Coming on the heels of a successful Memorial Day weekend, new Edgartown business owners expressed excitement for the coming season and the hope that they are helping to breathe new life into a downtown that has seen a good deal of commercial space turnover in recent years. The trend has not translated to empty storefronts; instead where one business moves out, another takes its place, and the retail landscape this summer is a lively mix of old and new.
One of those businesses is new only to Edgartown. On Winter street, Michael Hunter, owner of PikNik Gallery, reports that sales have gone well in his new Edgartown location. Mr. Hunter has owned PikNik gallery in Oak Bluffs for many years, where he sells fine art, clothing and accessories.
“I’ve in essence brought the mountain to Mohammed, since I already had Edgartown clients,” Mr. Hunter said. “This location is more convenient for them. Edgartown is such a great shopping community.”
In his new location, Mr. Hunter has tapped into an unexpected market — Oak Bluffs shoppers. “I had two different Oak Bluffs clients that made sizeable purchases,” he said. “They had never been to my location in Oak Bluffs. They told me I’m now one of their favorite stores.” He added, amused, “I guess I had to come to Edgartown to get an Oak Bluffs client. Cheers to a great summer. I think it’s going to be great.”
Next door, a well-lit room decked with bright seascapes catches the eye. Artist Heidi White, owner of Heidi White Gallery, just opened a gallery full of her digitally-colored photographs on Winter street in Edgartown. “I have my own way of revealing what I see,” Mrs. White said of the tropical scenes and marshy landscapes that she has rendered with intense color.
Mrs. White also reports a propitious opening. She’s already noticed that Vineyard shopping happens at a quicker pace, which pleases her. “A couple came in, spent 15 minutes and picked out four canvases, and asked if I could ship them to London. I was, like, of course! Things are moving fast here.”
Mrs. White speaks highly of her business neighbors, who welcomed her warmly when she moved in. “They are not just cordial,” she said. “They are super friendly, saying, we’re glad you’re here.”
Just a few doors down, Huckleberry Pink, a handmade soap and body products store in a corner of Nevin Square, opened last month. Co-owners Tanya Patnaude and Gwyneth Wallace craft all the store’s merchandise in a separate location on-Island. Though their products are not tested on animals, they are tested on their children. Ms. Patnaude and Ms. Wallace, neighbors on Huckleberry Road in Edgartown, have six and five children, respectively. Some of the soaps have bracelets, rings and even rubber snakes embedded into them, inspired by the 11 children of Huckleberry Road.
“We’re bringing the fun back to bath and body,” she said. Ms. Patnaude said business has been good, considering they just opened up shop. “We’ve had some great support from Islanders,” she said. “We are excited for school to get out.”
Recep Dinli says business is booming at Kissmet, a fine Turkish goods store on Winter Street. Just last week a couple from France bought a rug and shipped it back home. Mr. Dinli said this rug’s journey from Turkey to Martha’s Vineyard to France is best described as kismet, meaning serendipity or fate, a term he applies to his roundabout journey from Istanbul to Edgartown. (Mr. Dinli added an extra “s” to his store’s name to invoke “kiss.”) Turkish apple tea is brewed upstairs in the two-level retail space, where towers of handmade rugs accompany furniture upholstered with hand-spun hundred-year-old carpets. Downstairs, ornate glass lanterns catch customers’ eyes as they drive by.
Mr. Dinli’s wares took six weeks to reach the Vineyard by boat, and not one item, even delicate plates handmade by schoolgirls in Turkey, was damaged along the way. He said he appreciates the Vineyard customer, who he says has a natural appreciation for one-of-a-kind pieces.
“East Coast people are better educated,” he said. “They’ll come in and say, ‘Oh, I was in Turkey last year,’ or ‘We were in Turkey two years ago.’ This is the perfect place to be.”
J. Mclaughlin, a clothing store, moved to Main street after closing its shop on Dock street. The move has nearly doubled their retail space.
Arianna, a luxury skin care shop on Winter street, got a new name (it was formerly Almora), a renovated space, and a new line of products — Dead Sea bath salts in the shape of cupcakes.