By Michelle Trauring
It’s almost official: Hampton Photo Arts has traded on up.
By the end of this year, the Bridgehampton Commons-based business will make its final move — with its massive printer and all — and shutter its longtime storefront for a bigger and brighter location in Southampton.
The move is less of a decision and more of a necessity — in one of the few places where a custom print, framing and arts supply shop can not only exist for 31 years, but also thrive.
“That artistic legacy is heavy out here, from Jackson Pollock to Willem de Kooning,” explained Erick Osbaldo Segura, who was recently manning the Southampton store, now open four days a week as of October 1. “The history was, and still is, there. It’s just about having somewhere for all these artists to group together, in a sense, even if it is just by buying a frame for their work to put into a show, or getting print-outs for their show. That’s where we come in.”
A resource for visual artists since 1986, Hampton Photo Arts began as a print shop, but its evolution into custom framing — thanks to the foresight of owner David McHugh and his son, Ben — has secured its longevity, according to Osbaldo Segura.
“Dave has always relied on word of mouth and providing quality work,” he said. “I had a gentleman in here right now who was just telling me he’s worked with Dave for a long time, for a number of years. Maintaining that customer relationship with people and providing the work that speaks for itself is helpful, and it’s helped in his case, but having that vision to come into custom framing sealed it.”
The trifecta lends itself to be an artist hub, as will the new location. Doubling the current space at nearly 2,800 square feet, its size comes with expansive white walls bathed in natural sunlight from the large front windows — the perfect space to showcase local talent, said large format printing specialist Franki Mancinelli, who is still working at the Bridgehampton location.
“The Southampton store is a really open space, which is nice, and it has a ton of wall space, which helps with hanging artwork and giving people the opportunity to promote their stuff,” she said of the new location, formerly home to Gubbins Running Ahead. “It still kind of feels like a shoe store because it’s got these little fitting rooms in the corner and these little weird quirks about it that kind of feel out of place.
“But it has a great wrap-around desk in the beginning and these nice wood floors, and it really is mostly about the space,” she continued. “We’ve gotten so busy, especially with the custom framing, that we just don’t have a lot of space left. We’re just literally running out of space here. For framing jobs, sometimes in the summertime, we just had stacks and stacks of framing, and it adds up fast, especially in our busy season.”
Even so, Mancinelli expects it will be hard to say goodbye this winter.
“We’ve been here for a long time now — the majority of the store’s life — so it’s gonna be sad to let it go, definitely,” she said. “But at the same time, we’re super excited for the new store, because it is a lot nicer. It’s a big upgrade from what we have now, and I think it will positively impact the store, and everyone who works here.”
As supplies are, slowly but surely, moved to the Southampton store, Osbaldo Segura said the transition period is the toughest. But he predicts that by next summer, “we’ll be doing much better.”
“Dave has always been a forward thinker, and I know Ben is anxious to get this store open — a little bit of fresh air, you know, since it’s a mom-and-pop shop being given down to Benjamin to run,” he said. “I think it’s a good fresh start for him. We outgrew the place in Bridgehampton, so it’s good to finally see us in a place where we can work even more efficiently.”
Hampton Photo Arts is now open at its new Southampton location, located at 21 Windmill Lane, from Wednesday through Saturday, while all print services remain at the Bridgehampton Commons store, located at 2044 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. For more information, please call (631) 296-8500 or (631) 537-7373, or visit hamptonphotoarts.com.