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A St. James store meant for browsing

People browse Sunday at the St. James General

People browse Sunday at the St. James General Store, which is run by the Suffolk County parks department. (June 6, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday / Valerie Kellogg

If you like ambience with your shopping experience, try the St. James General Store (Moriches Road and Harbor Hill Road, 631-854-3740).

I've passed the sign on 25A for the shop dozens of times, always wondering what's there. Although I was a little anxious to get home yesterday because of the unusual tornado watch issued for Long Island, I decided this time I'd stop in for a quick look-see.

My pulse slowed as soon as I walked in. Warm lighting, dark wood and jazzy American standards piping through the speaker system make it one of the most mellow shops I've ever been in. People lingered, looking and asking questions, just enjoying the atmosphere.

There's a little bit of everything for sale, from candy to wind chimes to books to jewelry. Most of the merchandise is unusual, and much is priced well. I snagged a red handmade necklace and earrings for $11.

The two-floor general store was built in 1857; today it is run by Suffolk County parks department. Original counters, tea canisters, barrels and other displays are still there for the taking in.

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