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Oct 25, 2017 10:02 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Lee Jewelers In Sag Harbor To Close After 12 Years

Lee Elliot of Lee Jewelers showcasing some of his merchandise. KYRIL BROMLEY
Oct 30, 2017 10:28 AM

Lee Jewelers of Sag Harbor is going out of business.

The jewelry store at 42 Main Street will be shutting its doors after 12 years in the village. The shop features hammered disc and wire jewelry hand-crafted by its owner, 71-year-old Lee Elliot, and his 29-year-old daughter, Dori, who designs beaded and wire-wrapped gemstone pieces.

While he would not say specifically when the store would close, Mr. Elliot noted on Monday that his landlords, the Virgo family, are allowing him to stay open through Christmas.

Mr. Elliot is “not totally energetically” looking for a new location, he said, as the store’s major closeout sale has been keeping him busy.

“I don’t know what we could afford today,” the jeweler said. “Over the last two years, I’ve accumulated debt, mostly to pay the rent. The rent hasn’t made any jumps, but it has been creeping up.”

Mr. Elliot has a long history applying his touch to the shiny pieces that are eventually displayed on his customers’ fingers and necks. He started crafting and selling jewelry in the 1960s when he was a teenager in Greenwich Village, and had his first display a mere six months after graduating from high school.

In 1988, Mr. Elliot moved from Greenwich Village to Southampton, where he operated his own store for more than 15 years. He said he enjoyed Southampton back then, when it had fewer chain stores and was more a “mom-and-pop village” like Greenwich Village. That changed over time, he said.

“Southampton was closing at 6 o’clock in the middle of the summer season,” Mr. Elliot said. “Sag Harbor had people on the sidewalk in this friendly village that was open in the evenings during the season, which is more of my style. Sag Harbor was a much more people-friendly village.”

Mr. Elliot said he enjoys making small talk with people in Sag Harbor, calling it “one of the joys of retail.” While he notes that Sag Harbor is becoming more “uppity” than when he first opened his store, he still enjoys what he does.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I love being creative with jewelry designs, I love waiting on customers, I love the design of the store and the restoration I’ve done to it. We’ve developed friendships with our customers and it saddens me to have to leave all of those factors.”

One piece of Sag Harbor’s culture can be seen in Mr. Elliot’s nautical jewelry. He said one of his most popular designs begins with picking up seashells on the shore in Sag Harbor, and then casting them in gold. He noted one particular fan of the design: Academy Award-winning actress Julie Andrews, who he said has been a repeat customer.

“I remember the second time she came in when I wasn’t looking and she just said, ‘Hello, Lee—it’s Julie!’” he said. “It warmed my heart.”

While he said he didn’t know what will happen in the building after his store closes, Mr. Elliot said he hopes that Schiavoni’s Market will be able to open a cafe in the space.

“I hope we can avoid having more of those yuppity shops,” he said.

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Unfortunately, a sign of the times!
By MelissaA (52), Sag Harbor on Oct 25, 17 10:44 AM
Lee and my husband fashioned my wedding ring together - he's a talented and really interesting guy. Very sad to see him closing. Wish I could afford to go buy a ton of his stuff -
By PineNeck Dio (10), Southampton on Oct 25, 17 11:59 AM
Very sad indeed to see him close up shop - he has the best stories too!
By rosesgrove (4), Southampton on Oct 25, 17 12:31 PM
With the price of rents in these towns, it is hard for shop to open.
By capt rich (12), Southampton on Oct 26, 17 8:49 AM
Dori and Lee are both very talented artists and wonderfully ethical and community-minded people. Their iconic store will be dearly missed.

By angelvoice (1), Bridgehampton on Oct 30, 17 11:32 AM