Vineyard Vines will open in Vineyard Haven

“The good life” comes to Main Street.

The friendly pink whale is coming to Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Louisa Hufstader

Vineyard Vines, with its preppy, vacation-inspired clothing, has become a household name on Martha’s Vineyard, with stores in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. The company has purchased the former Midnight Farm building at 44 Main Street in Vineyard Haven, and will soon open a third Island store there.

Vineyard Vines is known for its decorated ties, a fun play on the classic button-down, brightly colored breaker pants, and the pink whale logo that’s displayed on many a car in the summer months on the Vineyard.

Ann Nelson and Robert Marshall sold the building previously occupied by Midnight Farm, and for years before that by Bunch of Grapes bookstore, for $1.275 million, according to the Massachusetts Land Records database through the Dukes County Registry of Deeds.

Midnight Farm closed its doors in December. —Stacey Rupolo
Midnight Farm closed its doors in December. —Stacey Rupolo

Vineyard Vines’ public relations declined to comment on when the store would open.

Brothers Shep and Ian Murray, the company’s CEOs, founded Vineyard Vines in 1998, and opened their first store in Edgartown. Though the company is based in Stamford, Conn., the brothers grew up spending summers on the Island. The company has 100 retail stores nationwide, along with a web-based store, and wholesale partnerships with Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, and other high-end department stores.

According to Forbes magazine, Vineyard Vines is estimated to have annual sales over $100 million.

“We are thrilled to be opening a store in Vineyard Haven, and are committed to maintaining its charm and history,” Shep Murray said in an email to The Times on Wednesday.

“Growing up on the Island, we spent a lot of time in Vineyard Haven and on Main Street, visiting Bunch of Grapes bookstore, so it’s always been a place that’s very close to our hearts,” Ian Murray said in the same email.

The brothers were living with their parents when they began their careers in New York City in the 1990s. By 1998, they were both disenchanted with Manhattan corporate life, and quit their jobs within 10 minutes of each other.

They told their story in a Wall Street Journal video in September, saying that their idea for ties with iconic Vineyard images sprang from their experiences in the corporate world. Wall Street types couldn’t exactly wear a souvenir T shirt to work on Monday after enjoying a relaxing Vineyard weekend, but they could wear a tie.

Why not “wear icons of the good life to work,” the brothers asked in the video. First they developed a line of ties, and then tote bags with silk trim with the same symbols of “the good life.”

Their first 800 ties were delivered on July 3, 1998, and sold out in the first week, according to the Vineyard Vines website. The brothers quickly reordered, paid off their debt, and moved into their first office. They’ve continued to expand ever since.

Previously at 44 Main Street, Dawn Braasch bought Bunch of Grapes bookstore in 2013 from Jon Nelson and leased the building from his mother, Ann Nelson, who had owned it since 1975. Ms. Nelson had run the store since 1964, was a force among independent booksellers and was for a time president of the Independent Booksellers Association.

Midnight Farm moved to the building in 2012, and closed in December 2016.

Several stores have closed recently in downtown Vineyard Haven, and Melinda Loberg, chairman of the Tisbury selectmen, told the Times on Tuesday that although she hadn’t yet heard confirmation of Vineyard Vines’ opening, she was excited to hear the news after all the discussion of Main Street being “troubled.” She said it was good to see that stores still want a home in Vineyard Haven.

“It would be a great addition to the town,” Ms. Loberg said. “Vineyard Vines is a nice store.”