Mary Brady Shea Knight started her business in 1971 in Massachusetts, following a long lineage of family entrepreneurs. She has owned and operated it continuously with her family, riding out two recessions and two major road reconstructions on the main street of her hometown where she was located, and then started all over when she moved her family, dogs and business to Virginia eight years ago.
“After graduating from Syracuse University, my oldest son Ryan took a job with AOL. We visited him as often as we could,” said Knight. But it wasn’t enough, and she didn’t want her family to be separated. Each time they visited, they loved the area more and more, and one day she mentioned the idea of the move to her husband Dan. They did just that, and have never looked back. “So I followed my son, and now all of our kids have made their life here.”
They fell in love with Purcellville, found a home, and finally found the perfect place for the business at 109 East Main Street in Old Town.
“The space needed a lot of work, and we had little time, with our busiest season just two months out. It was a labor of love, my husband and our kids made it happen,” she said. “Our lead man in all of this is son-in-law, Joe Cahill. He moved us to Virginia making eight trips in a 24-foot U-Haul. He has organized all our store moves, and has helped my husband with the build outs.”
Piper Dan’s Keltic Shoppe Irish & Scottish Imports (named for her son Danny, who has been playing the bagpipes since he was 10 years old) offers a large selection of hand knitted sweaters, hats, scarves and mittens, capes, blankets, jewelry, leather goods, kilts, highland wear, bagpiping supplies, rugs, linens, foods, books, music, gifts and much more, all imported from Ireland and Scotland. A holiday favorite is real Irish Peat (that is used to heat homes in Ireland, and can be burned in a fireplace for ambiance during the holidays). Another is Irish Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter, and Scottish Haggis.
Now, husband and son-in-law are at it again, plugging away to get a new Country Western store ready for a soft opening by Christmas. The store will be located in the rear of Piper Dan’s, and will be called Katie’s Country Outfitters. It’s named for the Knight’s youngest daughter, and will carry a large range of Western Wear, including boots, hats, leather goods, jewelry and gifts. Many of the boots have already arrived in time for Christmas, and are on display in the Irish part of the shop for now.
So what is the connection between an Irish Shoppe and a Country Western Store? “Nothing really,” says Knight, except that she carries not only traditional kilts, but street kilts that she plans to pair with Western boots for a “Kilted Cowboy” look. “I’m just fulfilling another dream that my daughter and I have always wanted to do.”
The shoppe is open 7 days a week until Christmas, Monday thru Friday 11am–7pm, Saturday 10am–7pm, and Sundays noon till 5. A lot of her family is on hand during the holidays to help with the free gift wrapping and serving customers. Her eldest daughter Shannon accompanies Knight several days a week at the shop. When they were growing up, all of her children came to the shop after school and did homework and helped out. “They learned at an early age that you don’t just acquire what you want,” said Knight. “You have to work for it.