The story behind the patches at The Pier Peddler

“Was your father a policeman?”

Anyone who has worked at The Pier Peddler over the last 35 years knows the story behind the hundreds of patches that line the walls of the store. And it all started with one…from Chicago.

My father was an interesting man and he collected a great assortment of interesting people! He wasn’t what you’d call a conversationalist though he could tell a joke like no one else in the world! People loved to talk him, and he listened…or at least tried to look as if he was! To this day I have people come to the stores and share stories about him with me. One woman told me last year that my dad had given her a pin for no reason at all…and to this day she cherishes it because no one had ever shown her such a kindness. My father was notorious for giving away merchandise! He once told me, and rightly so, “Anita, being in business isn’t just about making money…” He was wonderful. Memorable.

So, back to the patches! One his cronies, as I always called them, was a very nice man named John who was on the Chicago police force. He’d visit the beach with his family regularly and every time he was there he would stop by to say hello to my dad and tell him that “one day I’m going to retire and come work for you so I can stand here and watch bikinis walk by all day…” They would laugh and my dad would say yeah, yeah, yeah.

Then one day, it happened. John walked in to the store, walked around the cash register area and with a thumbtack put his Chicago police patch on the wall! The rest is history so they say. From that one patch it became an almost daily event for someone to ask if my father a policeman, would we put their patch up if they brought it in, how do we decide where to place them, how many do we have, would we ever sell them?

35 years later it’s an extraordinary collection that we are proud to display. Each patch represents someone who has been there and someone who has given their time to service of one sort or another. There are fire department badges, police, international patches, park service…you name it, it’s there. And they are beautiful! Each patch has a story, and if my dad was still here he’d share those stories with you with a great sense of appreciation and pride.

When we remodeled the shop in 2019 the patches were a huge part of the design! I include a video here that we did as we were putting them up again…pardon my appearance, it was a long day! I hope you enjoy it.

chicago

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