A dusty book found in the attic of one Lynbrook home has revealed that the Lyn Gift Shop has been in business for at least 80 years.
About 20 years after Mike McEnerney purchased his Harding Avenue home, he finally got around to cleaning out the collection of old books that the previous owners left behind in the attic.
"Somebody said don’t get rid of old books because years ago people didn’t trust banks so sometimes they put money in them ... atleast go though them," McEnerney explained at the Oct. 15 village board meeting.
And so he decided to flip through the books and although he didn't find any cash, he did happen upon piece of history. On the very first page of the first book he opened were the words: “Lyn Gift Shop, 13 Hempstead Avenue, Circulating Library." On the third page was a date stamp, indicating the book had been checked out on March 2, 1932.
McEnerney shared the book with Bill Gaylor, the current owner of Lyn Gift Shop and president of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce. Gaylor and his wife, Lillian, had purchased the gift and card store, now located at 11 Atlantic Ave., in 1987, but he wasn’t quite sure how long the business had been in Lynbrook.
The discovery proves that the store is "the oldest business in town going by the same name," Gaylor stated. (The hardware on Atlantic Avenue, now called as Miller's, may have been around longer, Gaylor explained, but it's name has changed over the years.)
But the book also spurred several questions including what happened to 13 Hempstead Ave? It no longer exists today.
For answers Gaylor turned to Lynbrook historian Arthur Mattson, who presented the findings of his “detective work” at last Monday's board meeting. Displaying two old photos of the Five Corners -- the intersection where Atlantic and Hempstead Avenues and Merrick Road meet in Lynbrook – including one taken in 1914 and another from 1930, Mattson showed that “a whole chunk of the building” that now stands on the corner, “was lopped off to widen the street.” This section included a bowling alley, a Woolworths store and 13 Hempstead Ave., the former site of Lyn Gift Shop.
When this was done, Lyn Gift Shop moved to 29 Atlantic Ave., now home to Unicorn Jewels, then across the street to 38 Atlantic Ave., which is where F&L Deli and Catering is located today. Here they had to contend with the noise of a dance studio above. Finally, in the late 1980s, Lyn Gift Shop moved into the former site of an arcade, which growing up Gaylor and his friends referred to as “The Itch,” and this is where they stayed.
“We are pleased to have been here for 80 years and try to be supportive of everything that goes on in the community, for-profit and non-for-profit,” said Gaylor who also thanked Lily, his wife of 51 years and partner of 25 years, the store manager John Norton, his sister Corinne Tegelman and Millie Kaplan.
Then, he and Lily accepted an award and certificate from Hallmark Gold Crown, which their son Judge William Gaylor and his wife Deborah presented. The award recognized the store for its 80 years in business and 67 years as a Hallmark retailer.
While presenting a citation from the village, Mayor William Hendrick joked, “I don’t know why such a fuss is made over a store that couldn’t pay its rent and [thus] moved around so much.” On a serious note, he told Gaylor, “You are a pleasure and your store is a jewel in Lynbrook, one of the best stores here.”
Senior Hempstead Town Councilman also presented a citation to the Gaylors on behalf of the Town, and brought with him citations from Nassau County Legis. Francis Becker and NYS Assemblyman Brian Curran.
Santino recalled the many times his mom brought him into the store as a boy.
“One of the stops with my mother was always Lyn Gift Shop,” he said. “It exemplifies the very best of small business … and the merchant community, which not only provides a great service but gives so much back. That can't be said for box stores, malls and certainly anything you find on the Internet.”
Santino added, “A lot have come and gone along Atlantic Avenue and throughout the business district, but one of the real pillars of strength, one of the constants you can always count on, is the Lyn Gift Shop.”