Isolated by construction in the time of a pandemic, two longtime Med City retailers decided to join forces.
It started with Penny Bracken, the owner of Kismet consignment stores on North Broadway, visiting downtown Rochester. She was amazed by the extensive construction on the Peace Plaza and First Avenue Southwest that makes getting to once-busy shops and restaurants very difficult.
In a video on Facebook, she described the scene as looking like a “war zone.”
That experience inspired her to reach out to the owner of the quirky Tangerine gift store, which stands in the middle of the construction at 110 1st Ave. SW.
Bracken texted Joan Blakley-McCoy to propose adding a selection of Tangerine items inside Kismet. After a cup of coffee, the pair went to Bracken’s main Kismet store in the 600 block of North Broadway.
“Within about two hours, we carved out a spot for her merchandise,” Bracken said. “She got her best selling items. ... We had a store-within-a-store set up within about six hours.”
Blakley-McCoy said the pair worked together very well.
“We’re an awful lot alike. … It felt like a good fit,” she said of her merchandising of small items and Bracken’s expertise in displaying large things.
There was some concern that Tangerine’s eclectic selection of brightly colored, humorous items might not connect with customers looking at Kismet’s selection of used furniture and home goods. That worry ended as soon as Kismet shoppers discovered the Tangerine displays on Sept. 8.
“Right away, customers started giggling and laughing. I think it’s kind of a tonic,” Bracken said.
While Blakley-McCoy continues to run her downtown store as well as a growing online presence, she is pleased that the Kismet experiment is going with so well that she needed to replenish the stock of novelty face masks, magnets, coffee mugs and other items a couple of times within the first week.
In response to customer requests, Kismet is staying open an additional two hours until 6 p.m.
This is the latest addition to Bracken’s part of North Broadway. She leased one of her storefronts out to the Gallery 24 art collective a while back.
“”We have carved out one more reason for shoppers to come down to the 600 block of North Broadway,” Bracken said. “Kismet and Tangerine have survived this rocky patch in the road so far. We’re still here.”