News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
What is your name(s) and the name of your business?
Sarah and Mark Cotrupi. The name of our business is “The Porch.”
How/when did you get to Sandwich, NH? Life before Sandwich?
We visited Sandwich regularly for the past 10 years but only became Sandwich property owners two years ago when we bought Polly Jewett’s house.
Before Sandwich Mark and I lived in Nebraska City, Nebraska for about 30 years. It was there that Mark retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency as well as his 28 year career as an Air Force active duty and reserve member. We were both intelligence officers in the Air Force but I separated after seven years and started “Peppercricket Farm,” an antique store and Bed and Breakfast.
This was our first restoration project and was located on our 15 acre farm, utilizing the barn as a shop and workroom. I discovered quickly that selling antiques was way more fun than running a B&B and spent the next 15 years refinishing and selling antiques.
In 2005 we bought and restored a double storefront in Nebraska City and opened a home décor and gift shop called The Keeping Room. Our plan was always to eventually move to New England (Mark has family in Vermont and we learned to love it on our many buying trips for the antique business). Now approaching 50 we decided it was time to move. We sold the business and came to New Hampshire about 10 years ago.
How/why did you start your business?
Mark and I always wanted to restore another old house and looked at dozens of homes in the New England area over the years and never could find “the one” to restore. Too expensive, wrong location, beyond our capabilities etc etc.
Then there was this big old yellow one with the awesome porch. Mark loved it right away and I couldn’t wait to paint it!! So we bought it and got to work. We weren’t sure what kind of business we were going to start but the longer we worked on it the more sure I was that it had to be retail. This house was meant to be shared with others.
Tell us about your business. What do you make, do, or offer?
The Porch features an eclectic blend of antique, vintage and new home décor as well as a women’s clothing line. The building, with all of its natural light, high ceilings and expansive floorspace provides a great backdrop in which to showcase the merchandise. The antique furnishings also blend in nicely with the new items so that customers can better visualize what they may look like in their own home or office.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your job?
The restoration process of the house and working on antique furniture that will have a new home are definitely the most satisfying, but finding inventory with Mark and setting up displays with my sister Chris Milanovich are the most fun. Mark calls it “playing house”!
The one on one conversation we have with our customers is also a fun part of the job. It is truly amazing where folks are from, their background and what their plans are for the pieces they buy from us. We both love the interaction with our growing customer base at The Porch.
What is the hardest?
The days when no one comes in. It happens in all retail but is never easy.
What are your goals and hopes for the future?
To become a shopping destination that brings more people to Sandwich to appreciate the unique beauty of the community. We are looking at expanding the shop into the second floor to complement what we already have in the barn and first floor. The architecture of this house lends itself to display and is something we want to take advantage of.
What else can you tell us about yourself and your life in Sandwich?
Our number one priority in our lives are our two daughters Helen, who is now a freshman at Stonehill College, and Mary Lynn, who is a junior at Moultonborough Academy. Family is a very big part of our lives and something we have learned to cherish.
We truly love the town and the folks who live here and the surrounding communities. Sitting on the front porch of the shop in the summer invites conversation with all who walk or ride by. We hope to be doing it for many years to come.
12/21/2021 09:59:06 am
Here is the very definition of "entrepreneur". What a marvelous thing to have this classic house restored to former glory and then to be open for a remarkable business. Clearly they know what they are about. The Porch is a testimonial to the faith that Sandwich can relive its former glory days.
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