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Ryemarkable Abbie Durkin!

Name of Business: Palmer & Purchase

Length of time in business: 11 years

Family info: 2 boys – Archie (7); Graham (11)

Pets: 1 dog – Gary (Covid Puppy)

How was your store impacted by Ida (or Henri or Covid)?

The last few years have been challenging for everyone – from Covid to the recent hurricanes! From a business standpoint, Covid in many ways has been the worst of times and the best of times. In March of 2020 we closed our shops before the official mandate to ensure the safety of our staff and later staggered reopening across our stores (except Greenwich, which we permanently closed) from May to September to allow breathing space to ensure that we had enough staff, inventory, and frankly the money to open our doors! Closing the stores was devastating, but it did force me to invest heavily in our online business. Increasing our online business was a long-term goal, but one that I never had time to prioritize until I had no choice! Today, almost all our inventory is available online. This is a huge feat since we do all the backend work in house. Luckily, in 2019 we relocated to a larger space in downtown Rye, providing the room necessary to warehouse inventory, receive/package/ship, etc. Covid put us through the ringer, but we fought hard, and managed to pull through (if we are actually through Covid yet?!?).

And just when I felt like we were finally coming up for air, Hurricane Ida came and knocked us out again! Ida flooded our entire basement, ruining all the inventory, packaging, and displays. We have completed the bulk of the cleanup (wet paper and clothes are HEAVY!) and donated anything that was salvageable, but it was a crushing blow to our spirits and our bottom line. All that being said, I want to acknowledge that for both Covid and the recent hurricane, many people suffered far greater losses… I am very grateful that we are all healthy and can rebound and rebuild.

How did you cope? What strategies are you using to deal?

What are my coping strategies? – short answer, a lot of wine! Seriously though, I wake up every day with the drive to keep my business afloat to support my family… so I keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it work. Also, I am lucky to work with a team of supportive and committed women who have helped me innovate and improvise to ride out the tough times.

What is one thing that has surprised you?

The thing that has surprised me most through these recent tough times is individual resilience, particularly my kids. When school closed, sports shut down, and playdates were a no-go, my kids still managed to learn, play, and grow. I don’t know what the long-term effects of the covid experience will be for them, but the way that they have adapted to these twists and turns in life continues to amaze me. I wish I could take the credit for it… but, I think it more the gift of youth!

How can the Rye community help?

Shop local! In a culture where you can get anything at the push of a button, maintaining a vibrant downtown is hard – it takes a committed community, one that avidly and consistently supports its downtown. I know that sometimes it is easier to go online or the mall and get exactly what you were looking for… and even sometimes a little bit cheaper… but, it is so important to be flexible and support your local businesses. For example, if your daughter wanted a black MZ Wallace backpack, but all we have in stock is Navy Blue… maybe consider compromising to support your local business rather than jumping to buy it online taking the business away from your community. Just remember that for your downtown to thrive, everyone must actively support it!

What is your best tip for fellow entrepreneurs?

Before diving into owning your own business, work in the industry that you are considering first. Surround yourself with people who are good at everything you are not! Trust in your team and learn to delegate. Most importantly, understand that owning your own business is not a nine to five job, it is a 24-hour commitment rife with sacrifices, many of which are hard to make.

And, your favorite thing about Rye?

Downtown Rye is fantastic. I have stores in several locations and Rye is something special. It has great shopping, restaurants, library, etc. I grew up in Rye and remember saving my babysitting money to shop at High Gear and now I am lucky enough to own a store in town. The town has stood the test of time and it just keeps getting better!

Your website?

Your Instagram? @palmerandpurchase


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