The Purple Tree moves next doorThe Purple Tree gift shop has moved a couple of doors south to a bigger store at 516 Second St. The family-owned and operated business has gone from 287 square feet of selling space to a shop of almost 1,100 square feet.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
The Purple Tree gift shop has moved a couple of doors south to a bigger store at 516 Second St.
The family-owned and operated business has gone from 287 square feet of selling space that was “cramped, cramped, cramped,” in the words of manager Sarah Bruch, to a shop of almost 1,100 square feet.
The biggest advantage of the new shop, Sarah says, is the obvious one. She has more room to display the T-shirts, women’s clothing, accessories, jewelry, handbags, food items, bath products, candles, greeting cards and more that The Purple Tree has to offer.
The retail shop opened by Dan and Liz Bruch and their daughters in November 2007 isn’t your typical business.
“It’s a store with a purpose,” says Liz. “It’s a life mission, really, I think for all of us.”
“We’re kind of a new wave of business in that we aren’t looking primarily at our bottom line – although we recognize that without the bottom line we can’t stay in business,” Dan adds. “We’re looking at selling products that improve the lives of others. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be in this.”
Call them do-gooders if you want.
The products they sell are intended to promote peace and a clean environment, plus provide fair wages and health care for the people who make them.
The purchase of many of the products returns money to someone living in a Third World country.
“Our products really benefit three times,” says Sarah. “First, they benefit the folks that are making them. They help us as a retail store. And when someone buys them, they’re giving a gift that makes a difference – that matters to somebody.”
There’s a story behind almost all of the products in The Purple Tree, and the Bruchs enjoy telling them.
The chic Global Girlfriends handbags are made by women from the lowest caste in India, from plastic bags they salvage from dumps.
“So when you buy this,” Sarah says, holding up one of the colorful purses, “not only are you looking stylish and cute, but you are helping women better their lives.”
The shop has stationery made from elephant dung, greeting cards that will grow into a flower if you plant them, soy candles made by Midwestern farmers, Minnesota Mittens made by developmentally disabled people and food items from a Chicago kitchen that employs formerly homeless women.
“As you can see we loooove our products,” Sarah says. “We are big on education. If you come in here, you’re going to hear all about it.”
Liz says they also try not to overwhelm people who just want to shop.
Sarah says their goal was to keep their prices at or below $30 per item when they opened the shop. She says about 85 percent of the items are still below that price and almost all are under $50.
The Bruchs have added items in the $4 and $5 price range for the many middle-schoolers who stop in looking for gifts.
Dan and Liz Bruch, both of whom have doctorate degrees, are longtime academics. Dan is also an ordained pastor with the Lutheran Council in Great Britain.
The Bruchs first came to Hudson in 1991 when Dan served as an interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church.
A job as academic dean for Yale University’s program in Eastern and Central Europe took them overseas in the mid-1990s. They returned to Hudson in 1996 and have been here since then. Dan also served Trinity as senior pastor for a few years.
All four of the Bruchs’ daughters – Sarah, Angela, Leah and Elizabeth – and their spouses and children also are Hudson residents. Angela is the other daughter most involved in The Purple Tree.
The shop has one non-family employee, Diane Kiesow, who the Bruchs say is like one of the sisters. “She’s great,” says Liz.
The Purple Tree will be hosting a grand opening at its new shop Friday and Saturday, July 10-11. Guests will be able to enter a drawing and sample a few of the products.
The shop’s hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.
You can learn more about the business online at www.thepurpletree.org or by calling (715) 386-9450.