Terry and Gary Sanders are retiring next month after over two decades in business on Main Street. Photo by Michael Heller.
By Mara Certic
Gary and Terry Sanders, the husband and wife team who have owned and operated the Ideal Stationery on Main Street in Sag Harbor for more than two decades, have decided to close up shop and retire just two weeks shy of the 24th anniversary of the day they opened.
Sag Harborites woke up Saturday morning to a large sign advertising a retirement sale (our retirement – your sale) on the front of the store, which has served the village since 1863.
Mr. and Mrs. Sanders, who are the sixth owners of the 150-year-old business, say that they made the decision to retire about six months ago.
“Well, I convinced her six months ago,” Mr. Sanders said from behind the counter on Wednesday morning. The couple said they have enjoyed their time working in Sag Harbor but that they “have to move on,” and are getting ready to spend time with their three grandchildren Sophia, Cooper and Ava and perhaps going on a cross-country trip.
“It was almost like a party everyday,” Ms. Sanders said of the past two decades on Main Street.
“He loved being in his own business,” she said of her husband, who worked for a bank before buying the Ideal.
“I want to thank the community for the wonderful response they’ve had to our sign,” Ms. Sanders said Wednesday. There is a large sale going on at the store until the doors close on Saturday, March 7, and Ms. Sanders said when she arrived to work last Saturday there was a line of customers down the street.
The Sanders, who live in Southampton, met George Finckenor who sold them the building at 102 Main Street when he had the restaurant “The Beef Peddler” in Southampton.
“They were my best customers,” Mr. Finckenor said in a phone interview on Wednesday. Mr. Finckenor has lived in Boca Raton, Florida, since the early 1990s, after selling the Sanders the business, he said.
The Ideal Stationery, which first opened its doors in 1863 as more of a general store, has been in several different locations, according to Mr. Finckenor whose family owned the store from 1945 until he sold it to Mr. and Ms. Sanders.
The store has been at 102 Main Street since the early 1960s, Mr. Finckenor said, and was damaged by a fire on Memorial Day Weekend 1965.
Mr. and Mrs. Sanders this week negotiated a deal to lease out the storefront space, but the retailer who will be going in to that spot has requested of them to not name it yet. Mr. and Mrs. Sanders own the building, which has two apartments recently renovated by their three sons, Gary, Nick and Brett Sanders.
“If we hadn’t owned our own building, we wouldn’t have survived,” Ms. Sanders said.
“We strongly urge people to support local merchants,” her husband added. “It’s been a wonderful experience.” So wonderful, that the couple is even considering selling their house in Southampton, in order to find themselves somewhere to live in Sag Harbor.
After the store closes on March 7, the Sanders’ three sons (an architect and two builders) will get to work renovating the downstairs space before the new tenant comes in.
“It’s a family deal,” Mr. Sanders said.