Purely Puritan

Luxury Lifestyle at its Best! Puritan Cape Cod is more than a store.

Ask any independent store owner and it will be confirmed: it’s no longer enough to have a beautiful store filled with great clothes sold by attentive sellers. These days, when customers can buy anything anywhere at any price, staying in business means providing a total lifestyle experience.

The Penn boys (Rick, Milton and Jim) minding the store on Main Street in Hyannis.
They’re also active in about 50 philanthropic organizations on the Cape.

And few stores do it as well as Puritan Cape Cod, a multi-unit apparel store founded in 1919 by Abraham Penn and now run by a third generation: cousins Rick and Jim Penn (shown in photo with their charming uncle Milton who, at 89 years young, still works every day!) In their 18,000 square foot Hyannis location, there’s not only a world class apparel store but also the highly rated Solstice day spa and two fabulous restaurants with wonderful food, ambiance and paintings by local artists. There’s a wine cellar, perfect for wine tastings when bridal parties book their spa treatments. “Dress, Dine and Decompress” is how the Penn boys describe the relationship between the various components of their business. Their company mantra, “Earn the Relationship,” is something they do every day.

Milton recalls the early years when he and his brother Howard (Rick’s dad, who died this past year) worked with their father Abe. He remembers travelling the east coast to the Canadian border, carrying suitcases of uniforms for servicemen. Inventories were rationed during the war years, demand was high and everything was in short supply. Even after the war, there were long waiting lists for shirts and suits, and customers would stand in line for hours when a shipment of Arrow shirts arrived. (FYI: the store was named Puritan because their first location was in Plymouth, where the Puritans landed aboard the Mayflower.)

Statue of JFK in front of the John F. Kennedy Hyannis museum;
could he be heading into the store for some new clothes?

Jumping to more recent history, Milton confides that their smartest move was buying the building in 1986! And despite a vintage-looking storefront with the store name in original lettering, everything else about Puritan is modern and fashion-forward. Their merchandise mix is about 45 percent men’s, 38 percent women’s (handbags and shoes are hot!), 10 percent footwear and the rest boys’ and gifts. Key menswear vendors include Tommy Bahama, Hugo Boss, Vineyard Vines, Robert Talbott, Raffi, Hart Schaffner Marx, Peter Millar, Individualized, Agave, Thomas Dean, Tailor Vintage, Johnnie-O, Allen Edmonds, Sperry Top-Sider, Barbour, Bills Khakis, Cole Haan, Johnston and Murphy, The North Face, Trafalgar, True Grit and many other great brands.

“The fall season has started to kick in at Puritan!” said Jim Penn. “We’ve had some excellent early reaction to Hugo Boss suits, furnishings, and sportswear. Top sellers include Tommy Bahama wovens, sweaters, and authentic fit jeans. Alex Cannon 1/4 zip sweaters continue to be a hit with our customers. We’re starting to re-order with Thomas Dean sportshirts (always a good sign), the Barbour classic Beaufort jacket is a winner, and everything from Vineyard Vines is ringing the register at Puritan Cape Cod.”

Truly talented tailors contribute to Puritan’s success, as do 50+ loyal sales associates
and brilliant buyers (like Bob Harrison!).

And while one might assume that it’s mostly a summer business (their four Puritan stores and one Vineyard Vines shop are all on Cape Cod, a top summer travel destination), Puritan has a surprisingly strong outdoors/active/skiwear business (dating back to the early ’60s when they began carrying fishing rods, skates, guns, tennis and ski equipment, etc), with December their number one month. (Jan/Feb/March accounts for 14 percent of annual volume.)

Incredible lunch at the Naked Oyster; note original brick walls and paintings by local artists.

Thank you Puritan Cape Cod for giving me an excuse to get to the Cape this summer! Not only did I do some quick shopping (I especially loved the gift department, bought by Rick’s wife Julie who also buys women’s and shoes) but I got to know these terrific merchants over an amazing lunch at the Naked Oyster. You can be sure I’ll be back next summer for more shopping, perhaps a spa treatment, lunch at the new café, and as much beach time as possible! (It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it…)

Chatham Chino Company

In 1925, Puritan Cape Cod founder Abe Penn was able to augment his retail business (adversely affected by the Depression) by supplying the Chatham Coast Guard Station with rugged, seaworthy chino trousers. Today, third generation Puritan co-owners Jim and Rick Penn have re-created these authentic chinos for a new customer. Timeless and classic, these chinos are 100 percent cotton twill, salt washed and weathered. They feature a YKK antique finish zipper, custom horn buttons and premium grade pocketing. Available only at Puritan stores at the moment ($79 retail), don’t be surprised to see a wholesale division coming soon. After all, heritage has never been hotter and this is the real thing!

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  1. great article about a great store…well done Karen.

  2. Great article. I love seeing stories of a positive nature of a multi generation business that have been so diligent about staying the course! They are a very worthy family!
    Ron Sacino

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