At the top of Main Street in Nantucket, Massachusetts, sits this veritable retail legend. Originally known as the island’s main supplier of the essentials, Murray’s was always a source for footwear, waders, hunting clothes and foul weather gear. Over the years, however, it has grown to be known as Nantucket’s department store, a reliable stop for just about anything that one might need. However, what has really put this little family owned store on the map, so to speak, is what is affectionately known as the Nantucket Reds, Murray’s exclusive line of clothing that is recognized world-wide as a connection to this little island off the coast of Massachusetts.
The store was purchased by Philip Murray in 1945, and by the early 1950’s, his son Philip C. Murray had returned from Virginia to resume island life and take over the business. In 1963, he purchased the Louis Coffin Dry Goods store (located next door) and turned it into what is now the women’s department.
It was in the 1960’s that Philip C. Murray introduced the now iconic Nantucket Reds. They were pants that were made of a red canvas fabric meant to fade over time, resembling the color of the sails that dotted the coast of Brittany, France. In 1980, it was time to trademark the line, as its popularity had grown and it was quickly becoming a symbol of island life. With the publication of the “Official Preppy Handbook,” Murray’s gained notoriety as the official island outfitter, and while many retailers have attempted to imitate the product, Murray’s authenticity and that original label have kept the tradition alive. That familiar faded pink appears now in skirts, hats, and overalls, as a reminder of summers spent sipping martinis at the Club Car, attending weddings at the Nantucket Yacht Club or walking eighteen holes at Sankaty Golf Club.
Today, the tradition of a friendly and family experience is carried on by Philip’s two children, John and Trish. As this year marks the store’s 75th year in business, they dedicate themselves to maintaining the atmosphere that their father created. They welcome locals and visitors alike, and offer what is arguably the island’s most diverse and comprehensive shopping experience, with clothing, footwear, and accessories for men, women and children.