The Oldest Department Store in America

Finding special places to visit is one of the main goals of Astrid Solo Travel Advisor. On my Miami to Maine solo driving adventure, I enjoyed discovering the uniqueness of the 12 places I visited.

On my first day in The Hamptons, I noticed a distinctive shopping venue, Hildreth’s, the oldest store in America. I was fascinated by the store’s longevity and, of course, I had to go in and see what made this store special.

Two brothers, Richard and Thomas Hildreth, left England for a better life in America in 1635. They settled in the East End of the Hamptons and became one of the earliest cattle ranchers in the area. After several generations of Hildreth famers, Henry Hildreth opened the first general store in Southampton in 1842 located at 51 Main St, the same location the shopping emporium is housed in today.

At the time, local residents shopped at there to buy food staples, housewares and dry goods. Hildreth’s built it’s early business on a tradition of good service, quality merchandise and friendliness. These first two photos depicting the humble beginning of this Hamptons institution can be seen at the Rogers Mansion museum in Southampton.

Hildreth’s saw the need to expand their business in the 1940s and began offering home furnishings for the growing population seeking second homes in the area. Fine linens, moderns housewares, furniture and household accessories were added to its inventory.

Today, Hildreth’s is the place to shop for all of your home interior and exterior essentials. French linens, distinctive decorative pillows, fabrics and sewing necessities, locally made specialty soaps, and a wide array of gifts are some of the popular items found there. For those who love to cook and entertain, the extensive selection of dining place services and cookware are wonderful. The “hostess with the mostest” will not have to fret with Hildreth’s nearby.

Hildreth’s also offers a wide selection of children’s clothing, toys, gifts and even furniture, all top quality items. One of the cutest furniture pieces I spotted was a child’s beach chaise lounge with matching sun umbrella, very Hamptons

For 173 years and 13 generations, Hildreth’s is still going strong, an impressive testament in this day with the popularity of online shopping. This classic emporium still has its original front door and wood flooring which gives the customer a sense of history and tradition. One of the most appealing aspects of Hamptons culture I experienced was the importance of old things juxtaposed with modern and contemporary ideas.

Enjoy this video and further discover why Hildreth's is the oldest, still popular department store in America.

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