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Coffee Talk
Business Observer Friday, Jul. 1, 2016 4 years ago

Into the Mystic

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The life of an independent retailer can be difficult, with malls, department stores and Amazon among the competitive forces.

The life of an independent retailer can be difficult, with malls, department stores and Amazon among the competitive forces.

But Michael Valentino, who owns four high-end clothing stores, including one on St. Armands Circle and one on Sanibel Island, says he's proof a niche in retail goes a long way. He has run Island Pursuit since 1983, and has packed his stores with casual, coastal-inspired sportswear and accessories. “The retail resort world is a little more insular than real world retail,” Valentino tells Coffee Talk. “When you are on vacation, we have the kind of clothes you want to wear.”

A Longboat Key resident, Valentino will put that theory to test with his latest beach town store, on Main Street in Mystic, Conn. It's the fifth Island Pursuit storefront location, joining the Florida stores and others in Chatham, Mass., on Cape Cod, and Newport, R.I. The Mystic store opened in mid-June.

Valentino is optimistic the Mystic location, which he looked at for a few years, will soon be as successful as Sanibel and St. Armands. “Business has been good,” says Valentino, who started his retail career in 1976, when he sold Swedish clogs from a store in Boston. “We are still coming back from the 2008 debacle, but things are getting better and better.”

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