I stopped at Cornucopia on West Neck Road last week looking for a card.
While looking through the selection I began talking with proprietor Mary Lou Eichhorn about this Island gift shop that she keeps open every day.
“I have cards and gifts and locally made crafts and candles among other items,” the outgoing octogenarian told me, adding that she also carries a plethora of baby and wedding gifts as well as communion and baptism presents.
She said that she and her late husband Jordan opened the store in 1980.
“We came out to the Island for a rest after Jordan’s heart attack. The Pridwin seemed like a wonderful place to relax,” she recalled.
Mary Lou said that they loved it here so much they decided to look at houses. She had worked in real estate when they lived in Nassau County.
After looking for one day, they bought a house. This would be their retirement location. They also thought that a gift shop would be a good business to start, but they needed space.
“I remember going into the West Neck Market to get a sandwich and asking Mike Zavatto about the empty building behind his deli,” she said.
Mike told her that he was very fussy about tenants, but she and Jordan looked like they’d be O.K.
That’s where it all started.
“We had a grand opening with a clown and balloons,” Mary Lou explained, noting that after a while the store moved across the street and then to its current location near All Dogged Up and the Eagle Deli.
“This business keeps me very busy and I like it that way in my retirement,” adding that business has been very good this summer, and that she would like to keep working “as long as I am able-bodied enough.”
She said that Jordan was a deacon at the Presbyterian Church here. She worships there even though she’s a Christian Scientist.
Mary Lou is very proud of the locally handmade items she displays in the store.
“The local stuff saved us during the recession,” she said, adding that the handmade baby things and beach glass jewelry are all one-of-a-kind pieces.
“And I have a big following for my candles,” Mary Lou said with a smile.
She also boxes and wraps her gifts. It’s a policy that she and Jordan established 38 years ago. This service also exists at other Island shops.
“You don’t get that with mail-order,” Mary Lou noted, adding that she’ll probably stop working “when they have to carry me out!”