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Linda Durgan and her son Keith on the opening day of The Pitted Olive in July 2014. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
Linda Durgan and her son Keith on the opening day of The Pitted Olive in July 2014. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Linda Durgan and her late husband, David, used to fantasize about moving to a little village and running a business — a bed-and-breakfast, perhaps, or a small shop in a seaside village.

Now, 10 years after David passed away from a heart attack at the age of 60, Linda has made their dream come true.

Durgan, a longtime Lake Grove resident who now lives in Jamesport, opened The Pitted Olive, an oil and vinegar shop on Main Road in Jamesport, this past summer. At age 69, it’s the first business Durgan has owned, though she has many years of retail experience.

Durgan said the shop is thriving despite being closed for a few months while she recovered from a December car accident and that she hopes to come back stronger than ever this spring.

Q: Why now?

A: Basically I wanted to start a new part of my life. I didn’t want to retire. I wanted to keep on going and try something new, something to fill the last 30 years of my life. I wanted something on the North Fork but I didn’t want to be involved in the winery business. And I love it! It’s working well. We had a good 2014. I’m looking forward to having a good year. We thought I’d be open for the winter but this [accident] deterred me a little.

Q: What are the advantages of starting a business at this point in your life?

A: For myself and for your well-being, it keeps you alive and well and gives you a purpose. It keeps me active. I’ve had over 35 years of retail experience, so I feel I can bring in a lot of people. I like to educate people about the products and help them experience something new. I like to be a part of the community and show them anybody can accomplish what they want. They do question it, I’ve noticed, without saying those words. I tell them I just want to keep on going. There’s nothing wrong with retiring, but I needed something new.

Q: What are the challenges?

A: I will be honest; you are older. Your mind is going like the Energizer Bunny but your body is slowing down. The disadvantage is knowing that when the end of the day comes, you have to relax. Don’t try to do too much at once. I’ve got so many ideas and they’re not going to happen at once.

Q: What does the future hold?

A: I’d like to offer more in the store — different tasting platters, using local produce, bringing in more foods people can taste. I had one cooking event in November and I’d like to do more cooking events in the store. I’d like to partner with some of the inns to do oil-and-vinegar-tasting dinners. I love to do events. I will be hiring someone to help at the store. I’m excited about 2015.

Q: Any advice to other women looking to start a business?

A: Really research which type of business you are going to open. Research the location — that’s the number one issue — and research what goes into the store. Research the products. Research local laws. Just do your research. I went to food shows ahead of time to see what was out there. See what the people in your area are looking for. That’s why I went for Wine Country. Pick an area that likes small businesses and they will be supportive.

This story was originally published in the 2015 edition of northforker 50+ magazine

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