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SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — You may not think you need a bone-ivory articulated lobster (price on request). But the crustaceans — there are also crabs for $650 — are causing something of a sensation at the gift boutique Nina Griscom opened here a few weeks ago with her friend, the flower guru Antony Todd. “All the legs and antennae move,” Griscom explains. “I’m already running out of stock.”

Todd and Griscom met about five years ago at a dinner party hosted by Marjorie Gubelmann Raein. “We were seated together,” recalls Todd, “and then we went back to her house and sat up ’til dawn talking about life. Talking, talking, talking.”

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

But it wasn’t until about three months ago that they decided to venture into business together. Todd thought he’d found the perfect space: a whitewashed barn with a big garage door on Hampton Road. “I imagined some young good-looking girls and boys in blue Antony Todd aprons selling flowers,” he says. “I rang Nina up for some advice.”

“I told him, ‘Bad idea. The location will kill you,’” Griscom reports. But the phone call sparked something. “When I hung up, I thought, ‘It’s time to get off your butt and go back to work.’”

The idea for a lifestyle store and flower shop channeling both of their tastes (called simply Antony Todd Nina Griscom) was born.

This is the first retail endeavor for Griscom and Todd, and after settling on a location on Jobs Road a few blocks from Griscom’s home, “We just busted butt,” she says. “It was a big learning curve.”

Todd and Griscom work as separate agents. “He picks his and I pick mine.” Most of the products are for the tabletop, but Griscom has also chosen to feature Kirat jewelry, silk chiffon caftans, Ashley Hicks trays with coral handles and beaded beach bags she found in Mexico. Todd’s pieces include a Lucite chandelier, Indo-Portuguese columns from the 18th century and hand-carved marble urns that he describes as “quite divine.”

Griscom compares her approach with tending a garden, meaning the items she chooses to feature will be constantly rotating and, of course, always in season. “I’ve hand-picked everything myself — I don’t have any gnomes going out there scouting,” she quips. “I’m just trying to eyeball things I like and pray to God that others like them, too.”

The pair hope to eventually get into branding and licensing their own items. “The store is a great way to test out the reaction to my eye,” Griscom notes.

For Todd, it’s a way to show he’s not just about flowers. “I’ve done interior work,” he explains. “People can come into the store and get a sense of my decorative style. This is very much a positioning of more things to come, but I’m keeping the flower business.”

There is a snag. Griscom has found she can’t quite enjoy what summer in the Hamptons has to offer: rest and relaxation. The store will be open seven days a week through August, and Griscom wants to be there all the time. (It will be open on weekends through January.) But she’s compensated by asking her friends to hang out at the shop. A colonial daybed makes browsing more comfortable, and Griscom will host book signings for pals Bettina Zilkha and Sirio Maccioni in the next few weeks.

“By the time I get home, all I want to do is relax with a glass of wine with my friends,” she says. “The upside is I guess I won’t get any skin cancer this summer.”

— Marshall Heyman

NINA GRISCOM’S THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS FOR SUMMER

  1. A red Vespa for tooling around. (Not recommended for highways.)
  2. A pair of Faraone Menella gold hoop earrings.
  3. A copy of “Grace and Power: The Private World of the Kennedy White House” by Sally Bedell Smith. “It’s ideal beach reading — a serious, well-researched take on the Kennedy White House.”
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