May 2021
Landing On Her Feet
The Purple Cat Perseveres

“I’m enthusiastic, fun, and interesting,” she says, with a laughing smile. It’s hard to argue with that after spending just a few minutes with Shari Graham of The Purple Cat Bookstore and Mini Gallery.

Shari Graham greets a customer with a smile.

I asked her how The Purple Cat bookstore came to be. “I sold my tax business and decided to work part-time at the bookstore that was just next door at the time. Not long after that a new owner moved the shop. I decided to look into finding some inventory and leasing an open space next door to start my own shop. An opportunity presented itself, and I got to do it just the way I wanted.”

“Why ‘The Purple Cat’?”

“I wanted something whimsical and just kinda fun. I wanted to create a whimsical, colorful, and inviting place, and the name captures that, I think.”

“What books have you read this past year that have touched you or helped you?”

“I really don’t read as much as I used to, sadly, but I really enjoyed the The Walk series.”

“Oh, the series by Richard Paul Evans?”

“Yes. And what I liked about it was it wasn’t so drippy-sappy like some of the others, but certainly is heartwarming and gave you some things to think about. The main character was just kind of like, ‘I’m having an hellacious time and I’m gonna just do this walk,’ and he kept going. I relate because the adventures you have in your life — and I use ‘adventures’ on purpose, because it’s not always on-the-surface good stuff. It’s challenges. Look at me. Look at the challenges. I would have told you two and a half years ago that I could never have done what I’ve been doing, and I mean that. You know I thought I’d done a lot of rough things, including losing my husband. But this has been … .”

Shari opened up about the last two-plus years, revealing some of her private concerns, culminating at the end of 2019 with a severe health issue for her oldest son. This led to him moving in with her, which turned both of their lives upside-down. Suddenly Shari found herself spending all of her time tending to her son and looking for answers.

“One of the things I’ve really missed is theatre. I was involved with Prescott Center for the Arts for quite a few years, and loved it! The people and the creativity filled me. When Covid hit, those doors shut. One of the reasons I have local artists and their artwork in my shop is to enjoy other people’s creativity. Plus it makes my shop look great!”

“With not only the pandemic, which has wiped out many businesses, but having so much of your attention now focused on finding help for your son, how has this affected the shop?”

“I’ve really been blessed with some wonderful people working for me. My employees really pulled it together after we opened back up after the seven-week shutdown, they were just a godsend. I have just recently hired a couple of new people, who are just so good with everything, and they have creative ideas and are really dedicated to making the shop a success. I’m so thankful.”

“Have you been able to come back and work at the shop yourself?”

“Yes, I have worked out a schedule now that allows me to be there a couple days a week. It’s been wonderful greeting people when they come in and showing them around. I’ve really missed that.”

“What do you do for fun?”

“Keeping the shop up and going and caring for my son keeps me busy. I have good friends, though, thankfully, and I keep in touch with them. I’ve even dated some, though it’s hard to find time for that. However (laughs), if a special guy comes along, I’ll manage it!”

“What would you say is the primary thing that has helped you keep it together this last year?”

Shari sat back and thought for a moment. “Well, I’ll tell you what. I have had to keep my sense of humor. I think I’m pretty positive anyway, but you must keep your sense of humor, because the times when I lose that are when I dive, and you must keep some perspective. You’ve got to remember that life’s worthwhile, it’s a beautiful day, and there’s more going on than Covid and my own personal challenges.”

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