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Ligonier merchants celebrate 40 years in business

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Bill Pribisco | for Trib Total Media
David and Cindy Purnell and their dog Cedar at the Post and Rail Shop mark 40 years in business in Ligonier.

The Post and Rail Men’s Shop, located on the Diamond at 104 East Main St., recently celebrated 40 years in business.

David and Cindy Purnell have been providing classic men’s clothing to the Ligonier Valley and surrounding communities since they purchased the business in 1974.

“It’s wonderful being an entrepreneur in Ligonier,” said Purnell, “An incredible experience. Ligonier has an aura; we have people walking around the Diamond and visiting the area from all over.”

The shop carries sweaters, dress and casual slacks, ties, socks, footwear and more in a variety of name brands.

Changes through the years have included the addition of Vera Bradley products such as handbags, totes and wallets.

Many local residents associate the Post and Rail Men’s Shop with the life-sized statue of the golden retriever that sits outside the establishment. ‘Tye,’ who holds a sign to welcome customers, has become somewhat of a mascot for the shop.

David Purnell, who said he has had a love of the breed since boyhood, purchased the stature in Las Vegas during a buying trip 12 years ago.

“He wears a tie around his neck,” said Purnell. “And in the winter, he wears a scarf.”

Cedar, Purnell’s eighth golden retriever, is also a fixture at the shop.

“She has been coming in every day since she was 8 weeks old,” Purnell said. “She’s great company.”

Purnell said Cedar loves to greet the customers and even has a few favorites.

“She recognizes some customers who bring her treats,” he said.

For 29 years, Post and Rail was housed in the 500-square-foot area where the Vera Bradly products are now displayed. When Purnell learned of the opportunity to expand the business by purchasing the storefront beside his, he said he jumped at the opportunity.

“For 11 years we’ve been here in the larger space,” said Purnell, who remodeled and connected the two spaces to create a larger shop to display his merchandise.

“Everything has changed so much in 40 years — we’ve upgraded the shop and the products we now carry; there have been incredible changes in the retail industry over the last 40 years.”

The Purnells purchased Post and Rail from a previous owner, who wished to keep the shop in the hands of a Ligonier resident.

“This is the first and only job I’ve ever had,” said David Purnell, who grew up in the Ligonier Valley. “Not a lot of people can say that they’ve only worked at one place.”

After retiring from Kauffman’s where she was employed for 25 years, Cindy Purnell joined her husband at the shop.

“Ligonier is a wonderful, unique town that really pulls together,” Cindy Purnell said. “All the businesses support each other. If a customer comes in searching for something we don’t carry, we send them to another store in town.”

The Purnells have traveled across the country to purchase quality clothing for Post and Rail. During a recent trip to Philadelphia, they made arrangements to purchase summer items for the shop.

“We discuss what customers might like before we fill the store,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult because we purchase six months in advance.”

Post and Rail sees many repeat customers from all over the region.

Purnell said he also ships out orders and has done so to customers as far away as Australia.

“It’s pretty exciting that we’ve been here for 40 years,” said Cindy Purnell. “Not very may stores can say that nowadays. It’s been a lot of work and we’ve had ups and downs, but mostly ups.”

Cami DiBattista is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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