By Taylor Hayes
Sayville N Spice held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday at its spot inside the former Thornhill’s Pharmacy building.
And for the first time in years, the first floor of 2 Main St. was bustling with retail activity.
“We want to bring something new to the community. We’re very family orientated,” said Lauri La Piana, who opened the store with her husband Matthew. “It’s been exciting but scary — we wanted to get this up and going.”
The La Piana purchased the building with the beloved neon Thornhill’s Pharmacy sign out front in early 2019. Matthew La Piana, an architect, gutted the place — upstairs and down. The couple soon set up offices upstairs for their existing businesses: hers, a court reporting business called Lighthouse Reporting Inc., and his, Building Restoration Consultants.
With their new store, the couple has certainly added some spice to their lives — and to the community — in the form of over 130 different spices and herbs to choose from. Additionally, the new store features sustainable shelving and displays designed by the La Pianas.
The La Pianas celebrated their milestone alongside Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce President Eileen Tyznar and First Vice President Ron Trotta, other chamber members, family and members of the community.
Tyznar said she’s thrilled the Thornhill’s space is open again for business and “thriving with all of these specialty stores and culinary delights coming to town.”
“I feel grateful that in a time of uncertainty, we could have another business open,” she added.
Matthew La Piana noted how Tyznar played an instrumental role in getting the business off its feet, and in helping the couple make every detail as nice as possible for opening.
“Eileen is more than just the president of the chamber of commerce. She’s become a friend,” Matthew La Piana said. “She’s the glue that bonds Main Street together. She puts her own sweat equity into each business to help them get off the ground.”
For a while, the La Pianas were hoping to find a tenant to operate a business on the first floor. Matthew La Piana mentioned how difficult it was to find a tenant to rent it out due to the difficult times brought on COVID-19.
Eventually, he said, they just decided to take manners into their own hands, creating a space that would “complement some of the other local businesses, like the Saville Chocolatier and The Crushed Olive.”
Trotta noted that it’s been impressive to witness how Main Street is reinventing itself.
“Thornhill’s has been a pillar in this community for years. Now, it’s repurposed as a spice place,” Trotta said. “It’s bringing in new business and new ideas, and it’s a way to be innovative during the coronavirus.”
The retail experience
As Lauri La Piana was attentively helping guests around the store, her husband noted how she gained her retail experience from a young age and that she enjoys creating gifts for people.
“Matt comes up with the ideas, and Lauri is the hammer. They never stop working,” said Richard Lewicki, Lauri’s step-father.
Everything in the store has been repurposed. The shelving is made out of repurposed herb crates; the furniture is made from Pallet wood, via Pallets R Us in Bellport. They use shredded cardboard as packaging.
“I am doing what-ever I can with the resources we have,” Matthew La Piana said.
Matthew La Piana mentioned how his work in architecture influences the way he runs his business.
“It’s a career that you never stop learning. When I took on this project, I just dove in and kept reading,” he said. “It’s the process I use for architecture, and it’s the process I use for this business.”
The power couple plans to eventually bring in local chefs and sommeliers to collaborate on pairing their spices and hot sauces with wine and cheese, potentially having a line of their own spice one day.
Sayville N Spice is open Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. On Sundays, the shop will operate from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Check out some photos from the ribbon cutting ceremony and inside Sayville N Spice: