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The Purple Tree – a shop with purpose

The downtown Hudson store carries products aimed at reducing the planet’s overall carbon footprint

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January 22, 2024

HUDSON – Located in the heart of Hudson’s historic downtown lies The Purple Tree, a specialty retail store (516 2nd St.), which features items good for both people and the planet.

Erin Nelson, who now owns the shop with her husband Mitch, said the business – a building that originally housed an opera house dating to the late 1800s – was opened in 2004 by the Bruch family (Dan and Liz and their daughters Angela, Sarah and Leah).

Erin said the Bruch family aimed to create a retail space focused on inclusivity and hope interwoven into eco-friendly, fair-trade and sweatshop-free products.

“The Bruch family created the store as a place for people to feel good about purchases, to know that every dollar spent helps the planet, nonprofits or makes a meaningful difference in the lives of real people,” Erin said.

Hoping to unite the tight-knit community along the Mississippi River, Erin said the Bruch family was intentional with the shop’s name – using it to reflect on a joint respect for each other and the planet.

With purple being a mix between the colors red and blue, Erin said the Bruchs saw it as a good representation of unity between the country’s two predominant political sides that often find themselves divided.

The tree, Erin said, symbolized the Bruchs’ hope for the future by putting down roots, reaching out to the community and growing together.

Erin said her family – who have been residents of Husdon since 2015 – were no strangers to the shop and its mission.

“We have long loved the store and its products,” she said. “When the Bruch family decided to sell, we bought it simply because we love the store and what it stands for and want it to continue to be part of our community.”

The Nelsons purchased the store in 2022.

Erin said after raving about the Hudson area to her extended family for quite some time, they, too, decided to make the move.

“Our kids love growing up close to their grandparents, aunts and cousins,” she said.

More about the Nelsons

Erin – a native of the Twin Cities – graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, and worked in the nonprofit sector for much of her adult life.

Originally from Milaca, Minnesota, Mitch grew up on a farm and said he has always appreciated the tenacity and strength small communities can build when working together.

The St. Cloud State University graduate said his path eventually led him into retail management and business supply chain positions – roles he held until they purchased The Purple Tree.

“We joke that our combined work history makes for a perfect Purple Tree owner,” Erin said.

Though there are several other clothing boutiques and gift shops in the St. Croix Valley, the Nelsons said their love for and commitment to the planet and its people are what sets them apart.

Erin said the brands The Purple Tree carries all give back in one way or another – something the pair said they are proud of and believe attracts return customers.

“We have loyal customers who travel to us from all over the Midwest,” she said. “As a tourist community, we welcome so many visitors all year round.”

Erin said most of the shop’s customers share in their appreciation for the planet and the global community in general.

She said the store offers products that aim to reduce the overall carbon footprint and support waste reduction.

Some of the brands available at The Purple Tree include Adventura, Toad & Company, Patagonia, prAna, The Naked Bee, Topo, Hydro Flask, Pistil and Swig Life.

A part of the community

Community collaborations, Erin said, are also important to them and the shop’s mission – one being a project with the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.

“We are working with their graphic design class to have them… design an Earth Day T-shirt for our store to sell in 2024,” she said.

As self-described proud members of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce, the Nelsons said they do what they can to also support the community they call home.

Erin said the store is collecting funds through February for the Hudson Regional Library through a nationally trending Blind Date with a Book promotion.

For $3, customers will receive a donated book wrapped to conceal the cover/title – with funds raised benefiting the library.

“You get a couple of hints on genre and plot to make your choice,” she said. “But it’s a blind date with a book.”

In honor of International Women’s Day in March, The Purple Tree will offer special items in what The Nelsons are calling the “feminist icon” section of the store, such as mugs with inspirational quotes from trailblazing women.

Each year, Erin said the store donates the proceeds from these items to a different nonprofit – with last year’s donation going to Turningpoint for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Abuse in River Falls.

Winter hours at The Purple Tree are from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday.

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