Eileen and Ronnie, the owners of Bobb Howard’s General Store in New Hyde Park, are a couple of baby boomers who grew up on Long Island playing hopscotch and hide-and-seek, stickball and stoopball, flipping baseball cards and jacks, and Hit the Penny and Spin the Bottle.
They met, fell in love and have been “playing house” for more than 44 years.
The general store, located at 581 Lakeville Rd., is attached to a family auto repair shop that Eileen’s parents opened 71 years ago on Columbus Day.
People often comment on the combination of the two businesses. But for Eileen and Ronnie, it is a natural extension of the things they love—such as old cars—and they have an extensive collection of old gumball and coin-operated machines and old toys and games in their home. Some of Eileen’s other childhood favorites that she has collected include Double Bubble, Jujubes, B-B-Bats and Red Licorice Laces.
The repair shop is a landmark in the neighborhood as it is now servicing second-, third- and some fourth-generation family cars—and the rite of passage for some of the neighborhood kids is to be able to go to Bobb Howard’s on their bicycles by themselves.
The general store actually started out as a convenience store in 1982. Then, 26 years ago, Eileen noticed the frenetic pace of today’s computerized world and decided that it was time for a change, but also time to go back to a simpler time and have people remember what it felt like to be “a kid in a candy store” again. She wanted to go back to a time when games didn’t require batteries, so she started slowly converting the fast-paced convenience store into an old-time candy and toy store, where kids of all ages could come and browse and giggle with nostalgic memories. And as the saying goes, “The rest is history.”
Word started spreading quickly about the store—and soon, customers, newspapers, and TV and radio stations had put the store “on the map.” Bobb Howard’s now ships “packages of memories” all over the world and kids and “kids at heart” come through the door for a piece of their past—for themselves, friends, generations past and future generations.
Eileen and Ronnie feel very blessed: They love what they do, they love coming to work every day and they love being able to put a smile on someone’s face, even if it’s with a nickel-piece of bubblegum. For more information on Bobb Howard’s General Store and Auto Repair Shop, call (516) 354-9564.