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'Presence' watches over Amityville shop
Last February, Debbie Kent, 52, of Lindenhurst, and her son, Jonathan, 30, opened Driftwood, a thrift, antiques and consignment store at 174 Park Ave. in Amityville.
Debbie, how has business been since you opened?
Business for us is very good. We never expected the store to finance our life, but my son had always wanted to open up a business.
Tell me what compelled you to open the shop.
My mother-in-law Hazel Elliot, who is 82, grew up on this very street, and this just seemed right. My son went to college to be a math and science teacher and now works with autistic adults. He fell in love with that, but needed more income, so that's where the store came in.
What did Hazel tell you about what Amityville used to be like back in the day?
She said it was a great place to shop. And it is. It's a close-knit community, and I can tell that they still want to hold onto the old days.
What does the shop's name mean?
My son named it and my husband carved the wooden sign with “Driftwood” written on it that you see from the front window. My son felt that people and items drift in and out of our lives, and that's what happens here. We help people sell the items they don't want. We have high-end antiques and thrift-store items.
You briefly mentioned earlier that strange things happen in the store. Can you elaborate?
The first week we opened, four different women ended up coming in, and like I always do, I asked what their babies’ names were. Each mother said, “Elizabeth.” Funny enough, my grandmother's name is Elizabeth and she died many, many years ago. I had a medium come in one day and she told me there was a presence in my store watching over us. Another time, I told my husband I needed round tablecloths and he later found a trunk on the side of Montauk Highway filled with 26 round tablecloths. Everything that we've needed has been somehow given to us in a strange way like that.
What do you think that means?
It's meant to be. We're meant to be here.
What do you think makes this place so special?
Everything that comes through has its own story. When people come in I ask them three questions about the item they want to leave with us. I ask, “Where did you get it?” “How much did you pay for it?” and “What does it mean to you?” We sit and listen to their story and that determines the price. We've been able to take an item from someone who no longer needs it and give it to someone who has been dying to have it. It's satisfying.