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DAN'S PAPERS, June 11, 2010 Page 30

BUSINESS Givin’ You the

Summer Business Heats Up

By T.J. Clemente Last summer is a very dark memory to many business owners on the East End, a season when too many of them reported that sales were down around at least 30% from the previous year (2008)—which wasn’t exactly a banner year either. But all signs so far are pointing upward to a better season for the summer of 2010. Henry Hildreth IV said last year was “painful,” perhaps the worst on his watch of the Southampton business that was founded by his family around 1842. He expressed his gratitude to the premium shoppers who came by on Memorial Day weekend and purchased products like high end lawn furniture, “like they always do every year.” However, he added that he was

concerned about the purchasing power of the middle class. He explained that although there is recovery in this area it’s still not up to pre-economic meltdown performance. Hildreth said he felt confident that moving forward, the middle class shopper will come back. He confirmed sales were up, and that he plans on finetuning his sales force to be up to Hildreth’s high standards. In East Hampton, a friend who runs a top name designer shop was not as positive as Hildreth. Her leading sales girl said, “Traffic was very busy, but no one was buying.” She was disappointed. I went to the Blue Parrot on Saturday night and was surprised that there was no line to get

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in, and there were seats at the bar. The same was true for Cittanuova, where I went in to greet Jim Jenson (J.J.) nearing a 30 yearanniversary bartending at the same location. I promptly landed two seats at the bar for an espresso. Earlier that evening I was in Montauk doing a restaurant review of the elegant, fine dining at The Harvest. Usually, without reservations, a seat at The Harvest is tough to get on a Saturday night—no less Memorial Day Saturday night. But it was not over-flowingly busy at 8:30 p.m. That Saturday night, I drove from Patchogue to Montauk and back on Route 27, and never was caught in traffic either way. That may be due in part to the expansion of lanes of County Route 39/NY-27 in Southampton, but with such great weather I was astonished at how swiftly I was able to get to Montauk, then back to East Hampton, where at 10:30 there was parking both in the lots and on the street. Waldbaum’s, no longer open 24 hours during the season, was also busy but not crazy, the young checkout girl said, “It really doesn’t get crazy until the first weekend in July, and super crazy the first weekend in August.” Interesting enough, I had to stop at the 7Eleven in Sag Harbor and couldn’t get a parking space in their huge lot. I ended up leaving when I saw the line inside was perhaps 30 people long, and moving slowly as the purchasers seemed to be in animated discussions about the prices. Hildreth shared his wisdom on this past Memorial Day when he explained, “This weekend we had great weather, really great beach weather, and that is not conducive to afternoon shopping.” So when asked, what the best weather is for shop owners, he said, “Fog, lots of fog.” I joked how I bet the concession stands at Cooper Beach in Southampton (being operated this season by the former owner of John Duck’s) and at East Hampton’s Main Beach must have been very busy with the great beach weather. I also noticed empty slips at all the Three-Mile Harbor Marinas (true, it is early). One owner said, “I used to have a waiting list, this season I have openings.” Lastly, on Sunday I drove the scenic North Fork and took in its unique elegance. Starting off in Riverhead, the Tanger Outlets parking lot was overflowing. There was no need to ask how business was there. But there’s nothing like shopping in the quaint, elegant, walkable downtowns of Southampton Village and East Hampton. Sag Harbor has a charm that is timeless, with a mixture of the traditional and quaint, and some chic new shops. Revisit these locations and find some values, sales and treats. While we may be off to a slower start, the dark days of the summer 2009 are in the rear view mirror.


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Dan's Papers June 11, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...

Dan's Papers June 11, 2010  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...