Summer Shades — Our History

by Margret Thompson, Store Manager on Nantucket

Margret Thompson, the storekeeper at the Nantucket Summer Shades, hails from Bremen, Germany. Her son Andrew Aliberti owns Summer Shades.

Mrs. Thompson, who has been managing the store on Nantucket for 22 years, likes to tell the story of how she got started there. “Andrew said, ‘Ma, I think I want to open a store on Nantucket.’ And I said, ‘Where the heck is that?’ He explained and I went over and we looked at a place there and I said, ‘You will never make it.’” Mrs. Thompson thought the location was too far off the main street. Young Mr. Aliberti thought that over but then said, “I don’t know, I have a good feeling about it.” Soon after that he signed a contact.

“We then hired a store manager,” Mrs. Thompson goes on. “She was part-time and worked Monday to Wednesday, and it didn’t work out. So I continued and started running it. I enjoyed it right away,” she says.

She liked the place so much that she decided to move in. The store has an apartment above it, so the store serves as both her residence and place of business during the season.

Before moving to Nantucket, Mrs. Thompson had helped in other stores of Andrew’s, such as one in South Hampton, Long Island, and the Cambridge, Mass., store.

There are some key differences between the Nantucket store and the one in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard. For example, the Martha’s Vineyard store has four showcases, whereas the Nantucket store has only three.

“The Martha’s Vineyard store is a better store, but I prefer my store better,” she says with a smile, using a very catchy and emphatic way of putting it.

In retail one has to have a great deal of patience. That’s something Mrs. Thompson has in abundance. She plans to continue running the Nantucket store and nurturing its unique style. She’s willing to devote more time and effort to the store, since it gives her such great joy.

You can see that joy on her face when she describes the store’s clients. “The customers are unbelievable. I absolutely love being in the store and meeting the people,” she explains, noting that they come from all over the world—England, Italy, her own homeland of Germany, and many other points all around the globe.

As for brands of high-fashion glasses, the store carries many of the same ones that the Martha’s Vineyard store carries. Mrs. Thompson fancies Oliver Peoples for herself, though Chanel is also very popular, she says. Maui Jims and Ray-Bans are also favorites, in part because they are polarized for summer life on and near the water.

Mrs. Thompson winters in Canton, Mass., and summers on Nantucket. With the beginning of the season not too far off, she will soon be getting ready to head out to the Island. The store will open in the middle of April and remain open through the middle of October.

Readers who would like to set up an appointment before the April opening of the store can call another one of Mrs. Thompson’s sons—Chuck Aliberti—at 508-325-5530, or reach him via regular mail at 6 Courtyard, Nantucket, MA 02554.

Summer Shades, the original store, is located on Martha’s Vineyard. Our store is owed and operated by Andrew and Sarah Aliberti. We also own Summit Shades in Colorado and Summer Shades on Nantucket.

Summer Shades opened its doors on Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1985.