For many second-home owners, the Hamptons has become synonymous with relaxation, luxury and ease. And to meet their expectations, new businesses seem to pop up each summer.The last few years have brought an influx of quirky, never-done-before services that might seem outrageous to the regular Joe, but a relief to someone who requires, and can afford, a little extra pampering. The bottom line: There is money to be made here, and those who can tap into the wants and needs of the wealthy can make a killing.
In 2011, Hamptons Free Ride took off, offering free rides to and from Main Beach in East Hampton Village while advertising its sponsors. Over the years, the business has expanded to Southampton, Florida and California. This year, the service is expanding to the Jersey Shore, according to co-owner Alex Esposito.
Furthermore, the shuttles will now let passengers take “selfies” or pictures of themselves while en route.
“I have sort of a unique stance,” Mr. Esposito said. “Our idea came from the Hamptons, whereas most other brands are attracted to the Hamptons because it is a great place to launch, since there is an influential audience and people in the area are from all over the world.”
Just this summer, Bandier, a store that offers fitness fashion and music in one place, moved into Southampton Village. Complete with a “bra bar,” customers can pick out the perfect, top-tier models of bras from around the world. The store, owned by Jennifer Bandier, also sells luxury fitness clothing to those who want to look glamorous while they work out and go about their errands. Ms. Bandier also sells Beats by Dre headphones.
Mostly, it seems, such innovative ideas come as a result of the influx of out-of-towners and their needs.
Need to get out to the Hamptons in a jiff? With a few taps on a cellphone, reservations or a seat on a helicopter can be made in just a few minutes. Blade, a new company with a cellphone application to match, offers one-way trips from Manhattan to the Hamptons, or vice versa, for approximately $500.
If there aren’t any flight times that work, a Blade user can launch his or her own charter flight for $2,950 and crowdsource the other seats, selling them back to the Blade community. The price paid to fly that way can be as low as a single seat.
And if a flight is grounded due to weather, Blade refunds the money and guarantees an escort in a waiting Maserati at the airport at no extra cost.
Don’t want to leave the house to pick up that vintage red wine or brandy? Drizly, a new company based in Boston, has a cellphone application that takes drink orders and works with local liquor stores to deliver them in 20 to 40 minutes.
Drizly started limited service in the Hamptons over Memorial Day weekend, according to Drizly’s senior vice president of marketing, Michael DiLorenzo.
“Think of us as a very modern fax machine,” he said. “We never touch a bottle of liquor, and we don’t touch a cent of the transaction. We make money by charging stores a monthly license fee. We look more like a marketing company for them.”
Since the region is less urban, and has heavier traffic in the summer than Manhattan, Boston, Los Angeles or Chicago, where the business is up and running, it will likely take an hour or so to deliver the alcohol, Mr. DiLorenzo said.
Once a customer launches the app and puts in a delivery address, Drizly connects them with a local liquor store’s entire inventory. When the order is placed, a driver from the store delivers the alcohol. Mr. DiLorenzo said the driver takes a photo using his cellphone of the patron’s driver’s license or ID card and checks their age before handing over the goods.
The region is considered an extension of the New York City marketplace. “The demographic, our customers, have a disposable income, and the crowd uses technology,” he said. “It’s also convenient. Out there, the mindset is around taking a load off and relaxing. We’re a lifestyle app for people who take their vacation there. Convenience and access are important to addressing the consumer that is tethered to their smartphone.”
Drizly will have some competition this summer with Minibar—an app that also delivers wine and spirits in two hours or less. It’s slated to start delivery on Friday, from Westhampton to East Hampton.
Minibar in the Hamptons is different, however, in that it requires a $100 delivery minimum. The app also features discounted cases of rosé, chilled upon request, and wines by the case.
Creators Lara Crystal and Lindsay Andrews, who have been visiting the area for years, said their customers in Manhattan come out to the Hamptons so they thought they should offer their service here, too.
Their spokesman, Damian Irizarry, said it’s a hassle to drive around doing errands while other plans are under way. “It really simplifies things,” he said.
Getting out to the liquor store on a busy summer day in the Hamptons is one thing, but scheduling a beauty appointment, trekking to the salon and waiting can be a real hassle for some, especially when there is a gala to attend. So why not bring the appointment to the living room or poolside?
David Benjamin, the CEO of Uber Beauty, said his new business does just that. The business launched in the Hamptons last week, and they’ve already had a good response from the community.
Customers can get their hair blown out at their home for $90, a haircut starting at $150, and highlights at $250. For a night out or a special day, Uber Beauty artists can apply makeup for $150. Many other services are there for the picking, too.
Mr. Benjamin, who said he has been coming to the Hamptons for years, said the point is to give Manhattanites the chance to be beautified without the hassle, and by well-known and talented stylists.
“I have friends who have homes here, and in listening to my clients in Manhattan and speaking with them about how they spend their summers, three hours is a pain to go back and forth, and throws a real wrench in their summer plans,” he said.
Uber Beauty currently has nine stylists from New York or Los Angeles who are sharing one house “like ‘Real World,’” the MTV show, according to Mr. Benjamin. “We had a really selective interview process for like-minded, very professional adult hairstylists who are living on top of each other.”
He said those traveling to and fro this summer should be on the lookout for hair and makeup stylists riding vintage scooters on their way to and from appointments.
Uber Beauty and other new services like Drizly and Blade work because of the convenience factor, he added.
“That’s why they’re thriving,” he said. “I’m true New York. I’m used to walking somewhere quickly. Everything shuts down in the Hamptons, and you have to realize you’re in the suburbs, and everything you drive to, there’s traffic. With a touch of a button, you can have everything come to you.”
Likewise, Blue Bug Yoga, owned by Samantha Heckert, offers “portable yoga,” where customers can arrange for Ms. Heckert to come to their homes or meet them at their beachfront for $150 an hour.
Ms. Heckert said, however, her prices vary depending on people’s circumstances, and she is willing to work with those who might have a hard time affording the $150. She said meeting customers at their home and not in a studio puts them more at ease and also can be a fun way to spend an afternoon—or a bachelorette party.
The 30-year-old said the Hamptons is an “anything goes kind of environment” that is seemingly friendly to new business.
“Everybody seems to be open-minded and love to try new things,” she said. “There are new restaurants and new stores, but what I’m excited about are so many of these businesses are run by young people, 35 and younger. In the next 10 years, we’re the ones who will be establishing businesses. They’re what’s next.”
Harley Decker is a twenty-something who is certainly one of these entrepreneurs who has staked his claim in the Hamptons business world. The Sag Harbor resident started Designate Me Drivers, which drives customers in their own cars wherever they like. This year, Mr. Decker will be adding a limousine service, airport and out-of-state transport.
Mr. Decker said his idea struck him when a few years ago his father’s clients called and asked him to drive their cars and “threw him a few bucks.” His father, Rich Decker, owns Studio 89 Fitness in Sag Harbor. He said more and more people are looking for a safe way to get around nowadays to avoid driving drunk, especially in the summer.
“It can’t get any busier than a summer in the Hamptons,” he said. “There’s definitely a large demand if you know how to capitalize on the market to the right people. There’s an abundance of wealth … it’s almost hard not to capitalize on that.”