By Christine Russo
Special to News is my Business
While Puerto Rico continues to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane María, a pair of entrepreneurs are determined to bring together community through their commitment to making people happy.
Palmas Del Mar had been hit particularly hard by María as it is located in Humacao – where the storm made landfall. Thirteen months later, cut to two entrepreneurs determined to join the redevelopment of the community and you get Coco’s-at-the-Yacht Club, located at the Yacht Club in the Palmas Del Mar. Coco’s is a celebration of community helmed by owners Nicole Comis and Davey Napoli, business partners and long-time friends.
Catering to locals and tourist alike, the store is meant to, not only sell items, but to create a place of optimism, opportunity and accessibility. What drives Comis and Napoli? They love to create inviting spaces where both diverse and familiar groups can gather. Book signings are a particularly meaningful way the store brings together the community. Forty minutes outside of San Juan, these engaging and experiential moments define the rehabilitated and reborn Palmas del Mar.
Comis and Napoli hadn’t planned to open this store. The opportunity came upon them and their desire to normalize an area that was so traumatized was a great opportunity for them to flex their retail muscles. Great merchants, with even bigger hearts, and motivated by a deep pride, they forged their role in contributing to the economic development of the island.
This investment of time and money to grow a business in an adverse environment, sets the example for other investors and entrepreneurs. Palmas del Mar is an evolving development and retail is a major component.
Prior to opening this contemporary boutique, Palmas del Mar did not have the reputation for quality shopping. The majority of shops were focused on souvenirs at resorts shops. The need and desire for better quality shopping AND to be the first to do it, exemplifies the all-in spirit of Comis and Napoli.
An unfortunate aftermath Abandoned animals became an unfortunate aftermath of Hurricane María. Hundreds of dogs and cats were forsaken after the hurricane amid the rush to survive. Existing shelters were severely damaged; many shelters suffered physical damage such as lost roofs.
As animal lovers and pet owners, Comis and Napoli have made a financial commitment to the community and will donate 5% of the store’s first-year profits to local charities, including one that helps relocate household pets abandoned in the storm.
Comis and Napoli hope that Palmas del Mar will never be the same as it was and with their contributions and those of others, the area will continue to grow economically and bring together the community.
The addition of their boutique, new restaurants, and activities for both locals and tourists will drive the redevelopment and growth of a “beautiful gem of an area on a beautiful island.”