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Jul 24, 2018 10:30 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pushy Sales Tactics Brings Unwanted Vibe To Southampton Village

A man in front of Walter Attaway on Jobs Lane tries to sell a product to people passing by. GREG WEHNER
Jul 24, 2018 1:37 PM

The streets of Southampton Village are famous for high-end retailers and spontaneous designer pop-up shops. A typical summertime stroll winds in and out of specialty stores offering unique treasures found only in places like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

What the experience is not known for is salespeople standing in the nooks and crannies of such shops and accosting passersby in an attempt to lure customers into their cubby holes—at least until this year.

One of the biggest complaints at Village Hall this summer has been peddlers standing in front of a few select stores promoting a skin care product, a facial nourishing night serum by “Lavelier.”

Because of the complaints, village officials are looking for ways to prevent an aggressive type of marketing in the business district, and are planning to hold a public hearing on the matter this week.

“Village Hall gets frequent phone calls about the issue,” said Deputy Clerk Eileen Musarra, who added, “It’s happened to me twice.”

Ms. Musarra said one day she had to put a parking permit on a vehicle that was parked just a couple of units down from Village Hall on Main Street, and as she walked back, a man “shoved a moisturizing pack” in her face.

The same thing happened to her on the last day of the U.S. Open. Ms. Musarra said she was walking on Jobs Lane, away from the shuttle at Agawam Park, when another man tried to promote the same product using the same technique.

The story is similar for many, according to Ms. Musarra and Southampton Village Mayor Michael Irving, both noting that the calls keep coming in from people who said they were chased away.

Mr. Irving said on Wednesday that the merchants all seem to be pushing the same product, a cosmetic facial cream. “It’s really a poor system of retail,” Mr. Irving said. “It’s a new form of retail.”

According to the mayor, stores are losing business because of the aggressive practice of going after pedestrians. Customers are chased down the street, and they leave out of frustration, he said.

One of the stores promoting the product is located where Walter Attaway, another pop-up shop operated last year, is wedged between Ralph Lauren and Dazzelle.

One of the men promoting the facial cream, who wished to identify himself only as Giovanni, said he is not breaking any laws, and compared his marketing to flowers placed on the sidewalk in front of a flower shop.

This is the first year that Giovanni has operated a pop-up shop in Southampton Village, but it is not the first time opening a shop for a short period to sell during the popular season. He said he was not worried about any laws being made to stop them from promoting the product on the sidewalk, because by the time it is enacted, he will be out of the area.

“I do what I have to because I am a businessman,” he said.

Village laws address peddling as hawking or selling products on the streets from a vehicle, but they have never associated the practice with pop-up boutiques—possibly, until now.

A public hearing was set to take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24, regarding an amendment to the law on peddling and soliciting within the village business district.

Mr. Irving said something needs to be done about the practice, though he does not think a law can be modified before the end of the summer season. “By the time we create a law, it would be in the fall,” said Mr. Irving, echoing Giovanni’s sentiments. “I believe the lease ends in September.

“We’re going to have to address that form of retail—and that will be done,” he added.

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Wait til someone punches him or knocks them the hell out. Then these sales jerks will cry. Do not walk up and throw something in my face because my first response is to protect myself by any means necessary.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Jul 24, 18 1:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
There is the same problem in East Hampton. A face cream store on Newtown - I literally cross the street to avoid walking by the store!
By wainscotter (18), wainscott on Jul 24, 18 2:47 PM
1 member liked this comment
They appear to have only been targeting the wrinkliest of passersby.
By Pacman (273), Southampton on Jul 24, 18 3:26 PM
The businesses nearby must be losing business themselves. I too cross the street or avoid businesses nearby just to steer clear of this annoying practice. And they'll try to stop you multiple times a day, even if you walk by just a few seconds later, same schtick.
By JCPA (13), East Hampton on Jul 24, 18 4:35 PM
This is what's known, in the vernacular, as a first-world problem.
By slotty (1), East Hampton on Jul 24, 18 6:59 PM
2 members liked this comment
Do that to me. And they'll need more than face cream.
By clamdigger (85), Quogue on Jul 24, 18 8:53 PM
Get over it
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jul 24, 18 10:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm with Slotty... People out east complain about the silliest trivial inconvenience. A person bothering them with skin cream?? That is enough to make someone cross the street?? If a skin cream salesman is enough to make you cross the street and the village government to hold a special meeting, then consider yourselves blessed. Southampton and East Hampton Village has turned into a Kardashian Styled theme park for the type of people who shop at "pop up shops."
Summer pop up shops equal empty ...more
By deelove (152), Bridgehampton on Jul 26, 18 4:42 PM
They are actually quite annoying but this seems like an overreaction.
By Carinthiajones (1), New York on Jul 28, 18 10:55 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By HappyHamptons (3), Sag Harbor on Aug 2, 18 11:37 AM
The mayor is incorrect. This is not a new or a poor kind of marketing. It is a well-established and highly effective form of marketing called "Product Sampling" (one can look this up online). Similar skincare retailers utilize this other extremely upscale shopping districuts as well -- Newtown in East Hampton, Lincoln Rd in Miami, Aspen, Worth Ave. in Palm Beach, etc. and the retailers are not bullied by the local towns. I also don't think it's such a deterrent from shopping. I personally will ...more
By HappyHamptons (3), Sag Harbor on Aug 9, 18 4:53 PM
Please also note that the biggest complainer owns a store next door to one of these skincare stores and happens to be the mayor's wife. No wonder why trying to come up with a new law to block product sampling is being made a priority
By HappyHamptons (3), Sag Harbor on Aug 9, 18 4:55 PM
It may be an effective marketing tool, it’s also a major annoyance if your a shop owner. If you have a shop you depend on foot traffic for sales. If you have some guy or woman hawking their product on the sidewalk, it drives away foot traffic. Reading the comments people just assume everyone is thin skinned and should get over it. The shop owners have a very small window to make money to carry them thru the yr. if these hard sell sales tactics cut into your bottom line you’d be angry ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Aug 9, 18 5:14 PM