Melbamar was the brainchild of Mel Fante. The emporium by the sea was many of the names it was called. A boutique for the discerning Pines clientle. Filled with everything unique it was a mainstay in the Pines where one could find the perfect gift . Owned by Mel Fante the high-living Vice President of Design for American Airlines, Fante epitomized the wealthy cohort of jet-setters that was drawn to the Pines in the golden age of the 70’s in the Pines. His own taste is what propelled Melbamar from a local store to the Bloomingdales of the Pines.
Like the store his home at 616 Shore Walk reflected that high level of taste. A rendering done below by architect William Murphy who’s card drawings were sold at the store. The store was designed by the Architectural firm: Louis Muller William Murphy Architects Louis Muller was a summer resident at Fire Island Pines from 1965 till the time of his death in 1996. The firm also designed the Sandpiper and designed and remodeled several houses in the Pines.
Sandpiper Fire Island Blvd & Cedar Walk. By Max Murphy.
616 Shore Walk.
Interior designer David Napoli ( Mel Fante’s partner) created a luxurious sexy vibe with sleek white formica accented with red with a minimal furnishings allowing for dancing and drag performances.
Architectural rendering by Christopher Rawlins.
With only about 400 square feet of space Melbamar carried a varied amount of products. 1,999 of them included a 24 Kt. toothbrush, a stuffed panther, and mosquito tent/ netting for one. Manager Jim Peters and assistant manager/buyer/ merchandiser Bob Lisi worked hand in hand so that the physical space limitations worked for them as opposed to against them. Together they put together an inventory that reflects the diverse tastes and moods of the customers. As the season progressed they would add or delete items to reflect the changing moods and trends.
Rockshots was a provocative series of postcards that were part of the unique inventory..
Products were made specifically for Melbamar included matches , notepads, and games. Other unique items included: Louis Vuitton paper shopping bags, light-up dog collars, genuine leather whip,Godiva chocolates, and the unusual assortment of cards, candle holders, disco paraphernalia. Artist Ferron Bell contributed his art to two different items. A game called Encounter An Adult Fire Island Game.
Also The Fire Island Coloring Pad.
In the early 90’s longtime Pines resident Linda Gottlieb bought the Melbamar business and ran it for several years.
The legacy of Mel Fante’s Melbamar lives on in the many items still living in Pines homes, and the memories of a time gone by…