Chelsea Sweeney brings mechanical know-how and common-sense customer service to her year-old business, Hampton Car Club — and that’s exactly what she looks for in others, too.
July marks one year since she and her husband, Mike Sweeney, opened their souped-up, subscriber-based service station that’s so much more than a simple stop for an oil change and tire rotation.
It’s an unexpected place to wait out routine car care and repairs, from the simple to serious, with an in-house café, grab-and-go bites, members lounge with comfy, clubby leather chairs, bar and big screen TV — and it offers other perks, like exotic car rentals, vehicle storage and car consignment.
Here, Sweeney’s commitment to one-on-one customer service is as paramount for proper car care as her stellar, proven abilities under the hood.
“I love cars and I wanted a place where people could come and get a clear translation on what was going on with their vehicle. Here, I work on your car and you talk to me — it’s close knit,” she says. “People really like that and are surprised by it. But of course I’m going to communicate with you. I have your car!”
The company took over the space owned by Sweeney’s father-in-law, whose Southampton Auto and Marine Upholstery business was here for 40 years. And with a two-tiered membership model, it really seems to have hit on a need in the area. “It’s been great building community and meeting and helping new people and forming new relationships. So many great people have joined and I see them on a regular basis,” Sweeney says.
The Sweeneys will celebrate Hampton Car Club’s first anniversary with a party on Sunday, July 2. If you’ve never been there, it’s a good reason to check ‘em out. The party is open to the public and starts at noon. “It’ll be a July 4th theme, since it’s the holiday weekend when we celebrate our anniversary.”
When Sweeney isn’t preoccupied with getting motors humming, she’s the busy mom of two little ones. “I have a 1- and a 3-year-old, and both boys are named after car things,” she laughs. “The older one is Gauge and the younger is Camber, but we call him Cam — it’s a term that has to do with the alignment of your tires.”
Here, she tells us where she likes to head when she drives off into the sunset.
My husband, Mike, and I love Cooper’s Beach [in Southampton] ‘cause we got married there. Basically, we eloped on July 7, 2017 — just the two of us. My husband was born and raised in Laurel, so we had a great wedding party celebration a year later on the North Fork. It was a really good get-together.
Favorite restaurant for date night
With two little kids, we don’t get a lot of those! But I love Cowfish in Hampton Bays. I just love their food and it’s right on the water — not too far from us, either. Their NOLA shrimp is my fave. I also really like going to Sant Ambreoeus and sitting in the alley seating. It’s the atmosphere. It’s got all these little vines growing up the walls and it’s outdoors and reminds me of being in a different country. The caprese mozzarella and tomato salad is my go-to!
Favorite place for healthy food
I really try to eat well. I’m a sucker for Citarella’s. I love their fresh produce. For events at Hampton Car Club, I get stuff from there and I eat lunch there sometimes, too. I’ve been to them all, but I go to the Southampton one the most.
Favorite thing to do with kids
My boys love swimming pools and they love the bay! And they really like being outside, so we do a lot of day trips to Montauk. The beach is great and we really like walking around town. We also love Ponquogue Beach in Hampton Bays, walking around Sag Harbor and the Agawam Park playground in Southampton.
Favorite hot wings
Oh my god, I love Birdies [Ale House]. It’s right next to Goldberg’s Bagels in Southampton. [Emma Beudert]’s wings are the best! And she’s such a sweet person.
Favorite store for clothes shopping
I live in T-shirts from Ron at Fisher’s Signs — they make our work shirts at Hampton Car Club. I live in them seven days a week. His sweatshirts and regular shirts, the Carhartts or regular tees — he does a great job with our logo on them all. And I really like popping in and saying hi. The staff there is great. I don’t dress up often, but I love Mint boutique. I’ll go there when I have to look for something special.
Oh my god, I used to live at Schmidt’s when they were in Southampton! I miss them here. I really pick the businesses I patronize because of the owners and their staff. It makes a big difference. Wine Country Deli [in Calverton] supplies my food at the shop, and I go to Sean’s Place — they used to be on Main Road near Starbucks, but now they’re near the kids’ playground and Southampton Publick House. I would choose them any day. I honestly like places that when you go in, they smile — that lasts longer than the food.
Favorite gas station
The Sunoco gas station across the street from us is the best! They take our flyers and when a Lambo pulls up, or a car like that, he gives them out to them. I love them.
Favorite local manufacturer
Liberty Ironworks does great work. When we renovated my father-in-law’s shop and turned it into Hampton Car Club, they made some of the stair railings and the edges of the countertops. They do great work and they’re local guys. They’re over by the 7-Eleven in Southampton.
Favorite coffee spot
Can I say my own café here? It’s pretty cool! It opens up to the showroom, so it’s a pretty cool environment. You get to drink great coffee next to really cool cars.