The more some things change, the more some things remain the same. That is the case of the Variety Store in Sag Harbor, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Lisa Field, owner of the Sag Harbor Variety Store and President of the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce, is extremely elated because on Sunday, November 1, the Variety Store will actually be celebrating the milestone from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. with prize giveaways and chances to win $5, $10, and $50 gift certificates. Field said they wanted “to do more, have a big party” but due to COVID had to scale back the plans to keep things orderly and safe.
In an interview with Hamptons.com, Field shared both some of her memories and a look into the future. If you haven’t ever been in the 5 & 10 Variety Store, located at 114 Main Street in Sag Harbor, you are missing an opportunity to both walk through a pure sample of authentic Sag Harbor “Americana,” and perhaps see and find some items you may surely need. As Field said during our phone interview, “We have well over 20,000 items, and we have been dealing with some of our suppliers for over 40 years.”
“We are really excited. November 1st is going to be the 50th anniversary of my parents opening the store in 1970, that was when they purchased the store. The store had been a Ben Franklin Variety Store and it had been in the town since 1922. It was owned by a gentleman named E.L. Hanson. When Mr. Hanson got to the point where he wanted to retire after 48 years of ownership, he put the business up for sale, and my parents, who were young, they were in their 20’s and they had three kids, but they decided let’s try it!”
Field explained how her dad, “Left the Bulova Watch Company to buy the business. The bank would only lend him the money to buy the business from Mr. Hanson. Mr. Hanson said to dad he would only sell the business if dad bought the building too. Since dad did not have the money, Mr. Hanson lent dad the money and he paid him back.” Field then jubilantly said, “As we know now, buying the building was a great thing to do.” Then she said, “Mom and dad knew nothing about retail. At first, it was tough, but after a while they got the hang of it. I grew up working there. To this day, I hire young fourteen-year-old boys and girls to work at the store, I know they can do it, I did it at their age – so I know how to train them.”
“Sadly, my dad [Phil Bucking] has passed on, but my mom [Rose Bucking] still comes in and works. I won’t tell you how old she is, but I can tell you she puts in a full day and is great with the kids who work there.”
Field confirmed that on the wooden floor, within the nine aisles is everything from those toys the children crave to the Tupperware we all need – plus whatever else one may need is always there to be found.
When Field was asked about the historic 5 cent Pepsi sign, along with the Hostess Cupcakes 2 for 5-cents sign, she proudly revealed, “Yes, they are still there, as they were when mom and dad bought the place in 1970.”
Now, a peek into the future, even though the work is hard and the land and building are worth millions, Field said there are no plans to sell the business in the foreseeable future, and for the folks of Sag Harbor, that is great news.