Our Favorite Shop

Visitors to the East End often giggle when someone mentions the Ladies Village Improvement Society in casual conversation. Sounds like a flashback to prewar Britain: Do the ladies specialize in marmalade boiling, bootie knitting, and the singing of patriotic songs? Of course you, dear reader, know better: East Hampton’s L.V.I.S. is a mighty institution that has for 123 years and counting represented the best of what a volunteer civic organization can be.

 In some ways, the L.V.I.S. functions as almost a shadow cabinet in the Village of East Hampton, swaying — in our view, almost entirely for the better — official government decisions on issues that have shaped not just appearances but the preservation of both its physical landscape and traditions. (Don’t believe it? Take a moment to Google how the village got its historic districts.)

In news that might sound less than momentous to those who like to chuckle about ladies’ organizations, the L.V.I.S. swung open the doors of its Bargain Box and Books thrift shop last week after a sparkling, extensive renovation. Here at the Star office, this was a Big Day. We have been among the Bargain Box’s most enthusiastic bargain-hunters since Ye Olde Days of the 1970s and ’80s, when Frank, the longtime friendly manager, presided over the upstairs-downstairs jumble at its earlier shopfront, farther north on Main Street (next to Pets Painted With Love). 

In recent years, we have been somewhat saddened about the closing of the children’s department and the raising of prices at “the Box,” and we feel it necessary to say that we hope the L.V.I.S.’s marvelous volunteers will remember those families in our community who might not be able to afford boutique prices and might not have other places to buy inexpensive clothes that are well made. But that aside, we have nothing but hosannas to shout in praise of the very smart-looking new renovation, and the mission of the organization and its retail arm. We are told that the Box can bring in many thousands of dollars in a given month to support the group’s mission of preservation, education, and, yes, beautification. Hats off to you, L.V.I.S.! Long may you rule.