, in a perfect world I’d keep it that way.”

Liquor Sales Steady Leading Up To Irene

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Liquor Store

In addition to batteries, flashlights and tape, for some, hurricane survival packs are not quite complete without a good Chardonnay. Or Pinot. (Whatever your preference.)

However, Bob Schmitz of the Sag Harbor Liquor Store said sales are just as steady as they were before Hurricane Irene entered the collective consciousness.

“It’s about the same,” he confirmed.

Even though sales have skyrocketed in advance of the coming storm at other Main Street shops (including the Variety Store, Emporium True Value Hardware and Schiavoni’s), from his perspective, relatively normal sales at the liquor store might be because some people have decided not to stick around to battle Irene, which is expected to hit on Sunday.

“A lot of people have already left,” he said.

Schmitz added that he came over the Jordan Haerter Memorial Bridge this morning, Friday, August 26, “wondering what I was going to see.” The scene partially illustrates what he’s seeing in sales, he said: “The marina was emptying.”

“We’re going to have a slower Labor Day based on what this storm has already done,” he predicted.

Schmitz said he suspects many second homeowners who are now pulling their boats will put them in winter storage early, rather than put them back into the water.

As he sees it, Hurricane Irene has already caused damage to the village.

He continued, “People are going to be eating their hot dogs [on Labor Day] in Nassau County this year.”

TASH to March on Main Street

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Next Monday, the Teacher Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) will march together with members of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) union from neighboring districts on the streets of Main Street in protest of the recent teacher contract negotiations in Sag Harbor. The village board of trustees approved the permit for the TASH rally on Tuesday evening, October 13, but had a few requests for TASH President Eileen Kochanasz.

Above: Teachers picketing in front of the Sag Harbor Elementary School in January of 2009.

Sag Harbor Village Trustee Tiffany Scarlato brought up concerns, saying she felt Main Street business owners would likely be upset with the demonstration and complain to the trustees. Kochanasz assured Scarlato that teachers would personally visit the store owners ahead of time to talk with them about the rally.

“Hopefully, that takes some of the heat off of you,” said Kochanasz to the board.

Kochanasz explained the event would entail people parking in available spaces in the village. The group will then meet at the Long Wharf, walk up one side of Main Street with signs of protest in hand, march back down the other side of the street and then make their way to Pierson High School via Madison Street. Once at the high school, noted Kochanasz, participants would disperse from the area on their own and not as a group.

“If there is enough people we might walk in two groups down [Main] street simultaneously,” reported Kochanasz during a later interview.

On the permit application, Kochanasz informed the village that the rally could attract up to 300 people. TASH has invited fellow NYSUT members from all the Suffolk County schools to join in the rally. Although Kochanasz doesn’t have final tallies of how many people will show up on Monday, representatives from Southampton, Bridgehampton, East Hampton, Tuckahoe, Westhampton, Riverhead, Eastport, Springs, Shelter Island and Montauk plan to attend the event. Jim Kinnier, a prominent member of TASH, also reached out to educators at schools located on the North Fork.

The group will walk on the sidewalk and not the roadway, but Kochanasz and Kinnier plan to meet with Sag Harbor Village Police Chief Tom Fabiano to discuss the logistics of the march. A few teachers have volunteered to stand at crosswalks and help organize vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

At the trustees meeting, the board members only briefly discussed the negotiations between the teachers and school board, which have been under way for more than 20 months. Mayor Brian Gilbride noted he has already offered school superintendent Dr. John Gratto the use of the Municipal Building for any further negotiations with TASH, with Scarlato offering herself up as a mediator.

“We actually have tried that with two outside mediators,” noted Kochanasz, referencing the mediator and fact finder the district has already employed.

The board unanimously approved the permit, although Scarlato said she hopes it does not become a monthly request.

The TASH rally will begin at the Long Wharf in Sag Harbor on Monday, October 19, at 5 p.m.

Alternate Route

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In fighting for bike access on Main Street, perhaps the cyclists of Sag Harbor are trying to make a statement — to promote the co-habitation of motorists and bikers and create a greener village. Perhaps, this statement is more important than being able to actually bike on Main Street — a street that is potentially dangerous for cyclists.

But we feel there is a way to promote bike use in the village and promote village businesses as well.

We think a designated bike route behind Main Street, along Spring and Meadow streets, would be a safer route for cyclists traveling through the village or stopping at a village business. In addition, this bike route could create an incentive for shop owners to make the rear of their businesses more attractive and inviting to bikers, shoppers, and passer-bys. A rear storefront that is up to par with the aesthetics of the front of the store would be conducive to better business. So if a biker wanted to shop on Main Street, he or she could lock up their bike to a rack and go through the rear entrance.

As it is now, the back of these businesses are, largely, poorly marked and wholly unattractive. There is an alleyway between the Variety Store and the pharmacy that is virtually unnoticeable. Spring Street is a drab stretch of pavement. As the cyclist movement is pushing for a greener Sag Harbor, perhaps these are the venues where more landscaping and small garden areas could emerge. The addition of bike racks would also promote bike usage along this roadway.

The village could accomplish this by establishing a business improvement district. This would be a self-taxing district where the business community would actually be able to raise the funds to make changes to the landscape, provide bike racks and parking and complete other improvement projects. The business improvement district would be run by members of the district.

Although we are currently living in desperate economic times, Sag Harbor should still be ready with a direction for future development and improvements. If the future of our village is to be more efficient and greener, both will need a more cyclist friendly village.