Lily Bergh, owner of Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls in Huntington,...

Lily Bergh, owner of Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls in Huntington, said she doesn’t know what her future holds since she hadn’t planned until recently to sell the store. Credit: Rick Kopstein

Huntington village locals knew Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls as a quaint and cozy gem where for decades customers young and old could count on being warmly greeted by the always smiling owner, Lily Bergh, and her friendly staff.

What was less known was that Little Switzerland's dolls from all over the world — including one-of-a-kinds and antiques — were so sought after that actors Demi Moore and Brigitte Nielsen, heavy metal star and Long Islander Dee Snider, former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, author Anne Rice and fitness guru Richard Simmons made purchases. Nielsen stopped by in person.

“I didn’t know that,” said longtime customer Phyllis Ingwer, of Melville, when a reporter told her about Little Switzerland’s celebrity clientele. “It felt like a small-town store — the type you don’t find anymore. Gifts were beautifully wrapped, and Lily and her husband would personally deliver them to customers’ homes,” Ingwer added. “Lily just did everything in such a beautiful, polite way.”

Bergh, a Huntington grandmother of five, retired after 43 years and her last day was Sunday. However, the site will remain a toy shop after being purchased by Lori Badanes, the owner of a Northport toy store, Einstein’s Attic. The space closed for renovations on Monday and is scheduled to reopen Friday as Einstein’s Attic Huntington.

“We thought a lot about this, as it was important to us that the community not feel they were losing a beloved institution,” Badanes, a Huntington native who lives in Northport, said of the name change. “We all decided Lily would retain the name Little Switzerland and social media presence to use as she would like in her future endeavors.”

Bergh stipulated in the sales agreement that her former staff keep their jobs.

For now, Bergh said, she doesn’t know what her future holds, since she hadn’t planned until recently to sell the store. She was interviewed on Sunday as customers and friends stopped by all day to wish her well.

Bergh said about a year ago, Badanes offered to buy the business if Bergh was ever interested, and Bergh’s son, Jason, advised his mother to sell it to her. Bergh said when people found out she was retiring, some offered to throw fundraisers to keep the store open, but money or the store’s performance wasn’t an issue.

Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls had remained popular despite competition from large stores and big online retailers due to the very personal attention customers received, Bergh said. So when the opportunity arose to have someone with a similar mindset buy it, it seemed right, she said. Jason Bergh is a director, cinematographer and producer; and Bergh’s husband, Jeb, is a cameraman whose work includes "Good Morning America" and "ABC World News Tonight."

“I decided she’s a good fit — she’s an educator and she’s going to help kids and parents find the right gift, and the right book — that’s what we’ve tried to do here, and I liked her,” Bergh said of Badanes.

Bergh, who was born in Transylvania, opened the store to fulfill a childhood dream of owning her own doll store one day. The first location was a 900-square-foot shop opened in 1981 on New York Avenue; then about 30 years ago Bergh moved to the 2,300-square-foot space on Main Street.

Visits to Little Switzerland became tradition for generations of Ingwer’s family, and Ingwer enjoyed most the variety of dolls the shop carried. Of course, there were Barbies, but it was the dolls that “couldn’t be found anyplace else” that Ingwer loved.  

“I have four children and 12 grandchildren, so we were always busy with toys,” Ingwer said. “We all loved going in there. She had everything from old-fashioned toys to those that were fun and new — every type of toy you could conceive of.”

Otan Vargas, of East Northport, his wife, Amanda, and their 5-year-old son, Gabriel, knew of the store but visited for the first time Sunday because they didn’t want to miss their last chance to shop at Little Switzerland. Gabriel left with three shopping bags of toys, some given to him for free by Bergh, as was her custom.

“It was fun,” Gabriel said. His favorite purchase? "The dinosaur."  

Another little boy who visited the store on Saturday burst into tears when he was told Bergh was retiring.

“It wasn’t just a toy shop, it was more than that,” Ingwer said. “But everything ends. I wish the new people well, but there is only one Lily.” 

Huntington village locals knew Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls as a quaint and cozy gem where for decades customers young and old could count on being warmly greeted by the always smiling owner, Lily Bergh, and her friendly staff.

What was less known was that Little Switzerland's dolls from all over the world — including one-of-a-kinds and antiques — were so sought after that actors Demi Moore and Brigitte Nielsen, heavy metal star and Long Islander Dee Snider, former New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, author Anne Rice and fitness guru Richard Simmons made purchases. Nielsen stopped by in person.

“I didn’t know that,” said longtime customer Phyllis Ingwer, of Melville, when a reporter told her about Little Switzerland’s celebrity clientele. “It felt like a small-town store — the type you don’t find anymore. Gifts were beautifully wrapped, and Lily and her husband would personally deliver them to customers’ homes,” Ingwer added. “Lily just did everything in such a beautiful, polite way.”

Bergh, a Huntington grandmother of five, retired after 43 years and her last day was Sunday. However, the site will remain a toy shop after being purchased by Lori Badanes, the owner of a Northport toy store, Einstein’s Attic. The space closed for renovations on Monday and is scheduled to reopen Friday as Einstein’s Attic Huntington.

“We thought a lot about this, as it was important to us that the community not feel they were losing a beloved institution,” Badanes, a Huntington native who lives in Northport, said of the name change. “We all decided Lily would retain the name Little Switzerland and social media presence to use as she would like in her future endeavors.”

Bergh stipulated in the sales agreement that her former staff keep their jobs.

For now, Bergh said, she doesn’t know what her future holds, since she hadn’t planned until recently to sell the store. She was interviewed on Sunday as customers and friends stopped by all day to wish her well.

Bergh said about a year ago, Badanes offered to buy the business if Bergh was ever interested, and Bergh’s son, Jason, advised his mother to sell it to her. Bergh said when people found out she was retiring, some offered to throw fundraisers to keep the store open, but money or the store’s performance wasn’t an issue.

Lily Bergh said she opened Little Switzerland to fulfill a childhood...

Lily Bergh said she opened Little Switzerland to fulfill a childhood dream of owning her own doll store.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

Little Switzerland Toys & Dolls had remained popular despite competition from large stores and big online retailers due to the very personal attention customers received, Bergh said. So when the opportunity arose to have someone with a similar mindset buy it, it seemed right, she said. Jason Bergh is a director, cinematographer and producer; and Bergh’s husband, Jeb, is a cameraman whose work includes "Good Morning America" and "ABC World News Tonight."

“I decided she’s a good fit — she’s an educator and she’s going to help kids and parents find the right gift, and the right book — that’s what we’ve tried to do here, and I liked her,” Bergh said of Badanes.

Bergh, who was born in Transylvania, opened the store to fulfill a childhood dream of owning her own doll store one day. The first location was a 900-square-foot shop opened in 1981 on New York Avenue; then about 30 years ago Bergh moved to the 2,300-square-foot space on Main Street.

'It wasn't just a toy shop'

Visits to Little Switzerland became tradition for generations of Ingwer’s family, and Ingwer enjoyed most the variety of dolls the shop carried. Of course, there were Barbies, but it was the dolls that “couldn’t be found anyplace else” that Ingwer loved.  

“I have four children and 12 grandchildren, so we were always busy with toys,” Ingwer said. “We all loved going in there. She had everything from old-fashioned toys to those that were fun and new — every type of toy you could conceive of.”

Otan Vargas, of East Northport, his wife, Amanda, and their 5-year-old son, Gabriel, knew of the store but visited for the first time Sunday because they didn’t want to miss their last chance to shop at Little Switzerland. Gabriel left with three shopping bags of toys, some given to him for free by Bergh, as was her custom.

“It was fun,” Gabriel said. His favorite purchase? "The dinosaur."  

Another little boy who visited the store on Saturday burst into tears when he was told Bergh was retiring.

“It wasn’t just a toy shop, it was more than that,” Ingwer said. “But everything ends. I wish the new people well, but there is only one Lily.” 

Firefighters injured in Lattington fire … American thirft … Barbie movie concert Credit: Newsday

Gilgo victim remains go home ... Firefighters injured battling Lattington fire ... Fire truck crash ... Mets spring training

Firefighters injured in Lattington fire … American thirft … Barbie movie concert Credit: Newsday

Gilgo victim remains go home ... Firefighters injured battling Lattington fire ... Fire truck crash ... Mets spring training

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