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Shop Owners: Main Street in Desperate Need of Boost

New businesses and a shop local campaign are just a few ideas for turning around downtown Hampton Bays.

For shop owners in downtown Hampton Bays, a stagnant Main Street that's clearly not exciting locals is doing their business no favors all. In fact, it's hurting their bottom lines.

"What we really need is a shop local campaign," said Dana Rubin, owner of Hampton Bays Wines and Spirits. He adds a dire warning: If people continue to do their shopping up-island there won't be much of a Hampton Bays Main Street left.

Alex Joseph of boutique Daughter Time agreed. "At Christmas time, everyone shops at the mall. It's horrible. ... We have to get people to shop local."

For many of the owners we spoke to, a fresh infusion of new stores would be a huge help, adding depth to a shopping district that already offers a variety of shops in its small commercial strip.

But while neighbors such as Southampton Village and Westhampton Beach have very pedestrian friendly downtowns, the infrastructure in Hampton Bays is far less inviting, owners said.

"We don't have big sidewalks so people are not coming here to walk around town," said Darren Ottati, owner of Gayle's Beauty Salon. But, he said, what Hampton Bays does have is a Main Street where you can get just about anything you need at about half the cost.

"We need to let people know about all the services that are available," said Ottati. "You can go to Southampton and spend $300 to $400 on a highlight, but come here to get the same thing for $150. This is the only affordable East End town to shop in."

To get the word out, Pattye Pece, president of the World Village Fair Trade Market, said she'd like to see business owners network more.

"We need to look at what is happening right here already. Study it, research it and find out what other places in the country are doing. We don't have to re-invent the wheel."

She suggested a campaign where shop owners could offer coupons to other area shops, which she said would show a "solidarity among biz owners," and help dispel outsider opinion that Hampton Bays is just a "pass-through town" on the way to the Hamptons.

Bringing businesses together, she said would also entice new businesses to the area, but she said she would not recommend more retail, but instead more music.

"In Austin, Texas, there is that strip where every single bar/restaurant in a row on both sides of the street are "music of every type." This draws people into that part of town, for sure. How cool could it be to have all types of cultural music places?"

Another way to bring in new shops, says Simone Scotto, of Scotto's Italian Pork Store, is for landlords to bring down their rates and spruce up existing buildings.

"There are some areas that need improvement," said Scotto, who sits on the board of the newly formed civic group, Concerned Citizens for Hampton Bays, which is actively working to spruce up Hampton Bays.

"Some landlords need to fix up their buildings so we have a Main Street that is presentable and people want to hang out, walk around and spend some time."

With that, he said landlords should lower rents and look to bring in knickknacks shops.

Tom Maloney, owner of Shinnecock Hardware agreed that specialty shops would help define Hampton Bays.

He pointed to his daughter's new shop, Hampton Art Space, which he says has been doing very well.

"We need shops that are going to bring people in," he said, suggesting that artsy-type businesses and high-class antique shops would provide Hampton Bays with an identity.

"We need to bring families back," he said.

Business owners also offered up other ideas to help improve Main Street.

Scott Jeffrey of East End Bait and Tackle said he could lure-in more business if the parking along the canal is open to tourists in the summer — currently only residents can use the parking at the North end of the canal.

Mark Schumacher, owner of Hampton Music and Arts, recommended that Main Street's speed limit be enforced to make Main Street more walkable.

"I see trucks coming down here at top speed," he said, adding that "there is no real safe place to cross in the middle of town."

Related Reading

  • Chamber President: Hampton Bays Is Going Through An Identity Crisis
  • New Community Group Aims to Clean Up Hampton Bays
  • Readers Sound Off: Blight in Hampton Bays
  • Squiretown Owner Seeks Recipe for Improving Facade

For more news from Hampton Bays, click here.

Patch wants to know: What do you think is needed to bolster business on Main Street? What types of businesses would you like see move onto Main Street? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

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jks October 09, 2012 at 08:13 PM
I agree with SImone,landlords need to reduce rents on Main Street to invite more retail. They also need to spruce up their buildings to make them more inviting to customers. The town in fact already looks good thanks to the HBBA.
Jacqueline Sirignano October 09, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I also agree- reduce the rent to a reasonable amount and spruce up the buildings to make them more alluring and inviting to customers. Have the County pave Main St.! Main St has so much potential to be spectacular and yet quaint. The narrow sidewalks are not the problem. Main St needs a few good cafes/bistros and tables should be arranged outside so customers can dine al fresco. It also needs moderately priced gift shops and clothing boutiques for ALL ages (women/men/teens/children.) I love the idea of artsy type businesses. Anything cultural related will lure customers. Any type of specialty shops would be great, too as customers are willing to pay more for gourmet, specialty items. I am a seasonal resident and when I am out there, I try to shop local as much as possible and am willing to pay a higher price to support this great hamlet. I read Westhampton Beach will be installing an antique clock in town to spruce up the area. This would be a wonderful idea for our town. Just a thought...
Boo October 10, 2012 at 09:49 AM
HB looks like Brentwood and Freeport. Adios small town feel!
Bojames October 10, 2012 at 11:50 AM
I spend summers( since 2003) in Hampton Bays. While i like to get the best price for a product and will travel to big box stores in Riverhead I find that shopping locally saves both time and money. All things equal, or even nearly equal, I shop locally. I like the service at Shinnecock Hardware.
tmw October 10, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Lower your prices...there's a huge markup,even in the dollar store!
Besim Cukaj October 10, 2012 at 02:16 PM
You need more stores that will attract more women. Clothing, shoes, jewelry are all a girls best friend. But they have to be fashionable of course. That's why SH , EH, BH and WH have the traffic that they have. Then you need to market that to the right crowd and before you know it Main Street will be hopping. Go for it you've got nothing to lose!
Hbjoker October 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM
If you want to fix the problem, you need to go to the source of the problem: The Town of Southampton and the Planning Board which has been in power for far to long. Every good idea over the past 20+ years has been turned down or they will drag the owners of said ideas throgh the mud for years until they give up! Hampton Bays needs to seperate fom the town and become it's own township. Hampton Bays has the highest year round residents, why do we need some folks who do not even live or own anything in Hampton Bays making decesions for us? Otherwise we will remain the crotch of the Hamptons. If the problems are not fixed, we surely deserve the nicknames that we have been hearing and seeing for years, Harlem Bays, Compton Bays, Home of the Emerald Highway!
Hbjoker October 10, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Are the taxes on these commercial buildings going to be reduced so that these owners can reduce their rents? Think before you speak! High taxes (for our schoolss) equals high rent!
New Guy October 10, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Enforce the speed limit, no one stops at stop signs. I did an experiment and walked and rode my bicycle in different hamlets and villages, People slow down, wave and smile in most cases. Hampton Bays is the only place where they speed up. I have witnessed speeding & running stop signs. To start folks pave the Montauk highway, paint the lines & redo the sidewalks properly. Why is Hampton Bays the only place on the east end with a year round green line, and now with shades of red? Saving tear downs does not help the area, commerce does (Job creation). Take a good look at the other Hamlets and villages, walk through. The highway here is a sad looking place it is no wonder people speed through.
john langan October 10, 2012 at 07:07 PM
The parking patrol doesnt make it very convienant for parking, the entire town minus a few buildings need new matching facades. Pave main street, fix the sidewalks, try to attract restaurants and bistros. Live music in that "park" next to squiretown in the evenings, sidewalk sales, pave or seal the parking lot where Kriegs and Liggets are. The HBBC has done a great job landscaping but the private properties need to be landscaped also. How about a Gazebo in the park for the music and picnic tables so people can take to go food from town to eat. Maybe the businesses and movie thearter can get together and If you buy a meal for two you get a discount on movies.
jks October 10, 2012 at 10:40 PM
Yes,it is no longer a dollar store, it is now a $1.50 store, hard to find anything for $1.00 in that store.
jks October 10, 2012 at 10:44 PM
All seem to be good ideas. LIve music in the park next to Squiretown once in a while would be very nice.
Patricia October 11, 2012 at 12:57 PM
So true...the park is a waste,nothing goes on there , not even during parades or holidays
Hbjoker October 11, 2012 at 04:37 PM
the town has do reduce it's taxes on commercial property for this to happen, which means residential taxes will need to go up
jks October 14, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Redoing the town with a nautical theme sounds right to me. Hampton Bays has always been known as a fishing town, low key and very appropriate for the area.
Joanne Dinardo October 14, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Outdoor cafes would be great...clean up the dollar store parking lot and Kriegs parking lot...( nice stores and very accommodating owners) but shabby looking shopping centers....who own these strip malls anyway? Probably not locals. I'm a weekender/ summer resident....but only shop locally...you can't get better service than Shinnecock hardware...but we do need a facelift on main street...have you ever seen Atlantic ave in Delray beach Florida? The town brought it back from the dead...lighting, cafes bars restaurants...beautiful

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