Shop Talk is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Patti Vollkommer of Patti's Purple Plum in Andes.

How long have you lived in the area?

Being a teacher by day on Long Island, I am in Andes most weekends all year round in addition to spending summers and vacation breaks here, basically every chance I get. I love the area and the people.

Tell me about your business:

Patti's Purple Plum is a handmade craft business that does special orders and personalized pieces. I do a large number of door signs, key holders, ornaments and home decorations made from wood. The business is out of my home, but my work can be seen and purchased at the Country Emporium in Walton and at the many craft fairs that I attend.

Describe a typical day in your business:

A typical day in my business is settling down in the evenings and painting. I have a studio in my house and a garage full of wood tools. I love to come up with new and different items. I love painting and learning, so it is both a hobby and a business.

How did you get started in this line of work?

About four years ago, I had gone to Michael's Craft Store and purchased wooden Christmas stars. I decided to decorate them for the holiday. I had made one for a friend at work and before I knew it people were ordering more. I ended up selling 37 stars within two weeks. I became very excited and decided to start painting signs. I did hunting, fishing, surfing and other theme signs, and by the next spring, I was on my way to craft shows.

Where do you see this business in five years?

I want to keep doing what I am doing. I hope that my website will allow my business to expand.

Describe a memorable moment in your workplace:

There are many, but I can still remember with pride my first sale and the joy it brought me.

What is the most challenging part of what you do?

As challenges go, I would have to say that the current economy is hurting everyone. It is very hard to sell items when people are financially hurting. Although my prices are reasonable, my items are not yet "must-haves." Being in the Country Emporium will hopefully help get my name out. I have a website,, where people can see my work and contact me.

The most enjoyable?

I love creating things. Expression through art is really wonderful, and I love when a customer finds something that I made that is just perfect for them.

How do you define success for your business?

My sales success at these shows keeps my creative juices flowing, especially when I take on personalization and special orders. I am pleased to say I have not had an unhappy customer to my knowledge _ that's success to me!

What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?

The advantages are that I love it up here, it's beautiful and the people are great. The disadvantages have to do with the bad economy at this time _ it slows things down.

What sets you apart from your competitors?

I attend a lot of craft shows. If you don't, it is hard to get your name and your products out there for people to see. My customized work is very unique.

What advice would you give to someone trying to enter your field of work?

When it comes to advice, I'd say if you love it and can endure some good and bad times, follow your heart! I did and I love it!

Shop Talk interviews are conducted by Terry Hannum. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 217, or email

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