The days of the five-and-dime variety store are all but over, the stores having been replaced by big-box chains across much of Long Island. But in Greenport, one entrepreneur is hoping to change that by reopening the historic Arcade Bargain Store.
“I remember shopping there as a kid, when I needed a Frisbee or an inflatable for the summer,” said David Akcay, a 27-year-old businessman and Greenport native. “One day it was closed, and I had to investigate.” Akcay knew the previous owner and offered to take over for him. “He wanted out, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to try to lift Greenport and bring it back. It’s like an anchor for the town, it’s a great thing.”
Akcay hopes to have the store fully functional for the busy summer season. “It’s open right now, but it’s not 100% yet,” he said. “We kind of missed last summer, because we were trying to get it ready, so hopefully this summer will be better.”
His vision for the Arcade is a store that will carry a variety of essential items so people won’t have to travel so far for the basics. “I want to bring it back to its glory days when it was the five-and-dime,” he said. “Something just to be convenient, so people don’t have to go to Riverhead to the big-box stores.” The Arcade will sell daily items like clothing, toys, summer seasonal items, and hardware. “Greenport is kind of geographically isolated,” Akcay said. “This town needs a place where you don’t have to go 20 minutes each way to find a pillow or
The Arcade has been in and out of business for more than 100 years, and Akcay is aware of the risks in opening it up again. “I’m going to run it a little more fiscally-responsibly and very tight,” he said.
“I’m going to keep costs and overhead low.” He’s confident that the convenience factor will draw customers from all across the town of Southold. “Distance wise, it doesn’t make sense if you’re just going out to buy a couple of things, because of your time, gas, wear and tear, and the risk you take. It ends up paying, even if you pay a couple of
While many people are opposed to the idea of big-box stores, Akcay knows they just won’t work in a town like Greenport. “Some of the more conservative people here were against Starbucks coming and things like that, but I’m more open to everything,” he said. “We just don’t have the population and we’re too seasonal, so a big guy would never try to come out here, because they would starve in the wintertime—it’s not worth their effort, their capital or their investment.”
Akcay is no stranger to running a small business in Greenport. The J & B Liquor Store on the corner of First and South Streets has been in his family since the ’50s. And if running a liquor store and reopening the Arcade weren’t daunting enough, Akcay has also opened an art gallery on Main Street this year
“It’s called Greenport Artists Gallery, and I have almost two dozen different artists,” he said. “I took some art history in college—I was a business major, but art was always something I’ve been attracted to.”
Dealing in art is quite a bit different from selling general goods, though. “It doesn’t take a lot, you sell one painting and it’s like $1,000,” he said. “It’s not like the five-and-dime, where gum is $2 and underwear is $5.”
The gallery features work from artists spread across Long Island and Manhattan, as well as some Haitian pieces that Akcay inherited from the previous owner. “Basically, they come here to show their work and have exposure, and hopefully make sales, and they pay me rent for the wall space, or I take commission,” he said. “My friends said I had real balls trying to open an art gallery in post-recession Greenport, but I’ve been enjoying it and we’ve been doing