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Howie Waldman is the longtime owner of the Jamesport Country Store (Photos by Lilly Parnell)

The Jamesport Country Store is hard to miss. If you’ve driven along Main Rd. at any point in the past 50 years, you most likely noticed the red brick building and pebbled driveway, strewn with eye-catching vintage signs, and an old pickup truck and gas pump out front. 

This past July marked the fifty-year milestone for the iconic store, which has become home to a collection of a little bit of everything. From retro Christmas decorations to old-fashioned candy, and hundreds of antique signs, the store is a one-stop-shop for unique gifts and souvenirs. 

“Our motto is we play host to local and traveling folks for all their gift-giving needs,” said Howie Waldman, longtime owner of the store. 

Waldman’s mother, Eleanor Waldman, opened the doors to the now iconic country store in 1973, selling many of the same eclectic goods available today. The 100-year-old building was originally a switching station for an old phone company and other than removing the switchboards, not much else about the building has changed since its construction.

Eleanor passed away in 1983 and her employees took over operations of the Jamesport Country Store until Walman, who was a funeral director at Frank E. Cambell’s in New York City at the time, could retire and move to the North Fork.

“I moved in 1989 and decided to raise my family out here,” said Waldman. “My kids grew up in the store, playing hide-and-seek. Now, when they come home they still help me and work in the store. My grandson will help me out in the shop too when he visits– making him the fourth generation to work here.” 

With an affinity for all things vintage, Waldman continues to collect a variety of old motel and advertising signs and sell them alongside the other souvenirs in the store. To this day, he makes frequent trips upstate New York and to Pennsylvania, even traveling as far as Wyoming to scout for new merchandise. 

Other than the signs, the Jamesport Country Store boasts plenty of local goods. The small store is home to a wide selection of pickles, soy wax candles, jams made with farm-fresh berries, books, paintings, jewelry, blankets, and pottery which are all created by North Forkers. 

“We like to support our local artisans through our store and share their great products,” noted Waldman. “I love getting to talk to people all day. The North Fork has changed in a lot of respects, it has become a destination. I think it’s pretty cool that I now get to meet people from all over the world.” 

Waldman’s passion for his community is evident in his work both inside and outside of the shop. He worked as an EMT for 25 years and served as chief of the Jamesport Fire Department for several years. In 2014, his love for the community was acknowledged when he received Firefighter of the Year after saving the lives of two people on separate occasions.

“I believe in being involved in the community,” said Waldman. “People are very nice out here, even when they are just visiting. I enjoy everything about working in this store, it is my whole life. I’m proud when I tell people we’ve been open 50 years.” 

Waldman has no plans to retire from the store anytime soon. The store continues to be open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and most days, you can find Waldman at the register, happy to help you find the perfect North Fork gift. 

The Jamesport Country Store is located at 1299 Main Rd, Jamesport.