In the last two weeks, many people have left their primary residences to come ride out the Coronavirus in their Hamptons summer home for a myriad of reasons – such as space, privacy or even luxury. A Hamptons summer home always has something that needs to be fixed, something that wasn’t fixed right and something that can never be fixed, just replaced. Now the homes are serving as a fortress against the unknown. Hopefully the homes are tall enough and safe enough places to quarantine.
Over the years I have had the pleasure of knowing many Hamptons summer homeowners. They have ranged from young financial wizards, married professionals – both with or without children, widow and widowers, musicians and, of course, retirees. One common thread was always pride in their home. It was a trophy of sorts, a prize in life that they really treasured.
Now, at this moment in time, the big moneyed, second/multi homeowners have begun to flex their mighty financial muscles, panic buying everything from choice meats to $500 per bottle wines, spending thousands at a time. This is occurring as local waitresses/waitors, bartenders, hostesses and small business owners are out of work or closed down. Just when many local folks are being stretched by the national emergency due to the Coronavirus, they hear the boom from the helicopters, private jets, and the huge black SUVs with drivers that are arriving, bringing what I call the “multi homeowners.” Multi homes means a huge apartment in NYC, a ski home in Aspen, and something quaint in south of France or in Northern Italy or even perhaps Greece. One bank in East Hampton reported a customer wanted to withdraw over $50,000 in cash. He wasn’t alone, there were others requesting well over $10,000 worth of “walk around money.”
Next, chic food stores have folks buying as much as $8,000 of food at the checkout counter. Liquor store owners are actually bragging about sales numbers higher than the summer.
All of this is happening while some local folks are making decisions on what to do with their last dollars. Proudly they have been organizing food banks, free Montauk fresh fish and things of this nature. It is a tale of two Hamptons, one where it is always the best of times, the other not so much, but as a tight local community who will step to the plate to help one another in a crisis such as now.
There are reports of many people behaving not like in a quarantine, but in a new annex to the summer season, walking the town and crowding up in popular places and putting everyone at risk of the Coronavirus going around. I hope the worst doesn’t happen. Usually in my life time it never has – except for those who died in all these situations. Those deaths numbers eventually will contain someone who we know and care about. Be smart, be safe and be prudent.