Near Main Street, from the sidewalk of Washington Street, a small shop emanating a holiday glow and warmth invites passerby to escape the winter chill. Inside just 425-square-feet, Sag Harbor’s near.main tops tables and stacks shelves with an eclectic mix of functional giftware. Sourcing from local and global artisans, owner Annmarie Gallo stocks home décor and culinary tools, primarily tabletop items. In the thick of the celebratory season, she shares what makes a beautiful, timeless, and purposeful gift.
“It’s a fairly eclectic mix of products,” Gallo says, citing ceramics, glassware, mirrors, trays, and more as her various wares. “I always kept in mind that when you have discretionary income and you’re asking people to part with their money and make a choice, it needs to make sense. When I buy a gift or purchase for myself, if it’s functional I feel even happier about it. I wanted to plant the seed that it is functional giftware that people will use, enjoy, and appreciate for a long time.”
Thirty years in retail, including 24 years at Bed, Bath, and Beyond when it was still a small, privately owned company, Gallo’s expertise in consumer goods is extensive. She began as an assistant buyer with what is now a major North American retailer, and left as the director of merchandising for ecommerce. Along with her husband, Jeff Drubych, and their children, Gallo has lived in Sag Harbor for more than 12 years. She’s wanted to open a place of her own and in September 2017, one became available. That December, near.main opened.
As for how the name near.main came to be, the story is serendipitous. “I’ve been in business a long time and with Instagram I follow certain people that are competitors,” Gallo says as large brands often serve as inspiration without directly competing with her own business. “I was under my personal profile, and wanted to change it. But I am not that clever, so I did a scramble of my own name and near.main came up so I took it. Three weeks later the space became available and it was literally right near Main Street. It was perfect.”
Among near.main’s inventory are uncomplicated, yet thoughtfully designed pieces. Reflective silver bowls and chip and dip serving trays by Beatriz Ball of New Orleans work as casual dinnerware or dress up for holiday gatherings. Provence Platters’ wooden serving platters accented with metal handles are a multi-functional gift, perfect for the holidays or for the hostess.
This season, glassware is particularly prominent on Gallo’s list. Contemporary glassware company Nude designs collections for modern living. For whisky lovers, substantial and heavy-bottom sculpted glasses and simple yet bold whisky bottles make a strong statement. Glassware for wine lovers come in a variety of styles for red and white, digestives, and aperitives, both stemmed and flat-bottomed. As it is the season for toasting, Gallo has an affinity for Champagne glasses.
“Flutes and champagne saucers, which are a coup shape, are multi-functional,” Gallo explains, likening coups to “The Great Gatsby.” “I really love glassware. When you hold it, depending on the weight, shape, body, it makes you feel a certain way. When you hold a Champagne saucer you know it’s something special… and it’s reasonably priced.”
To live in Sag Harbor and also be a proprietor has been a dream for Gallo. A strong sense of community has been carried over into the store by Tia Greene, who is the founder of Liebe PR and manages near.main on a daily basis. Having spent a lot of time trying to curate what she believes the community needs, Gallo aims to satisfy a void rather than compete with other merchants.
“We greatly respect the other merchants,” Gallo explains. “Sag Harbor, and the Hamptons in general, is a destination for homes and homeowners. I wanted to contribute to that.”
Just for the holiday season, near.main will offer gourmet gift baskets at various price points among other functional giftware items. The store is located at 11B Washington Street, Sag Harbor.