Emerging and local brands have a force behind them trying to make things happen. From concept to production, packaging to sales, there are many moving parts that get a product into the hands of the consumer. But the reality for many small businesses looking to get into retail is that it’s tough. In a somewhat serendipitous meeting, by way of Instagram, Sunswell and Fair Harbor have gone from a DM to partners in just 20 days as they open Sag Mercantile, a lifestyle store embodying everything they love about the village and community.
The concept had been there for a while for Sunswell founders Carrie O’Brien and her husband, Craig. They had sold their menswear essentials taking guys from the beach to dinner out, as well as hats and totes women love, too, online, at the Sag Harbor Farmer’s Market, a pop up at The Beacon and a sidewalk pop up market, but a sense of permanence was something they had yet to achieve on their own.
O’Brien received a call from an old neighbor that owned a building on Washington Street. “She asked if we wanted to have a shop,” she recalls. “She had this space last minute. We brainstormed brands we thought would be fantastic. Some we knew, some we didn’t. Fair Harbor is the other house brand that will be here all summer. People always asked us if we heard of them, then we reached out on Instagram.”
The rest is, a very short, history. The O’Briens made a connection with the brother and sister duo, Jake and Caroline Danehy, outside of social media, and found the two brands’ philosophies were in alignment. Fair Harbor offers men’s and women’s sustainable swimwear made out of recycled plastic bottles.
“When we got the message from Sunswell to partner on this concept, it was a no brainer,” said Fair Harbor founder Jake Danehy in a press release. “We look forward to building a community out east, and to inviting people to be part of our mission to mitigate the use of single use plastics and keep our waterways clean.”
Sunswell, founded in Sag Harbor, and Fair Harbor, which was founded in New York City, will both be housed in Sag Mercantile, which will also feature a rotation of other brands that elevate the beach lifestyle, such as Almond R Series surfboards made of recycled materials, Rise Fishing Company rods, a curated collection of locally inspired books from Finley’s Fiction of Shelter Island and original photography by Mark Schafer.
A place to connect and gather, Sag Mercantile was built out by the partners with help from the local community. An interior design pal helped create a “chill zone” where people can connect and gather, with cream couches and comfy, colorful pillows in yellow and blue, pulling from Sunswell’s logo. A projector in this space will show fishing and surf films, with Rise fishing rods on display. Schafer’s art will hang on the walls of the light and bright space. The idea is to extend beyond retail offerings, sharing their company culture with the community. The shop will host various workshops like fly fishing demonstrations, surf swaps and even oyster shucking workshops.
“The goal of Sag Mercantile is to really showcase what we love about the East End,” O’Brien explains. “There are so many reasons we made this our home. Beaches, fishing, eating local seafood, farmers, all those things that draw so many of us out here. This is where our hearts are.”
Open as of Memorial Day weekend, Sag Mercantile will be in place through Labor Day. They aim to extend beyond the veritable Hamptons season, as one knows there’s much to be enjoyed well into even the coolest winter months, and venture into a year-round business. The shop is located at 17 Washington Street.
Learn more at @sagmercantile