2. Willy Nilly Trading Company Inside Willy Nilly Trading Company on Main Street in Bay Shore. More on the store
Photo Credit: Yana Paskova
In a community that has seen its share of ups and downs, Bay Shore's Main Street is definitely on the upswing, with more restaurants, bars and specialty shops popping up all the time.
The YMCA Boulton Center, which features popular bands and musicians, serves as both the physical and sentimental center of the street. No chain stores here. And the only drugstore is Shore Drugs, where pharmacists really do know customers by name.
There's a reflective garden with benches for the weary, and the bandshell showcases events, including the Oct. 6 Pumpkin Fest.
"People want that unique charm of an American street, where you meet your neighbors or fellow businesspeople," says Donna Periconi, president of Bay Shore Chamber of Commerce. "There's something just charming about an old-fashioned Main Street."
Here are five stops along the way:
THE GARDEN GATE GALLERY
(146 W. Main St., 631-328-4307)
Situated on the western side of Main Street, this upscale gallery features handmade art pieces created by about 100 American artists (OK, one or two Canadians, too). Pieces are as eclectic as life-size whimsical people and animals made from recycled metals -- including a moose made of John Deere tractor parts -- handblown glass bulbs (including a $210 glass chandelier) and wind chimes tuned to sound like bells ($279).
It's such a visually beautiful spot, just walking in the door is an enjoyment.
"It's got to touch your soul," owner Bob Burns says of the gallery. "There's a lot of positive energy that comes from handmade objects."
(184 W. Main St., 631-647-5112)
Real bakeries where goodies are made on premises are getting harder to find, but at this sweet place, there are store-made cupcakes and cookies and pies galore.
Take a seat on the couch at the large front window, where your feet rest on a pink shag carpet as the sun shines through. Try a raisin scone ($1.75). Or bring home a customer fave, fruit butter-cake tarts (blueberry, peach and passion fruit, $16.75 or $18.75 whole or $3.95 by the slice).
(175 W. Main St., 631-666-4488)
One of the first shops to open during the main street "renaissance," the shop is a plethora of fun girlie items -- from Alex and Ani bracelets and Vera Bradley bags to Merle Norman cosmetics.
A Spartina 449 linen and leather handbag for $92 and a cellphone case for $37 are among new items at the store. Just in time for Halloween, there are fun lace bat caps $29.95 and witches hats with veils ($24-$29), as well as L'epi de Provence soaps, $6.
Next door is Willy Nilly at Home, which focuses on fun housewares.
(67 W. Main St., 631-665-0060)
Peek into this small cooperative on the north side of the street. Sometimes, you can glimpse some of the studio's 65 students at the pottery wheels. If not, you can still browse the dozens of pottery pieces for sale made by members of the cooperative. On a recent afternoon, there was a cereal-size bowl for $35 and a lovely blue vase for $38, both handmade.
(11 E. Main St., 631-665-3511)
Just a few steps beyond the small vestibule, scents of lavender and citrus and other lusciousness flavors waft around. The shop, owned by aromatherapist Peggy Nenos, is one of those places you can get lost in -- just smelling soaps and looking through the bottles of herbal scents used for specialized lotions.
One big seller is the all-natural bug spray, a concoction she devised that even seems to work on sand flies. A fun buy is her $5 organic-vegetable-based soaps.
"I call it my feel-good shop," Nenos says.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included Divine Fashions and Accessories consignment store, which has closed for renovation.