- Even on a gray, cool day in mid May, many of the shops in Amagansett Square had their doors propped open. The square
was quiet as the warm weather crowds have yet to fill the assortment of stores arranged around the open green. Happily, business owners there say the calm won't last long.
Entrepreneur Randy Lerner, who owns Meeting House restaurant, bought the complex
three years ago, with the aim creating a central gathering point in the community.
Photo courtesy of Meeting House.
"I think the square is going to become an increasingly important part of Amagansett," said Charline Spektor, the owner of BookHampton
, a recent addition to the square. More than a dozen shops and eateries, ranging from Reed Photo Shop, Meeting House restaurant, and the Hampton Chutney Co. edge the open green, attracting crowds of shoppers, many with children in tow.
First opened in the 1970s, the square was most purchased by financial magnate and Cleveland Browns' owner Randy Lerner three years ago. After undergoing extensive renovations and landscaping improvements, it has become a community and retail center for downtown Amagansett.
"It's lovely," Spektor said. "The square is very beautiful aesthetically, and makes us very happy."
Doug Petkovic, the operations manager at Meeting House restaurant, and Lerner's liaison in the square, said Lerner created a comprehensive plan to redo the square after purchasing it. "He looked to see what the needs of the community were," Petkovic explained. While all of the square's shops are currently filled, Petkovic said Lerner is looking to attract "good, service-oriented" shops in the future as the stores change over the coming years.
The green is the center of a dynamic movement of retail give and take in the small, quaint and time preserved hamlet of Amagansett. Shop owners at the Square are quick to recommend each other touting the wide variety of offerings complementing each other in different ways.
During the summer, the green space is home to shoppers and families taking advantage of the outdoors. Mixed Media, a trendy art supply shop (pictured above) draws area artists to the Square.
"There is a lot of synergy between the green and the retail," Petkovic noted. "It's nice to be surrounded by other shops that you like to recommend to other people - and we do," Spektor said, adding, "I think we have a real appreciation of what each shop has to offer."
Linda Sylvester, who opened an offshoot of her Sag Harbor lifestyle mainstay, Sylvester & Co., in the square three years ago agreed. "I think there is great interaction between the shop owners because it's a pool of independent store owners as opposed to corporate owners."
BookHampton is one of the newest additions to the Square. Above, Karen
Petkovic, who works at the store, with Tide, one of the store's resident cats.
Sylvester was drawn to the laid-back, "gentler" environment at the square when she set out to open Sylvester & Co. At Home. "The square has become what I would consider the Central Park of the Hamptons," she added, referencing the benches, sculpture, and a gazebo that populate the handsome green.
The shop owners take advantage of The Square to expand their offerings beyond the confines of each store's four walls. "We'll hold story hour on the lawn as soon as the lawn is dry and the sun is shining," BookHampton's Spektor explained. Customers take advantage of the green after shopping. "Nothing is as nice as getting a book and an iced tea and really stretching out," Spektor added. A movie night once a week is planned during the summer.
Even the animals approve. BookHampton's two resident cats have made themselves at home in BookHampton's airy blue and white store, with one, an orange and white feline named Smudge staking his claim on the square itself, sitting vigilantly outside the bookstore's entrance on a recent afternoon. "He loves the square," Specktor noted with a laugh.
And for parents with children or shoppers with reluctant spouses in tow, the green is an open-air waiting room. "The garden is a nice place to be while you are waiting for a friend," Sylvester said. "Parents leave their children outside and they shop, and it's safe," said Sara Kohlmann, the manager of Mixed Media, a store that sells professional art supplies.
And as shoppers circle through the square, each store comes with a different view. Sylvester offered raves about the vantage point of her store. "The trees are blossoming, the light is pouring in," she said. "It's dreamy."
BookHampton plans to hold story hour outside during the summer months. Plans are also in place to screen films in the center green.Photos by Mariah Quinn