BookHampton opens North Fork store in Mattituck

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Measuring the height of young reader Cole Brigham, 10, store owner Charlene Spector makes him the first in the chain's "We Grow Readers" group. Young readers will be measured on future trips to the store.

BookHampton owner Charlene Spector has been eyeing the former Rudy’s coffeehouse at the corner of Route 25 and Love Lane in Mattituck for five years, believing it was the perfect spot for her BookHampton chain, which has had three South Fork stores for many years, to open a North Fork branch.

“We wanted to be in this store and every time, we missed it by five minutes,” Ms. Spector said about her efforts to lease the premises. “I thought it was the most insanely beautiful area,” she said about the North Fork and her desire to open a store here.

After Rudy’s proprietor Jim Ryan moved on several years ago, the property remained a coffeehouse for a while then became a Verizon cellular service outlet. Ms. Spector kept watching. A few months ago, she made her move to seek a lease at just the right time and secured the space for her bookstore.

The only mainstream full-service retail bookstore from Orient to Riverhead except for Burton’s Books on Front Street in Greenport, BookHampton opened its doors in Mattituck on Saturday at 9 a.m.

It was an opening with no great hoopla but plenty of customers from the moment the doors opened. “We’re supposed to have ‘grand opening’ signs,” Ms. Spector said, but whoever was supposed to hang them never got the job done, apparently. Ms. Spector shrugged off the oversight and talked instead about what’s important to her — books.

“We find people want real books and we’ve seen continually how much the community embraces what we do,” Ms. Spector said, unconcerned about competition that comes from digital books and on-line sellers such as Amazon.

She and her husband Jeremy Nussbaum now have four BookHampton stores — the other three are in Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Southampton. “It’s really about personal service; we have a real connection with our communities,” Ms. Spector said. She said she was convinced that local touch will bring customers in and keep them coming back.

“Let me know if I can make a good recommendation,” she said several times to customers, agreeing with one that a recent bestseller was disappointing.

The first customers in the door Saturday morning were Sonya and Walter Brigham from Southold and their children, Hayley, Cole, Quincy and Grady. They had already gone for a run, biked and then had breakfast at Love Lane Kitchen awaiting the store opening, Ms. Brigham said.

Before the children left the store clutching some new books, they stood against a post to be measured by Ms. Spector, becoming the first children to become members of the store’s “We Grow Readers” group. The store will track the heights of their young readers as they make future visits.

“Welcome to the North Fork,” Cutchogue resident and Brentwood librarian Edana Cichanowicz told the store’s staff. “It’s just such a wonderful place,” she said about the bright and airy space.

“We’ve been very excited” about BookHampton opening on the North Fork, said Janet Latham of Mattituck. “I used to work in publishing and it’s very sad for me to watch” bookstores closing.

“We all are readers,” Leslie Tuthill said about herself, family and friends, explaining why they are glad to see the new store on Love Lane.

The store will have five employees, all of whom have worked at one or more of the other BookHampton stores, said Chris Avena, general manager for the BookHampton group. Customers will find a wide spectrum of books, CDs, DVDs and board games, Mr. Avena said. The store will also order any books customers request that aren’t in stock.

The store is open seven days a week, Sundays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Cutchogue resident and Brentwood librarian Edana Cichanowicz welcomed BookHampton employees to the North Fork.
JULIE LANE PHOTO | First customers at Bookhampton on Love Lane were Walter Brigham and children Quincy, left, 6, and Cole, 10.