Purple Frog offers wares from around the world

Emma Hardiman, owner of the Purple Frog gift shop, displays colorful and creative storage boxes. Ms. Hardiman opened business on April 27.  —Steve Coulter photo

Emma Hardiman, owner of the Purple Frog gift shop, displays colorful and creative storage boxes. Ms. Hardiman opened business on April 27. —Steve Coulter photo

Sushi plates from Scotland, asparagus-shaped candles from Paris and necklaces from Kenya — these are only some of the wares the Purple Frog gift shop at 5 Bailey Avenue offers to its customers.

Store owner Emma Hardiman said she always wanted her store to be bright and modern with gifts for everybody. And it has taken on a more international identity since its official opening on April 27.

“The idea is you can buy anything for anybody of any age,” she said. “There’re gifts for both men and women, students and babies; gifts for travelers, chefs, gardeners, and animal lovers.”

Her shop carries products that come from all around the world, ranging from Sweden to New Zealand to South Africa to Vietnam.

“It’s more international than I was planning,” she admitted. “But there’s been a tremendous popularity with foreign goods.”

She has an abundance of local products as well, including a large display of Bayberry beauty products from North Stamford, Swarovski crystal from New Jersey, and Bellocq Pure Teas from Brooklyn.

Mugs from the Metropolitan Opera in Manhattan are one of her favorite items on sale.

How was she able to get the Met to allow her to sell those all the way up in Connecticut?

“I spoke really nice to them and now I am selling them,” she explained.

Other products include baby onesies, Internet address and password logbooks, picture holders, and miniature candle corks for wine bottles.

For men, she sells cuff links, wallets, beer glasses, cologne, and pens.

Ms. Hardiman moved to Westchester County with her husband, Graham, and her two children in 2011 after living Madrid, Spain, for two years. She has been a Ridgefield resident since May 16, 2012.

“We are celebrating our one-year anniversary of living in town,” she said.

Before Spain, the family lived outside of London, where Ms. Hardiman is from originally.

In addition, she has traveled to diverse locations around the world, ranging from Russia to New Zealand.

“I think it really has to do with you get to a certain age where you want to sit down and do something you enjoy doing every day,”  she said of her shop.

She added that owning the Purple Frog has been a way for her to socialize more and to escape her accounting background.

“I didn’t want to sit in front of spreadsheets anymore,” she said. “I knew this was something I would enjoy.”

“I really wanted to meet people, and this is a much more social job than anything I’ve ever done.”

Mrs. Hardiman believes another attribute that makes her business stand out is the basket service she offers that allows customers to choose their gift, or gifts, and their basket type and color scheme. Customers may take the finished baskets with them or she can mail them to “most destinations” in the United States.

“I think it’s a really original idea — at least I haven’t seen it anywhere,” she said. “I wanted a more modern version of the wicker basket.”

“It’s been a really good idea with giving baby gifts.”

Ms. Hardiman said business has been great so far, thanks to Mother’s Day and Take Pride in Ridgefield on May 4.

“There was such a lovely atmosphere in town, and it was so great to have a lot of people coming into the shop and browsing around,” she said. “The event also introduced me to country music, because it was playing outside of my door all day.”

Mrs. Hardiman wants to market the store to a diverse group of customers. She intends to have a more active presence on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

She also plans to launch a website for customers to buy goods from her store online from all over the world.

“So much shopping is done online these days that I need to have that option available for potential customers,” she said, adding she hopes the website is up by July or August.

So where does the shop’s name come from? The purple frogs that live along the Amazon River?

Not exactly.

“I really wish I had something profound for why the shop’s named the Purple Frog,” Mrs. Hardiman said. “I really liked ‘The Armadillo’ and ‘Pink Pig’ as potential names, but those were shot down and eventually my friends and I came up with ‘the Purple Frog.’”

She added that there are no purple frogs on sale in the shop, but that purple itself is a popular color among both men and women.

Mrs. Hardiman believes the Purple Frog’s diversity has given her a new outlook on the world.

“I’ve found out that the world’s not that big of a place — I can pick up the phone and call anybody or go on the Internet and order goods from anywhere,” she said.

Purple Frog  is open from 10 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday and from 10 to 4  Sunday. The store is closed on Monday. Its website is purplefrogshopping.com.


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