Downtown Lynbrook launches a nostalgia trip for Long Islanders who cherish the memory of old-time shops around the corner and the holiday gifts they used to sell — colorfully displayed in big casement windows.
Step into one of the shops on Atlantic Avenue, the business district stretching from the Long Island Rail Road overpass to Merrick Road, and you’re likely to be warmly welcomed whether you’re buying gifts for a discophile, a cigar aficionado or kids of all ages.
“If a customer came back to the store 50 years later and walked in today, they would feel like they are experiencing their childhood again,” said Michael Miller, who with his parents, Stuart and Diane, runs Miller’s Housewares (40 Atlantic Ave., 516-599-1336, millerslynbrook.com). Considered the oldest retail shop in the community, it was founded in the early 1900s and purchased by the Miller family in 1944.
Tracey Segarra of Hewlett said she often stops by Miller’s during the holidays for wrapping paper and other Christmas and Hanukkah supplies. “It’s a great one-stop shop and a nice neighborhood store,” Segarra said of Miller’s, which recently added children’s toys and greeting card sections.
Lynbrook — the name is a transposition of the New York City borough from which many of its early residents hailed — is easy to find at the crossroads of Hempstead Avenue, Merrick Road and Broadway and just off Sunrise Highway. Train service on both the Babylon and Long Beach branches stops at Lynbrook’s elevated Long Island Rail Road station. The station, a short walk from Atlantic Avenue, will soon get new platforms courtesy of an $18-million Metropolitan Transportation Authority makeover.
Bringing the kids along? The Village of Lynbrook will entertain them at its annual holiday celebration from 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 1, with a visit by Santa, a tree lighting and crèche blessing. The Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce will be sponsoring a free children’s movie screening at 10 a.m. Dec. 4 at the Regal Lynbrook 13 & RPX. The $30-million movie house, which opened last year, features stadium seating (321 Merrick Rd., 844-462-7342, regmovies.com). Local holiday celebrations continue with the village menorah lighting at 6 p.m. Dec. 26.
One of downtown’s mainstays is Mur-Lee’s, a men’s and boys’ clothing shop (24 Atlantic Ave., 516-599-7777, murleesclothing.com), founded in 1946. Mur-Lee’s two levels are stocked with 350 men’s suits and such accessories as cuff links, stud sets and bow ties.
“The one thing that men enjoy about shopping here is they can come in be taken care of and be out in less than an hour,” said Harry Levitt, who took over the business with his brother, Bruce, from their father, Murray, and uncle, Lee.
“It’s an old-school haberdashery,” said Bernard Janowitz of Woodbury, a retired homebuilder who has been buying his suits, sport coats and pocket squares at Mur-Lee’s since the 1980s. “Everyone knows your name, they know what you like to wear and they direct you right to what fits the best and looks the best.”
And while their parents are shopping (or just for the fun of it), kids can create their own gift at the nonprofit CASK Art Center (48-D Atlantic Ave., 516-596-4278, creativeartspaceforkids.org). A team of artists offers classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, pottery and more for anyone who’s 5 or older.
“If they want to make a vase for grandma, we give the kids clay, they go on the [pottery] wheel, and we help,” said artist-owner Carlo Thertus. The center is hosting a Holiday Market where Long Island artists and artisans will be selling their creations from 4 to 8 p.m. Dec. 7.
The Needle & Groove Records (73 Atlantic Ave., 516-812-8688, needleandgrooverecords.com) offers its own spin on nostalgia. The store opened a year ago as an outgrowth of owner Larry Melilli’s personal collection of rare or near-mint vinyl records from the 1960s through the 1990s.
“We’re primarily a rock ’n’ roll store,” Melilli said, adding that music fans also can find albums from blues, jazz, R&B, soul, easy listening or heavy metal artists — everything but classical — among the 5,000 records in the store and the off-site inventory of 20,000 items.
Here are other Lynbrook shops offering a touch of nostalgia:
TrainLand, 293 Sunrise Hwy., 516-599-7080, trainworld.com. Here’s a model train shop with a place in cable TV history: “The Sopranos,” Episode 85, “The Blue Comet,” was partially filmed at one of the store’s miniature railway displays. Collectors can find everything from starter sets to limited-edition Lionels. “It’s a great family hobby,” said Ken Bianco, the third generation of his family to own the business founded in late 1960s.
Habana Hut Station, 45C Atlantic Ave., 516-887-9500, habanahutstation.com. This shop and cigar lounge one of the newer downtown shops, but “our whole ambience is very retro,” right down to the reproduction Edison light bulb lighting, said shopkeeper Raj Kataria. Smokers rest in comfy chairs with their choice of 100 cigar brands. The shop also sells cigar cutters and windproof Bugatti lighters.
Craft Kitchen & Tap House, 44 Stauderman Ave., 516-341-0547, craftlynbrook.com: This spot beckons with burgers, pizza and plenty of beer on tap. Doughology Donuts & Coffee, 45 Atlantic Ave., 516-341-0882, doughologydonuts.com: Here's a good spot to take a break with an Oreo-topped chocolate doughnut or more familiar cinnamon-sugar confection. Il Pozzo Wine Bar & Kitchen, 46 Atlantic Ave., 516-596-7870, ilpozzowinebar.com: A sit-down spot to savor Sicilian lamb meatballs or macaroni and cheese with truffled breadcrumbs.