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Long Islander opens old-fashioned general store reminiscent of 'simpler times'

Amber Otto owns the newly opened Eastport General

Amber Otto owns the newly opened Eastport General Store in Eastport. Credit: Dakota Rose Photography

Shoppers looking to buy contemporary items for the home might find something unexpected at a new store that opened in October — the delicious aroma of fresh-baked cookies may greet them at the door.

Amber Otto, the owner of Eastport General Store, offers for sale everything from housewares and local artwork to jars of Backyard Brine pickles made on the North Fork and fresh baked goods on weekends. She says she wanted to create a one-stop shopping atmosphere with a throwback feel to bring comfort and nostalgia to customers.

"Growing up in Montauk we had the Springs General Store in East Hampton when I was a kid, as well as the Orient Country Store," Otto, 35, of Eastport, explains. "Another store that really inspired me is Atlantic Spice located in Truro, Massachusetts, which is a bit of a general store filled with all sorts of interesting and useful kitchen gadgets as well as spices. As a kid I loved shopping there when we would visit family on the Cape [Cod]."

So when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Otto, who previously worked at a home furnishings store in Amagansett and then as a designer at a Hamptons-based interiors firm, says it seemed a perfect time for her to open her own general store.

"Something positive to come out of the COVID shutdown was a renewed focus on shopping small and supporting local businesses, so my original thought was to create a market where customers could find all of their favorite local foods in one place," Otto says. "As I developed this idea, it evolved to include many other product categories that I saw a need for in our area, such as gift items, housewares, and even fresh baked goods — things that with my background in retail and interior design have been fun to source and shop for."

Available at the store, which features many Long Island brands, are pantry and refrigerated foods, a fresh brewed coffee bar, throw blankets, pillows, table linens, candles, diffusers, kitchen tools, pottery, coffee table books, pet supplies, bar and cocktail items, things for children, personal care and apothecary products. Otto says her customer age range is about 25 to 70.

"A general store gives shoppers a feeling of nostalgia and reminds them of simpler times when we weren’t so overwhelmed with infinite choices — when small-town, mom-and-pop stores were the norm and you could feel connected to the community while shopping."

Hours for the store, located at 510 Montauk Highway, are Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 631-320-2081; eastportgeneralstore.com.

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