19 Nov 2013

Petticoat Row on Nantucket

Merriam-Webster defines a petticoat as a garment characteristic or typical of women…a feminine article of clothing traditionally worn under a longer skirt. The modern day women of Nantucket, while no longer sporting petticoats, are at once feminine and edgy…smart and sassy…entrepreneurial and industrious.  In short, there is nothing “typical” about them. They are determined to honor the contribution and reputation of a long lineage of Nantucket women, while paving the way for a new generation of island businesswomen, merchants, entrepreneurs and successful moms.

I had the pleasure of attending an event this past week hosted by an organization aptly named “Petticoat Row.” From its earliest beginnings, Nantucket has relied on its women to not only manage the home-front, family and land while the men were at sea, but to literally “set up shop” and be creative in establishing and overseeing local businesses that contributed to the island’s vibrant economy. The most famous of these female entrepreneurs were the shopkeepers (Mary Nye and others) of “Petticoat Row,” located along Centre Street, in the heart of the Old Historic District. Taking a page from their ancestors playbook, this new consortium of Petticoat Row visionaries are passionate about women, commerce and all things Nantucket.

With a few hundred in attendance, the Nantucket Hotel ballroom was buzzing with local women (and a few men too!) casting their visions, updating each other on new endeavors and sharing both successes and difficulties they’re encountering along the way. My favorite part of the evening was the “all-star panel” facilitated by Holly Finigan, one of Nantucket’s newest entrepreneurial rising stars, who interviewed four long time successful island businesswomen. From Nalu to Susan Lister Locke JewelerStephanie’s Nantucket to Jessica Hicks Jewelry Design, each woman told a piece of her story, encouraged us with her wit and wisdom and most importantly reminded us how critical it is for all of us…residents and visitors…to shop locally.  Nantucket can only sustain itself if retailers island-wide are successful.

With the holiday season approaching, why not make a plan to invest in the island we all love with a gift that’s uniquely Nantucket. What’s on your list? Perhaps a gift certificate for a salon treatment, dinner for two or a whale watching tour. Clothing, books, furniture, jewelry, art, gourmet food items or a Nantucket basket…island merchants can help you make your list and check it twice. If you’re unable to visit the island for Thanksgiving, Christmas Stroll or any time before the holidays, most merchants conveniently offer online shopping opportunities through their websites or will gladly ship if you prefer to place a phone order. If you’re lucky enough to be here in person, be sure to take a stroll up Centre Street during your shopping spree and pause to pay homage to Mary Nye and the hundreds of other entrepreneurs who paved the way on “Petticoat Row” for Nantucket’s flourishing economy.

Shop ACK!

Shellie Dunlap

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