Style Tastemaker

An Artistic Spirit at the Purple Cow

A Main Street favorite showcases 300 artists

So Rhode Island Magazine ·

What’s in name? We caught up with Melinda Witham from
The Purple Cow to find out more about her commitment to handmade art and how her eclectic store got its name.

It’s amazing that you’ve been in business since 1989. Tell us how you started.

My mother Johanna, an amazing artist, potter and quilter, started The Purple Cow in Narragansett as a pottery store. Mom and I ran the store together for years. In 2009 she handed over the reins and partly retired from retail to pursue her artwork and explore. She is still involved in buying and going to the shows. I couldn’t do it without her.

What’s it like to be a Main Street cornerstone?

Wakefield has been very good to us through the years. This town is an amazing mix of locals, summer residents and college students in the fall. It is always changing and it keeps us fresh. The people that live here are so supportive and loyal. We just love South County.

You carry a great variety of affordable jewelry. What’s been popular this summer?
Sea glass jewelry is always popular in the summer. We also sell lots of great sterling silver and turquoise rings this time of year. When you get a great tan silver looks amazing.

Tell us more about the artists you feature. 
We feature jewelry from over 300 artists and designers. It’s important to have something for everyone. You can buy a mood ring for $3.95 or a Julie Shaw one-of-a-kind necklace for $800. Some of our most popular designers are Patricia Locke, Alexis Bittar, Silver Seasons and our local artists Neringa Aiello and Jon Campbell. Neringa wraps natural stones in fine silver and gold for a slight twist on classic pearls. Jon Campbell is as local as it gets. His jewelry depicts South County – flounder necklaces, beach scene pendants and silver anchors.

What’s a great birthday gift for under $25? 
You can get a beautiful sea glass wrap bracelet for $14.95 or a naturally scented soy wax candle for $17.95 by local artist and Purple Cow employee Kelly Holmes. Scarves are still hot, and we have many to choose from. They also make a great wrap at the beach.

Tell us more about what “Purple Cow” means and what inspired you to name your store.
My mother’s favorite color was purple and she wanted to tie the color into the name. As the story goes, she repeated “purple… purple… purple… cow!” And that’s how it got named. The name has suited us well over the years. The name is about being different, about being a free sprit. That is what we love!

The Purple Cow
205 Main Street, Wakefield

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