Have you driven on West Main Street in Riverhead recently and wondered why you saw statues of a dinosaur, gorilla and Dracula all in one place?
That’s because Behind the Fence Gallery, a statuary and collectables business, just recently moved onto the property at 651 West Main Street, across from Riverhead Dodge.
Look inside Behind the Fence’s building and you’ll find even more statues what’s on display outside. Among statues of James Dean, a multicolored Marilyn Monroe and The Beatles (as caricatures), you’ll find the business’s owner, Alison Jennerich, of Baiting Hollow, manning the store’s desk.
For roughly seven years, Jennerich was the gallery’s director when it operated along County Route 39 in Southampton. She bought the business in September and moved it to Riverhead. The statuary business has been in operation for roughly 30 years before Jennerich jumped at the opportunity to buy it, she said.
“I absolutely loved it,” said Jennerich, who grew up in Riverhead. “And I just wanted something of my own.”
Selling and producing statues is a unique business. “It’s a cute little niche. We have maybe two or three competitors nationwide,” Jennerich said. She works with manufacturers and with in-house staff to produce the life-sized statues, which are molded out of clay or foam, before being cast in fiberglass, hand painted, and shipped across the United States.
A lot of Jennerich’s sales are to businesses, she said, including mini-golf courses, aquariums and specialty stores like ice-cream shops. The gallery has done work with major names like Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurants and resorts and Coca Cola, she said.
The prices for the statues vary from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars. They also rent statues for events like birthday parties, Jennerich said.
“Like when people come in, they think because they see the statues outside that they would never be able to afford something like that,” Jennerich said. “And then they actually come in and ask us about it and hear the price and were like, ‘wow, really? That’s not bad.’”
Jennerich also works with customers to design and create custom statues, a process that usually takes several months, she said. Behind the Fence Gallery will also repair and repaint broken and worn statues.
In addition to selling the statues, the store sells collectables including vinyl records, crystals and vintage disney figurines.
Jennerich said owning her own business has been a lifelong dream that she’s finally fulfilled. She said she’s proud to be a woman-entrepreneur and able to own a business in the town she grew up in.
“It’s important to open up good family-owned businesses in your own community. That’s what you need for the community to grow,” Jennerich said. “So the fact that I found the space and can be in Riverhead, and I grew up here, it’s cool.”
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Alek Lewis
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