22 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • DECEMBER 2018
A CHELSEA MARKET-INSPIRED OUTLET BLOOMS IN NORTHPORT
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Inside the store various crafters,
artisans and vendors were greeting
new arrivals, chatting casually, offering
coffee and snacks. Shoppers
passed among the artisanal foods,
knitted hats and clothing, floral
arrangements, photographic prints
and paintings of local scenes.
The line at the store’s single cash
register — management handles sales
so individual vendors don’t have to
— stretched toward the back. People
chatted with their neighbors while on
line beneath a collection of paintings.
A scenario like this you don’t see
that often. It recalls the days before
shopping mall domination and online
retailing hammered downtown
For nearly a century the 3,100
square feet of space had been Ingerman’s
Department Store, a Norman
Rockwell-ish place of pressed-tin
ceilings and oak floors. Times
changed. Ingerman’s moved out, a
variety store moved in. The variety
store closed. Last October Donna
and Tony Moschella moved in with a
new concept. Instead of leasing space
and filling it with merchandise, they
leased space and filled it with vendors
The idea came to Donna, a former
retail buyer, after a visit to the Chelsea
Market in New York about a decade
ago. She saw how shoppers enjoyed
the experience of being in the
market, rather than simply making
transactions. Donna had changed
careers, built up a medical-billing
business, then sold the business and
retired. Tony was planning to retire
as a school psychologist in Queens.
The Moschellas sold their home in
Dix Hills and moved to Northport,
drawn by the harbor community’s
vibrant downtown and waterfront.
They moved in just before Hurricane
Sandy. Despite that, Northport
seemed the perfect place for the
market she envisioned.
“I never had to recruit vendors,” Donna
says. “People heard what I was doing,
and approached me to be part of it.”
Judging from the turnout for the
one-year anniversary, the Nest is
thriving. What exactly are they doing
I spotted at least two main things.
One is fostering cooperation among
the vendors, whom Donna calls
“If I have a mantra, it’s cooperation
over competition,” Donna says.
“Whenever a nester promotes something
new on social media, they use
the Nest hashtag. Everyone shares
their news with everyone else’s
The Moschellas have also positioned
their market as The Great
Good Place as described in Ray Oldenburg's
book — the kind of community
center Martha Stewart might run if
she were to let her hair down.
“The Nest brings people together,”
says Donna. “There’s a
tremendous sense of community
in Northport and we help add to
that.” Their son Michael works in
the store part-time.
I spoke with Krishtia McCord, who
with her mother Mary Schlotter owns
Harbor Homestead & Co., a floral and
event design business. They’re one
of three mother-daughter pairings
in the Nest retail scene.
“I heard about them through word
of mouth,” McCord says. “Donna had
put out flyers on Main Street talking
about opening a market for local
makers and artists. My mother and
I decided to take a little space. It’s
worked out great.”
She estimates their approximately
70-square-foot space produces more
than $1,000 in revenue a month.
Northport’s Deputy Mayor Tom
Kehoe is a big fan.
“They’re doing very well and I’m
just delighted,” he says, noting that
the vibrant downtown bolsters property
“Retail is challenging irrespective
of where you are,” he adds. “Retailers
all around the world are struggling.
There are a number of reasons, but
the big one is the Internet. There
has been a tremendous increase in
Internet sales. Communities need
successful retail on Main Street to
thrive. Stores like Nest on Main keep
downtowns vibrant, doing just what
Crocheted hats and crafted accessories are popular winter selections.
Furnishings and home décor greet shoppers entering from Main Street.