Ron Meyer loves his job. The 60-year-old Village resident has had his fill of retail management; from a south shore record store with his brother in the ’80s to big box companies – Targets, Best Buys, Linen and Things, Old Navy in Manhattan – to Value Drugs in Greenlawn, he’s done it all. When a Covid-related layoff pushed him out of retail, he decided to explore other options. He was tired of working for other people. He wanted to go out on his own.
This weekend, Ron and his girlfriend Randi Gothelf will celebrate their one-year anniversary as owners of Artisan House, a Main Street gift store staple that’s been around for 50 years. “We have a really nice built-in clientele,” Ron said of the three generations of families who visit and shop at Artisan House. “People come in, they’re excited about the store, they love what we’ve done with it, they love the fact that we kept it going.”
Three years ago next month, Ron and Randi moved from East Northport to their current home on Church Street in Northport Village. “We always used to come down here. We always loved it,” Ron said of the couple’s many visits to Main Street prior to their moving there. With his retail mentality still alive and well, Ron would see empty storefronts and try to imagine what they could be. He and Randi humored some ideas and then, while walking home from the farmers’ market one Saturday, saw a sign in the-then Artisan House window. “Business for sale after 49 years,” it read.
“Maybe this is what I was supposed to do,” Ron said. He spent two weeks with the shop’s longtime owner, Kathi Kitts, before he received the green light from her to take over. “She wanted someone who put their heart into it,” Ron said.
A true turnkey investment, Ron and Randi didn’t have to change much when they took over – and they didn’t want to. Their intention, Ron said, was to honor what was there before while fine tuning the store for the needs of today. “We took what Kathi did and made it our own,” he said. He and Randi have expanded the baby clothing and jewelry sections, added fixturing and more display grids. They still live up to the store’s time-honored tagline, “Unique gifts for the heart and home,” Ron said, they’re just the “2.0 version.”
And it’s working, both as a career choice and a lifestyle choice, Ron said. He can walk to work if he wants, stroll around at lunch, cap off an evening with a show at Engeman, or a concert in the park. “It’s just a different way of life,” he said. “Down here, it has all the right elements. It’s a nice place, it’s not too big, it's a Main Street, you’ve got the waterfront, boaters come in, the theater, soon to have the hotel. I never worked anywhere where people were consistently nice – because it’s one-on-one in a place like this. It doesn’t feel like a job.”
Artisan House’s 50- and one-year anniversary celebrations will take place today, October 29 and Sunday, October 30, and will include sales and raffles to show appreciation for the shop’s loyal customer base. Come get your one-on-one time this weekend or whenever the store is open, which is often; check online for the latest hours or call 631-261-3800. Artisan House is located at 80 Main Street in Northport Village.