Written by Dagmar Fors Karppi: email@example.com Friday, 06 April 2012 00:00
Something old has become something new as Buckingham’s Variety Store has reinvented itself into Buckingham Village. It is located at 36 Audrey Avenue in downtown Oyster Bay. Walter Imperatore, of Renaissance Property Associates, LLC, who manages the Oyster Bay real estate for owner Charles Wang said, “It is a new concept for the store. It’s been an idea in the back of our minds for a while. Recently, it seemed to us that there were a lot of little businesses that wanted to open up locally. Think Long Island First was the first. They were recently joined by Chef Fran’s Kitchenware. Now we have these different store owners with their own products sharing space.”
He said there are a lot of places doing it, but under the radar. J.C. Penney is doing it. Go into a bookstore and you see a Starbucks. Walmart is including Kentucky Fried Chicken, a bank and an eyeglass place. “It’s not far-fetched that we are doing a hamlet version here,” said Mr. Imperatore.
The site already includes Hope for Long Island, run by the North Shore Community Church that sells gently used clothing and knick knacks.
“We can fit a lot into that store and still have a reasonable amount of the original ‘variety’ of things people look for. I think we have a lot of those fun things that say we want to have fun.” he said.
They still have the basic items Buckingham’s Variety Store was known for, but he added, “We can’t have things that will sit around for four or five years.
“But who would know that lampshades sell so well. I can’t figure out why some things sell as well as they do. Are they having parties and putting the lampshades on their heads? We’ll have to begin putting them in the party section soon!”
“And don’t forget the candies and the cards,” he added. The two offer the most amazing selections. “It’s like being a kid in a candy store. Remember Turkish Taffy? And they have the old licorice, and other amazing stuff.
“And the greeting cards are fun. They are not like the standard card. These are fun and different cards.
“I always like that about the store,” he said thoughtfully.
The store is run weekdays by Jamie Dick, in-house manager, who is daughter of the late Dr. James Dick; and by weekend managers Claire and Chris Bellerjeau.
Ms. Dick said she hired Brian Thompson to work with her in the store. “His mother and my sister Margaret (Pookie) were great friends growing up. I met his mother, Lou-Ann Thompson, in a deli and asked what Brian was doing. He was working with my son James, and I asked Brian to work here. We’re all Oyster Bay High School graduates!”
FYI: Brian is a senior at OBHS and will go to NYIT after graduation. He was the stage manager of the OBHS production of Footloose the musical, that took place on March 30, 31 and April 1.
Another small business venue at Buckingham Village is Think Long Island First, run by Eva Rumprecht and Jolanta Zamecka. They sell lovely handmade items including pottery, woodworking, knitted and crocheted items, photographs and more.
They also are featuring Aran Island sweaters that are knitted by retired school teachers. That is very convenient for Jolanta since she is the grandmother of Stefan, 11 months old, the son of her daughter Monika Rynowiecka. Her daughter Karolina Zamecka is a young entrepreneur and owns her own business, Regal Carriage Inc., that rents out horse-drawn carriages for special occasions.
Mr. Imperatore is happy to see the hamlet turning a corner. “Walk around,” he said, “and you will see less empty stores.” Last year they added new tenants with Sweet Tomato; the Spotted Owl; and after Bonnie Boisits left Chase Edwards Gallery and went to work in Sag Harbor - that location at 15 East Main Street became Grayson Castles.
Soon the building behind the Oyster Bay Railroad Preview Center at 102 Audrey Avenue (north) will be occupied. It is entered via the small parking lot next to Town Hall West, and is nestled in a courtyard-like area. It will be a second location for John Castles of Grayson Castles – John will have a studio there, where he can do his creative work.
“If you go into Grayson Castles at 15 East Main, you will see old things, and things that look old but are created by John. My daughter is an Alice in Wonderland fan and I found a large size Alice in Wonderland watch there. If he doesn’t have it, he will find it or make it for you.
“I’ll give you a dollar if you don’t see something you like,” said Walter.
“Overall, it’s really nice. It’s been a bit of a trip to see how things are turning out, especially with the different events happening. I had a blast at the Chocolate Fair’s Wine and Chocolate event at The Homestead. There were also events at the local dance studios. There were over 40 participants involved in organizing the events at different locations.”
There’s a lot new in this little old hamlet!