What’s inside that purple barn on Route 23?

CRARYVILLE – Eleven miles down the road and worlds away from the fine antique shops of Warren Street in Hudson is The Purple Barn, a vintage clothing and thrift store tucked away on a secluded stretch of State Route 23. The owner and operator Susan Daley, 65, lives a stone’s throw from her life’s work. Wandering among giant stuffed squids, flamboyantly dressed mannequins and neon Easter bunnies, she knows how to turn heads. She’s been doing it for 45 years.

“As long as I can get out of bed, I’ll be here,” she said recently.

A rainbow-haired model in a white wedding dress draped with the American flag stands guard on Daley’s colorful corner of the two-lane rural highway. Visually shocking and ever-changing cars slow down to preview the display.

Inside, Daley helps customers through a maze of overflowing clothing, VHS tapes and costumes. “You can access the men’s section by taking the stairs,” Daley told a visitor recently. “Or riding the elephant.”

The family business, listed under Daley’s of New York but known locally as The Purple Barn, is now in its 45th year in business. He survived decades of obstacles and changes: legal battles with the city zoning board, deaths in the family, a sentencing order in the 1990s and even a recent stroke.

Yagga Rippa, 32, a mechanical estimator, lived in Columbia County before moving to Canada. She fondly remembers The Purple Barn. “I grew up in the early 90s running around this place, hiding in the endless coat racks, trying on women’s boots that reached my thighs,” she said. “There was always some type of ancient artifact to be found.”

Despite the store’s legendary status among locals, like many small businesses, The Purple Barn has barely survived the economic turmoil of the pandemic. “We’re holding on by our teeth,” Daley said.

“This place was packed at one point,” recalls Bill Daley, one of Susan’s seven siblings. “People were queuing and walking here.”

“We had a great time,” Susan said. ” Is not it ? »

The origins of La Grange Pourpre

Originally from Connecticut, the Daley family moved to the quiet hamlet of Craryville in the early 1970s. In 1974, teenage Susan hosted an outdoor tag sale outside her family’s home. The rest was history.

At the time, the area “was really no man’s land,” she says. To attract customers, she had to get creative.

“We had this huge tree in the front yard,” she said. “So I hung a lot of clothes and all kinds of things on it. But no one stopped. After a first day without clients, her future in roadside fashion sales looked bleak, and a defeated young Susan was ready to pack it all up.

“Finally, there was a guy who drove by and saw all the things hanging on the tree,” she said. “He found a phone and called his wife. “You have to come here and see this.” Then we were busy.

The outdoor tag sale became a surprise hit. “People in that area at the time didn’t even know what a tag sale was,” Bill said.

The following weekend brought bad weather and Susan rushed to put away the things that were hanging from the trees. “People were asking if I would have another tag sale. I told them it was raining like crazy…and my dad was a little hesitant to let me use the house (to hold the sale).

But eventually he relented, allowing Susan and her customers to go only as far as the salon. It only lasted so long – after the third weekend, according to Susan, “he said you had to get these people out of the house”.

So, little by little, Susan and her siblings began converting an adjacent red barn filled with hay into the thrift store that still operates today. He opened by selling clothes on makeshift tables made out of doors.

One day, in an act of teenage rebellion, Susan painted the barn the bright purple that has become her namesake. Susan’s dad complained about the color, which made her more attached to the attention-grabbing hue.

Plus, she insists, people need color in their lives. “What’s up with all these people painting their houses black in Hudson?”

“There will be no other Purple Barn”

Patty Carter, 52, a teacher’s assistant in Dutchess County, calls the store “Tag Sale Susie.”

“I remember going there just before school opened with $10 in my pocket,” she said. “Susie said, ‘Come back, you’ll find something!’ And I always have!

Holly Walthour, 45, a nurse in Hudson, remembers going to The Purple Barn as a teenager with her twin sister, neighbors and anyone they could find to drive them around. “We spent hours there,” she says.

As for The Purple Barn’s future, Susan plans to keep it open for as long as she can – “until we move on, I guess”.

“I think once you pass, said Bill, it will be over.

Susan agrees. Her only son, Ben, runs a landscaping business and has shown no interest in keeping the store open. “There won’t be another Purple Barn,” she said evenly.

But for now, the funky boutique at 1291 NY-23 is open for business. The Purple Barn draws people in with the flashy mystery of Daley’s colorful displays. And once inside, an old Prince CD in one hand and a yellow belt in the other, somewhere between a VHS copy of “Casper Meets Wendy” and the ceiling dripping with hats, you can almost forget, don’t if only for a moment, what you do at all. Daley knows the feeling.

“I don’t care what kind of problem you have that you come with. I guarantee you the first time you walk in here, you’ll forget what you were worried about.

About Robert James

Check Also

AT Days 128-131: First days in Tennessee

The weather and scenery improved significantly over my first four full AT days in Tennessee. …