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How a Long Island beach boutique survives the holidays 

At TOLA., it's beach season year-round, according to

At TOLA., it's beach season year-round, according to owner Alison Buck. Credit: Gia Tims

Alison Buck believes every day should be a day at the beach, even during the holiday season — and that’s the tone she sets all year at her TOLA. clothing and home décor stores in Bellport and Westhampton Beach.

"For me, owning boutiques in small towns is about so much more than fashion, I wanted to create a vibe," says Buck, 49, who grew up in Bellport Village and still lives there. "Growing up on Long Island, I spent all of my summers at Bellport Beach, Old Inlet and Davis Park, and also Tortola where my parents chartered sailboats for extended family vacations. When I decided to open TOLA., the question wasn’t about whether to have a beach vibe, it was how to carry the beach vibe all year long." The name TOLA. is derived from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, where Buck was born.

Buck has a third Fire Island Pines TOLA. store with her signature "beachy" theme but that one is seasonal since most businesses close there during the colder months. That shop, located at Harbor Walk, opens the first weekend in April and closes at the end of October.

How does Buck sell customers on the idea of sun and sand throughout the year at her other stores?

With a background in event planning and experiential marketing, Buck says she knew just how to create a day at the beach atmosphere in all her shops, and she was so set on making the experience the most realistic that she doesn’t have an online shop.

"People tell me they can sense the salt air, no matter the season," says Buck, who opened the first TOLA. in 2014 in Bellport. She adds they’ll even shop at her store for holiday gifts such as beach towels and customized Long Island nautical chart blankets for like-minded family and friends. "It’s carefully curated but in a very laid-back, surfer-dude kind of way — both in aesthetic and attitude," she notes. "There are beach signs everywhere, decorative surfboards, soft hues, beach-inspired apparel, accessories, jewelry and home décor and bits and bobs of my beach life. We have Reggae Sundays all year long."

Things for women, men and children are carried at the stores, with some winter items including stylish boho-chic sweaters and accessories. Popular for the holiday season are ornaments and Surf’s Up holiday candles. Prices range from $15 for a host gift to sweaters for $70. Winter hours are every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with extended holiday hours.

For further information call the Bellport store, 136 S. Country Rd. at 631-286-0186 or Westhampton Beach, 128 Main St. at 631-998-4400.

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