Airport visitors will have the chance to explore a taste of what the East End has to offer by way of a 900-square foot retail boutique set to open later this month at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma (Town of Islip).
The store, called East End Getaway, is part of a major effort to promote the East End of Long Island as a tourist region. It will be operated by the East End Tourism Alliance, said Bryan DeLuca, the organization’s executive director. Mr. DeLuca, who is also the general manager of Atlantis Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in Riverhead, said the retail space is being leased by the aquarium.
A small portion of a $335,000 “I love NY” grant that aims to promote agritourism on the East End was used to fund the venture, Mr. DeLuca said.
Located near the airport’s atrium and baggage claim area, the shop is expected to open Oct. 22, Mr. DeLuca said, and will market the five townships that make up the East End — Riverhead, Southampton, Southold, Shelter Island and East Hampton.
In addition to selling standard tourist fare like t-shirts and hats promoting the East End, Mr. DeLuca said the shop will sell local food products and artwork from the region’s artists. Business owners will have the opportunity to promote their companies on 60-inch television screens positioned in the store and shoppers will be able to purchase tickets to area attractions like the Riverhead aquarium and Splish Splash waterpark, Mr. DeLuca said.
“When you think of when you land [at the airport] in Las Vegas, they have slot machines,” he said. “At Orlando, they have Disney and Harry Potter. I thought it was really important for our airport to know that we have some great regional assets — the vineyards, the golf courses and the beaches.”
The East End Tourism Alliance is also working with the New York State Liquor Authority so the store can sell wine from Long Island vineyards, Mr. DeLuca said.
From an architectural standpoint, East End Getaway seeks to capture travelers’ attention via a 15-foot fiberglass shark that appears to crash through the storefront’s entrance.
“We’re really making it a very cool attraction,” Mr. DeLuca said.
Steven Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, called MacArthur airport a “huge asset” that hasn’t been taken advantage of much in the past.
“This is another great opportunity for us to promote the region, not only for tourists flying in but also for commuters using that airport frequently to give them a better idea of what’s going on at the East End,” he said.