It's been awhile since I’ve written you…
My sweet and precious Mother Constance Pryde Perucca passed away on October 3, 2022. She was 87 years old and co-founder of Pryde’s.
I was four years old when my parents were “cooking” up Pryde’s in 1968.
They brainstormed at our expansive round table in our avocado green and sienna orange kitchen envisioning a store like a smaller version of Emery, Bird, Thayer Dry Goods Company. They imagined a store that had something for everyone.
It reminds me of my Las Vegas customer, Marie Traub, who said “Pryde’s has nothing you need but everything you must have.”
They chose to name their adventure after my Mother’s Swedish family middle name, Pryde.
John and Connie opened Pryde’s November 6, 1968 with four children at St. Elizabeth’s School and $200 in the Westport bank.
CAN YOU IMAGINE? The sheer willpower and guts it took? It was a cold November day and there were protests to the Vietnam War in the streets of historic Westport.
They operated on a shoestring budget with faith in a creative dream.
There are many treasures in Pryde’s that reflect those early years.
My Grandmother Anna’s stove that greets you when you enter the store. My Mother’s painting of the American flag with drums and the cheeky sign that says “Watch for the opening of our branch stores in New York, London, Paris, Rome and Zurich,” An original straw gift bow from 1968, my Grandmother Anna’s icebox that I had lovingly restored, holds our ice cube display and the calico covered jar with ricrac trim filled with scissors - very 70’s.
These are a daily reminder of economy and creativity to me. My parents literally fashioned a beautiful store out of nothing. My Dad, a master recycler, and my Mother an imaginative, talented force.
I think of those early days and chuckle at the thought of my Mom calling my Dad’s best friend Bill Pollard, saying, “Can you get John out to Dave’s (Stagecoach Inn) for a beer so I can finish a display?” She would rip up the store with her trusty cohorts in crime, Jeannie and Larry and transform the entire store in a few short hours.
In gratitude for my siblings Elizabeth, John and (and my late brother Chris.) We spent many “not exactly carefree” days working as free Saturday labor with fond memories of cake at Johny’s Cafe, Mario’s Grinders and movies at the Westport Library.
To all the wonderful personalities that have woven the fabric of making Pryde’s a unique bastion in today's cookie cutter retailing, Thank You! Each one of your efforts have always been and continue to be greatly appreciated.
My parents were true urban pioneers following dedication to their craft. The craft of creating a welcome gathering place in the heart of a historic Kansas City jewel…Westport.
Even after divorce, my parents remained friends eventually living next door in neighboring Peanut's apartments - my Mom went on to accomplish many things courageously and generously in her lifetime without complaint.
I feel both of my parents every day at Pryde’s. My Dad - when I see an empty spot on the shelf that MUST to be filled or when a customer has an armful and needs a shopping basket. My Mom - when I unpack seasonal treasures that come daily, (she loved Halloween) when making a bow for a beautiful gift and in the creativity of a display.
I invite you to stop by Pryde's, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and appreciate the layering of generations of hard work and dedication to our craft of offering warmth and vitality to your own kitchen.
Happy Fall Day -
Connie Pryde Perucca in her Dr. Scholl’s shoes and apron at our original store at 301 Westport Road
My Grandmother Anna's Stove
My Mom's hand-painted signs
My Grandmother Anna's icebox
The calico covered jar of scissors
Share this post