It may be nearly 100 miles from Brooklyn, but the name of the hottest — maybe coolest — borough in the Big Apple comes up frequently when shopping in Greenport.
“It is super-encouraging as a small businessperson to have so many people from the city popping in here,” said Elizabeth Sweigart, co-owner of The Times Vintage (429 Main St., 631-477-6455, thetimesvintage.com), “and every year that’s been more and more the case.”
This distant major village on the North Fork is also a place where businesses like Sweigart’s thrive, she said. “And it wasn’t like that when we first got here about seven years ago … there was a time when outside of the summer — and even weekdays during the summer — Main Street was empty. Now we see people all year, and I think — for my store anyway — it helps that we carry things that are very unique.”
Standing with the owner while she works, two groups of shoppers — all hailing from Brooklyn — browse clothing, accessories, hats, wigs, shoes, jewelry and more, nearly every piece one-of-a-kind. “We really don’t have anything in multiples here,” she said, “so there’s not 'one thing' that shoppers are looking for.”
But before shoppers even get to the main display area, they walk through a mini-record store, with short rows of vinyl records and a record player where music spins at times. “The records definitely bring me in,” said Ian Toy, a 22-year-old regular. “Elizabeth always helps me get my Joni Mitchell records — I mean, I do love all the antiques in here, but I’d say the records are really great.”
Elsewhere in the store vintage and antique items range from art and toys and magazines. “We do have one thing that’s not vintage,” Sweigart said, pointing out a bin of prints and paintings from local artist Ria Anasagasti-Bracken, who also has served as a casual employee of The Times: “Her work incorporates a lot of old imagery, so it ties nicely into what we do here.”
Around the corner at The Weathered Barn (41 Front St.; 631-477-6811, theweatheredbarngreenport.com) nearly everything is crafted locally. “We’re an ever-evolving artisan boutique,” explained Rena Wilhelm, “much of what we sell is either made in-house or locally sourced.” Rena and her husband, Jason, have been at this location for eight years, and they too invoke the “B-word” to describe their clientele. “We see lots of locals, but more and more there are city people coming in, a lot of people from Brooklyn, and they are repeat customers.”
The walls are adorned with cups and kitchenware, silverware and soaps, jewelry and backpacks, and wallets and purses. “And don’t forget the gnomes,” Jason said. “Rena makes those, too.” The gnomes are holiday-focused décor items with an elflike appearance, “and then there’s Darth Vader,” he said with a grin. A single Darth Vader gnome, only a few inches high, is a standout, nonetheless.
Among the unique things they sell? Silverware rings handcrafted by Jason from 50- to 100-year-old vintage silver plate. "There’s a lot of tradition behind the silverware ring,” the Wilhelms explained in tandem. Servants in 17th-century England would steal spoons from their masters’ homes, then use them as wedding rings, they explained. "We think they perfectly match our focus here, as they combine something traditional, something that stands as personally special and something handmade.”
Back on Main Street, at Goldsmith’s Toys & Electronics (128 Main St.; 631-477-0466, greenportvillage.com/goldsmiths-toys-and-electronics), the ducks are a big draw. “We definitely get repeat customers here, especially for our ducks,” beamed Kathy Halliwell, the store's owner. “They come for the seasonal ducks, or just to see what’s new.” The palm-sized rubber ducks are easily the first thing one notices about this independent toy store. Varying in theme and color, the colorful ducks are displayed on a rack that sits in the front window. “We get people here who were buying ducks when they were kids, and now their kids are getting ducks, too.”
Goldsmith’s has been here for 34 years, including a move from 138 Main St. about a year-and-a-half ago when the building that held the original space was sold. “I actually think our store is doing better since the move, as we’re now closer to Claudio’s and Lucharitos,” Halliwell said, referring to popular eateries, “but I think that as more business goes online, we’re doing well because people can come in and touch our products … the kids that come in here can grab a stuffed animal and squish it, experience it — that you can’t do online.”
In a back corner, a showcase is filled with toy train cars, tracks and pieces to add dressing, ranging from detailed mini-people to farm animals; the toys come in simple red boxes that give the appearance the pieces are vintage, but as Halliwell said, “those are all new … we try and stick with classic toys — there are so many trendy toys out there — our toys are the kind that tend to stay popular, with some that were enjoyed by parents when they were kids.”
Here are more spots worth a stop:
Not Just Bows, 120 Front St., 631-477-2808, greenportvillage.com/not-just-bows. Specializing in hats, this shop also carries clothing and other accessories.
Kate's Cheese Co., 19 Front St., 631-333-2722, katescheeseco.com. This gourmet cheese shop serves sweets, teas, and craft beer and wine; a variety of events includes live music.
One Love Beach, 211 Main St., 631-333-2064, onelovebeach.com. Focused on paddleboard needs, One Love stocks beachy clothing and accessories.
Greenport Fire, 125 Main St., 631-333-2233, feelthefireny.com. Specializes in “hot” merch, especially sauces, candles and cigars.
Burton's Bookstore, 43 Front St., 631-477-1161, burtonsbooks.com. Independent bookstore serving Greenport for about 40 years.
Aldo’s, 103-105 Front St., 631-477-6300, aldos.com: Quality house-roasted coffee and biscotti, to boot. Lucharitos, 119 Main St., 631-477-6666, lucharitos.com: A festive destination for tacos and pork huaraches. Brix & Rye, 308A Main St., 631-477-6985, brixandrye.com: This fitting spot can cap a day of shopping with a craft cocktail or local wine. For more on dining in Greenport, visit newsday.com/feedme.