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Retail Roundup: Customers, staff say bittersweet farewell to Tallulah

Longtime customer Audrey Halpern-Rosenberg of Dix Hills, right,

Longtime customer Audrey Halpern-Rosenberg of Dix Hills, right, shares an emotional hug with Talullah manager Robyn Marks. The Woodbury boutique closed its doors on March 23 after 35 years in business. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Tallulah has hung its last evening gown.

The women’s eveningwear and sportswear boutique in Woodbury closed March 23 after 35 years in business.

The decision was based on the shop owners’ desires to retire and pursue other interests, said Lon Goldstein, who co-owned the boutique with David Ostrove.

“This was a quality-of-life decision,” said Goldstein, 67.

Despite online retail competition and the growth of discounters siphoning off more of the apparel business at brick-and-mortar stores, sales at Tallulah were strong, he said.

“We truly are unique and it’s a busy store … in its volume and reputation,” said Goldstein, who declined to disclose the shop’s annual revenue.

He and his wife, Fredda, who ran Talullah’s eveningwear department, are relocating from Huntington Bay to Marina del Rey, California, where one of their two adult daughters lives.

Ostrove, 70, a Woodbury resident, declined to comment.

Located at 8285 Jericho Tpke. in the Woodbury Common shopping center, Tallulah had vestiges of high-end boutiques of the past — it offered in-house alterations, some clothing collections for which the shop had exclusive selling rights on Long Island, and personalized service from longtime employees. But it did not sell merchandise online.  

The shop also didn’t inflate prices to run deceptive discounts, and it only had two sales annually, Goldstein said.

“We don’t do phony pricing. We’re not a discounter,” he said.

The average price for a pair of pants in Tallulah’s sportswear section was $200, he said. Sweaters ranged from $100 to $1,000.  An evening gown could run you $1,000 to $5,000.

Goldstein was the operations manager for the approximately 3,000-square-foot boutique, while Ostrove assisted customers on the sales floor and was the creative partner and buyer.

The shop drew a loyal clientele that spanned generations, Goldstein said.

Dix Hills resident Audrey Halpern-Rosenberg shed tears in the boutique two days before its closing as she reminisced about its significance in her life. She often shopped at Tallulah, buying everything from casual clothing to the dresses she wore to her children’s weddings, she said.

“They’re honest. They know how to pick the right things for who you are. … It’s like family,” Halpern-Rosenberg said.

Twelve years ago, when she fought ovarian cancer, Tallulah supported her, she said.

“They sent me a beautiful letter and flowers,” said Halpern-Rosenberg, who is a rabbi/cantor at Temple Beth David in Commack.

There have been challenging periods for Tallulah, such as the recession of 2009, which the shop overcame, Goldstein said.

Tallulah had 10 employees.

Jericho resident Jamie Kanani, 74, was a 22-year employee who was one of two doing alterations in the boutique. They did everything from adding sleeves and shortening hems to redesigning entire dresses.

The work was plentiful but rewarding, she said. Moving on was bittersweet, she said.

“I’m sad because I’m not going to see my [store] family. … but I wish them the best,” she said.

Retail Roundup is a column about major retail news on Long Island — store openings, closings, expansions, acquisitions, etc. — that is published online and in the Monday paper. To read more of these columns, click here. If you have news to share, please send an email to Newsday reporter Tory N. Parrish at tory.parrish@newsday.com.

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