The shopping forecast for the Hamptons seemed pretty grim earlier this month as a bunch of stores in the chichi shoppers' mecca, East Hampton, sat empty with brown paper-shrouded windows that once displayed pricey baubles, art, beachy designer apparel and more. And, ouch, it hurts when big luxury guns like Gucci pack up and leave, and strong resources such as Cole Haan and Calypso Home head out.
But in the Hamptons, retail hope springs eternal. "I'm very optimistic, and I always expect the stores to fill up for the season," says Marina Van, executive director of the East Hampton Chamber of Commerce, noting that in East Hampton, anyway, all those vacant stores now have been rented, or their owners are negotiating deals.
True, some are not the typical Hamptons spots. Shoppers' lust probably will not be quelled by the new AT&T store on East Hampton's Main Street where a ritzy jewelry shop once stood (very convenient for a cell phone on the fritz, however). Chico's, the 598-store chain with easy-on-the-wallet fashions for mainstreamers and moms, ironically takes over a spot where a big real estate office used to deal. And one of the smash hits of the season may well be the large new Michael Stars boutique, which, among other things, sells those famously fab, cottony T-shirts that start at about $35.
Fear not, there are still luxe shopping ops, led by a new Balenciaga boutique taking over the Brooks Brothers space in East Hampton. Still, perhaps your credit cards won't get quite the workout this season. Here's a look at what's happening all over the Hamptons shopping scene.
Kailani: 12 S. Etna Ave., 631-668-1518
This Hawaiian-inspired women's boutique (loads of turquoise and yellow decor) sells clothing (much from Hawaii), jewelry designed by one of the owners, Kristin Burke, and swimsuits beloved by surfer gals for their fit. Curvier types will appreciate that sizes go up to 24. Also find bath and body products (one brand, Kai, is an Oprah fave).
Cynthia Rowley: 696 Montauk Hwy., 631-668-8076
A bright blue logo on the store reads "Shop," and there's beach grass growing off the roof, adding to "the chill, rustic vibe of Montauk," at this new 800-square-foot store. There's a full range of Rowley products - women's wear, shoes, accessories, and, when you buy, you get a reusable cotton beach bag that says, "Save Gas. Shop Montauk." Rowley collaborations - swim gear from Roxy and surfboards from Meyerhoffer - also will be available.
Outeast Gallery & Goods: 65 Tuthill Rd., 631-375-6730
Find revolving art exhibits, handmade jewelry, ornamental statues from Tibet, and Mexican satchels and textiles as well as hard-to-find knickknacks from around the globe.
Whoa! Nellie!: 770 Montauk Hwy., 631-668-2626
Welcome to kitsch headquarters, which opened a year ago and is full of feel-good memorabilia including candy. Owner Linda Seaton says the inventory is, "campy and over-the-top," with an amazing array of retrostyle gifts and specialty items including vintagelooking Coca Cola, Pepsi and Betty Boop watches, clocks, signs and free-standing figures. Seaton's inspiration was souvenir shops in national parks, which she visited years ago on family trips. The awning reads "Merry Christmas Montauk USA," all year long. Prices start at $1 for a foot-long Tootsie Roll.
Gansett Lane Home: 6 S. Etna, 631-668-8050
Gansett Lane Home moved in March to a much bigger store with more good stuff. Look for a new collection of organic baby furniture, tabletop goods, outdoor furniture and their regular staples - accessories, art and great Madeline Weinrib reversible cotton rugs with beautiful prints (8 x 10 around $1,000); these, reportedly, very hot.
Balenciaga: 54 Main St.
This luxe Parisian brand, famous for "it" bags and swoon-worthy clothes designed by Nicolas Ghesquiere, supposedly (according to Women’s Wear Daily and East Hampton in-the-knows) will open a 900-square foot boutique in Brooks Brothers’ old haunt. The company is oddly hush-hush about their new digs -- the merchandise mix, store décor and even the phone number -- seem to be top secret as well as the opening date. That said, the chic-o-meter goes bonkers for Balenciaga and the price tags are equally insane.
Michael Stars: 66 Newtown Lane
It's a temple to T-shirts at Stars' first East Coast location. The 2,000-square-foot store radiates a relaxed seaside village vibe with more than basic tees - there's a dress and sweater collection, accessories, belts, hats, scarves and even leather handbags. Prices range from $35 to $150.
Vanita Rosa: 60 Newtown Lane, 631-604-2500
"I'm told that you put it on, and you feel sexy," says Howie Cohen, the owner of Maddy's 390 in Greenvale, of Vanita Rosa. He opened the brand's third store with his wife, Maddy (the two others are in St. Barts and Paris . . . ooh la la) in late-May. The 650-square-foot space offers hip beach chic, including lacy ruffled tops (in the mid-$600 range) and linen tops in many colors ($400-$500).
Chico's: 75 Main St., 631-324-1401
You'd have to be in a coma not to know Chico's. The chain that began in Sanibel Island, Fla., in 1983 will open a Hamptons outpost with a seaside village feel - weathered wood tables, sisal rugs and 1,100 square feet of an edited-for-East Hampton collection including jewelry, embroidered tunics, cropped and cargo pants and beaded sandals.
Juicy Couture: 17 Newtown Lane
Opening May 28, expect 1,800 square feet of pure Juicy, including the brand's iconic tracksuit emblazoned with "Choose East Hampton" on the jacket, and on T-shirts. There are romantic dresses, loads of saucy shorts and bold summer accessories. Swimsuits, natch, girls' (including babies') apparel and a free reversible tote with any purchase of $200 or more, while supplies last.
Madewell: 20 Newtown Lane, 631-324-0363
Madewell is celebrating its one-year anniversary over Memorial Day weekend by offering a pair of sunglasses, free with any purchase, while supplies last.
La Perla: 66 Newtown Lane
La Perla is back for a second season with its pop-up store. The Italian luxury brand presents La Perla Mare swimwear collection and lots of luxe lingerie. And just in case you need one - there are corsets, too!
Emilio Pucci: 66 Newtown Lane, 631-324-5247
Pucci returns for a second season with its pop-up store that houses a capsule collection just for the Hamptons.
Naturopathica Holistic Health Spa: 74 Montauk Hwy., 631-329-2525
This spa has had a major renovation offering many revamped products. The restful space, owned by Barbara Close (Glenn's cuz), has a new boutique and a bunch of new treatments.
Magaschoni: 2 Newtown Lane, 631-329-8139
Magaschoni has moved off Main street and into its new 2,000-square-foot boutique nearby. You'll still find the company's much-loved knits (ahh, the summer-weight cashmere) in tons of colors.
HB HOME: 83 Main St., 631-608-4321
You can buy a cushy pillow to freshen up a room or go whole hog and do your entire house at this "hip, preppy and luxe" new home furnishings store (there are three others, in Westport and Greenwich, Conn., and Manhattan), that offers design services and access to D&D building goods, as well as some exclusive items. The 1,000-square-foot space with a whitewashed floor, grass-cloth wall covering and lots of art, serves as a showroom with displays of sofas, tables, lamps and more.
Lil' Bit of This-n-That: 1 Sunset Ave., 631-998-0545
Find new and used clothing, jewelry, knickknacks and housewares at this thrift shop where there's a smattering of vintage (a fringed shawl is $25), antiques and consignment pieces. "Everything is in good condition," says owner Alyssa Andersen, and a portion of the profits go to the Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation.
Shibori: 135 Main St., 631-998-0757
Named for the Japanese textile dying technique (much like tie-dye), this 1,100-square-foot Asian-inspired space has an excellent selection of Eileen Fisher, including the brand's Shibori dyed scarves ($100-$150), Margo Morrison jewelry, and Erik Javits handbags and hats.
Gloria Jewel: 125 Main St., 631-998-0882
The newest and third store for Megan Leary, this 900-square-foot spot where the ABS store used to be will have a larger selection of pants than Leary's other two stores. "There's so much denim around, but linen is a crisper look for the summer," says Leary.
25 Park: 2415 Main St., 631-537-7525
Open since mid-April, this hip, 1,500-square-foot women's and children's clothing and accessories boutique has an "uptown Bohemian vibe," according to owner Alison Brettschneider, who has another store in Manhattan. Find brands like the Olson twins' Elizabeth and James, cool gladiator sandals, and the summer must-have - the Matta scarf, $150, a gigantic cocoon of cloth that goes to the beach and out to dinner.
Gloria Jewel: 136 Main St., 631-907-4095
Owner Meagan Leary made a big splash last year with her new store in Bridgehampton and this season is opening two more (though she's closing in Jamesport). In Amagansett she's taken over a space once occupied by a beauty salon and will sell her unique blend of casual-meets-sophisticated dresses, tops and pants. Find Hawaiian brand Indah that features longer ruffled dresses that go to the beach and lunch afterward.
Atlantis by Peter Elliot: 50 Jobs Lane, 631-377-3650
It's all about "dads and lads" at this Manhattan retailer's new 800-square-foot store, where owner Eliot Rabin has teamed up with Atlantis WeatherGear to open a co-branded store stocked full of American-made clothes for the sailing set (and some dressier duds for the Hamptons' lifestyle).
Michael Kors: 30 Main St. 631-283-2633
Another Hamptons pop-up for Kors (the first was in East Hampton). Eighty percent of this 1,500-square-foot "lifestyle store" is about accessories - bags, jewelry, sunglasses and shoes, as well as select ready-to-wear pieces from the designer and MICHAEL Michael Kors lines.
Collette: 22 Main St., 631-287-5100 (moved from Jobs Lane)
"The average Joe (or Josephine) who walks in does not know this is a consignment shop. They think it's a high-end boutique," says owner Tisha Collette. Find the ultimate handbags in mint condition - rare Chanel (at 20 percent off), Judith Leiber and Prada, along with a fabulous selection of fairly current designer duds at up to 50 percent off retail. Also, find killer deals at The Bargain Basement by Collette at 10 Main St. There is another Colette's in East Hampton, and a newer, huge one in Sag Harbor.
Sean: 76 Main St., 631-725-0102
The only men's store in town (owner Sean Cassidy already has two stores in Manhattan), and this one exclusively carries Parisian designer Emile Lafaurie. The sophisticated-but-casual collection includes sports coats, dress shirts and current best-sellers, modern-cut crisp linen shirts ($138) that are dressy enough for the office but also great for a cocktail party, in 12 colors.
Madison Interiors for Collectors: 3 Madison St., 631-725-7000
You can spend $80 for an antique tin airplane or up to $80,000 for a painting by Russian artist Petrov-Vodkin at this 3,000-square-foot store that specializes in circa-18th and 19th century paintings, artifacts and furniture. Buzz is lots of New York decorator-types already are shopping the place.
b.b. balsam: 83 Main St.
Opening up late June or July. The store will sell women's clothing and accessories, all very "edgy," says owner Barbara Balsam. "If it's in a department store, I don't have it." The interior of the 400-square-foot space, is "Mondrian-inspired," and the merchandise includes the softest Pima cotton tee with embroidery and detailing ($57) to a military-inspired leather jacket ($750).
Collette: 80 Main St., 631-725-9300
Collette has vastly expanded (now among the largest stores in Sag Harbor) and includes owner Tisha Collette's bargain basement, where the prices on great used stuff are rock bottom.
World Village Fair Trade Market: 101 W. Montauk Hwy., Suite 4, 631-728-7880
Go recycled and get some cool new goods at this Fair Trade hub that helps provide for 30 developing countries. New this season, amid the handmade scarves, jewelry and organic chocolate, are bowls, candleholders and floor mats ($14-28) made out of old potato chip bags, or opt for lovely journals and diaries out of reused cotton and cloth ($15-$28).