RIDGEFIELD, CT — Turkey Ridge, the venerable gift shop on Bailey Avenue, is shutting down, but its owner wants you to know it has nothing to do with the coronavirus pandemic.
She says she's stared down worse.
"If I know how to run a business for 22 years, and I've run it through 9/11, and I've run it through the recession we had in 2008 and 2009, I can certainly get through a little bit of COVID," Nadine Dolhy said.
Dolhy said she is not selling her business, merely closing the One Bailey Avenue storefront. Her lease is up at the end of January, and after making "a rather quick decision," she announced the store's closing with a sign out front on Jan. 22.
She said she is not looking for a buyer, but "buyers are looking for us. We have two people very interested right now, so you never know."
One can only hope. The shop has been a fixture on Bailey and in the hearts of residents and tourists looking for unusual antiques, curios and accessories for two generations. Up until the pandemic trimmed the shop's hours, Dolhy's door was open seven days a week.
That's a grind she won't miss, she said, but it was more than offset by the buzz she got from buying and selling. Retail and fashion have been her passion her entire life, and Dolhy has done pretty much all that can be done professionally in both those industries.
"There's an excitement to the business," Dolhy told Patch. "You can't do this, if you don't enjoy it. "It's a new show every day. You enjoy your customers, you enjoy your vendors, you enjoy your trade shows, you enjoy the creativity of it."
Dolhy opened Turkey Ridge as an antique shop exclusively, but as the town has developed, the store has changed to meet residents' wants and needs. But her grandest adventures, and greatest "gets," were the one-of-a-kinds and rarities she spied on the backs of trucks and hidden in dusty alcoves and warehouses. An original Ansel Adams print that she stumbled across and acquired "for next to nothing" was her most memorable buy.
"And a guy comes in, and he immediately recognized it, and said, 'I don't even want the frame, I just want the print!'"
For most in Ridgefield, Turkey Ridge has been a portal into the past. For many Ridgefield High School students, however, the experience provided a leg up on their future. Dolhy employed "probably a hundred girls over the years," two generations of local teens as part-time shopkeepers while they went to high school and on their breaks home from college.
The shop owner has taken a clear and particular pride in mentoring the young ladies in the life-skills that matter: "How to dress, how to act, how to be on time, how to be professional, how to handle yourself, how to handle a customer."
One of her protégés is Samantha Santoro. She started working in Turkey Ridge when she was a sophomore at Ridgefield High School, and continued working there on breaks when she later attended the University of Dayton. For the past five years she has worked in advertising sales for the Discovery family of channels, a gig she says her time at Turkey Ridge more than prepared her for.
"Every day was a learning experience," Santoro said. "I think why Nadine was so, so successful was that she treated Turkey Ridge as if we were a storefront on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. She has such high standards for customer service down to making sure every gift is handed to someone: 'You look someone in the eye, and you make a connection with a customer.'"
Another key component of Turkey Ridge's success, according to Santoro, was serendipity. She predicts that's what Ridgefield will miss most when the shop shutters on Sunday at 6 p.m.
"The store is very enchanting," Santoro said. "You walk down the stairs, and you really don't know what to expect, because Nadine always has beautiful little surprises around every corner. From little things you didn't think you needed, to beautiful candles, to mirrors, to clocks, to jewelry bags. I think they'll miss the enchantment of Turkey Ridge."
"Two weeks from now the doors could be wide open again still under the name of Turkey Ridge," Dolhy said. "You never know."