Since news broke that longtime gift and furniture store, Accent on the Home, would be closing its doors once its inventory had been sold off, shoppers have flocked downtown to bid the establishment farewell and make the most of its final days. After nearly 30 years in the community, owner Brian Mercadante decided it was time to retire.
In 1990, Mercadante opened Accent on the Home after 20 years as a furniture salesman in department stores from Gimbels to Macy’s. He was ready to open up his own storefront.
Mercadante chose Glen Cove because he his family roots in the city. “My father was born here,” he said, “My grandfather came in 1900, when there used to be horses and wagons.” Much of his family still lives in the city and he wanted to be close to them.
The store first opened in a small storefront on the corner of Glen and Bridge streets and then grew in 1995 when Mercadante and his wife, Elizabeth, moved the business down the block, to its current, larger space, converting it from Bound General Store into Accent on the Home, which would eventually become a community staple.
In the beginning, the store didn’t even really have much furniture. It began carrying living, dining, and bedroom decor sets. He said that it was mostly just accented pieces — hence the name Accent on the Home.
Since then, the store has continued to thrive. “We evolved from more of a retail store to an interior design store over the years” says Mercadante, “That’s primarily where we were at the end, more interior design, more custom options for people who were a little more discerning and wanting to make choices and not just buy off-the-shelf.”
Mercadante wanted to focus on things people couldn’t find at larger department stores: “red British phone booths, leopard chairs, zebra chairs, sculptures and artwork of all kinds.”
After customers started asking them to do more, Mercadante and his wife started adding more to their inventory. “You have to learn to change and adapt to keep up with business,” said Mercadante.
Along with retails stores across the country, Accent on the Home also had to adapt to a changing world with the introduction of online shopping. “People used to shop,” Mercadante said. “Now they search. It’s a huge change.” He also said that people in specialty industries like home decor used to be the “go-to guys” when anyone wanted to know anything about furniture. After his 30-plus years of experience, he said, he was like “an encyclopedia Britannica,” of home furnishing.
In spite of the economy’s move to online retail, Mercadante said, “When you take care of your customers, they keep coming back,” he said, calling his customers the “actual life-blood of the store.” Accent on the Home’s reputation and relationships within the community helped keep it afloat while many other furniture retailers were disappearing.
When he decided to close, Mercadante sent letters to many of his longtime customers informing them of his decision and letting them know about the sale they would be having a few days prior to publicizing it last Thursday; a simple gesture of courtesy to his loyal patrons that exemplifies how Mercadante cultivated his customers’ love and appreciation over the years.
Glen Cove resident Denise Vickers said that Accent on the Home is “a hidden treasure in Glen Cove,” and added that her entire living room was furnished with goods from the store.
Her friend and fellow shopper Diane Poelker said she loved “all the little knick knacks” they sold and that “you can get great gifts from them.” Poelker also said that when she moved to Glen Cove she bought her couch from the store and had been “shopping here for years.”
Patricia Holman, the executive director of the Glen Cove Business Improvement District, of which Mercadante was once the Vice President, said she was sad to see the store close and considers it a big loss to the community. “Accent on the Home has been a local mom-and-pop shop and for decades and has been a cornerstone of downtown Glen Cove,” she said.
There are not yet official plans for what will be taking the store’s place, although the building has been sold. Holman remains hopeful for the future, and said that she is a “big believer in ‘when one door closes another opens.’ I look forward to seeing what new opportunities present themselves in that location.”
As for Mercadante himself, he feels the whole thing is bittersweet, but knew that it was time to move on. He hasn’t had much time to think about the future, he said. Getting the store’s final affairs in order has kept him busy. “It’s been like Christmas in July,” he said.
After he retires, Mercadante said he wants to pursue his other passions: golf, his grandchildren and travel.
He said that he wouldn’t go that far; he considers Long Island — particularly the North Shore — “the best place to live in the world.” He and Elizabeth have plans to move into one of the new Garvies Point condominiums when they are finished.
Until then though, he is working on clearing out the store. “Like the sign says,” he said, “Everything must go.” He encouraged people to come in and take a look at what’s left. To the community that has been on his journey with him, he said, “Thank you for a great 28 years.”