After more than seven years of calling Amagansett home, Gone Local, a gift and houseware store featuring items handmade by local residents, has opened its doors on North Main Street in East Hampton.
The move, although unplanned and unwanted, has proven to be well worth it for owner Susan Seitz-Kulick, who received notice just before last Memorial Day weekend from her landlord, Pat Trunzo III, that he had leased the Amagansett space to someone else and that she had 30 days to get out.
“I was in shock,” she said. “I’d been paying my rent on time the entire time, plus this man’s wife was a very good friend and former business partner.”
Thinking she’d have to leave just before the start of the summer season, she hung a sign on the store’s front door saying, “Gone Local is moving. Where?…We don’t know!”
It was the community’s reaction to the sign that showed Ms. Seitz-Kulick that “Gone Local” was more than just a store name.
“People were incredibly supportive,” she said, “offering to write letters, give me legal advice. Everyone out here always says the same thing—that people are cold and it’s a tourist town. But when something happens, whether it’s a tragedy either personal or professional, it’s so incredible how people rally together.”
After months of legal back and forth, Ms. Seitz-Kulick managed to stay in Amagansett through mid-September. She had no intention of leaving the hamlet. “Amagansett really lacked like a 5&10 store,” she said, “which is basically what we became, in addition to selling novelty stuff. But if you’re out here and you don’t have a car, there’s nowhere you can go pick up a toothbrush without getting a cab, so we really filled that void and I didn’t want to give that up.” Despite not wanting to leave Amagansett, Ms. Seitz-Kulick agreed to view the space that used to house Lucy’s Whey, a specialty cheese shop, on North Main Street.
“If I hadn’t liked our realtor, David Harry, so much, I would’ve never even gone,” she said. “I told my sister the entire way there, ‘There’s no way I’m taking this place.’”
But within a matter of seconds, said Ms. Seitz-Kulick, her mind was made up. “We walked in and the place was so charming that I said ‘Oh my God, what do I have to do if I want it right away?’”
Her former landlord, Mr. Trunzo, said this week that Ms. Seitz-Kulick had been a month-to-month tenant, but that he wishes her the best. “I hope her move went well and things are going well for her,” he said.
Less than two months after signing the lease in mid-October, Ms. Seitz-Kulick officially opened Gone Local in East Hampton after a whirlwind four-day move.
“I had all of my merchandise in my sister’s basement and I had no idea how I was going to fit it in this store because it was so much smaller than my space in Amagansett, but somehow, it all came together,” she said. The smaller space has helped her curate the store and includes more handmade specialty items, many of which are made by local businesses and people in the community. Among them is her son Ben, who designs and screen-prints T-shirts through his company, Bon Ink, a wordplay on Bonac.
Ms. Seitz-Kulick says she’s thankful to still be local without having to compete for rent with big-name stores like J. Crew or Lily Pulitzer that now line Newtown Lane and Main Street in East Hampton Village.
“All of the customers I had that are out here visiting say the same thing—‘We can get all that stuff any day, but we come out here for places like this,’” she said. “So we’re really looking forward to this summer’s season.”