Member Profile: Melissa Palermo of Island Sensory Shoppe in Staten Island

Date: April 06, 2016

Faced with limited options for finding therapeutic tools for her son, Melissa Palermo took the initiative and opened her own shop.

Member Profile: Melissa Palermo of Island Sensory Shoppe in Staten Island

Personal experience with her own son’s developmental needs showed Melissa Palermo that the only options available for purchasing therapeutic tools and toys—like special ordering online—made it difficult for parents to feel and see the products they were purchasing for their children.

She decided to address the issue, and opened Island Sensory Shoppe in October 2015, offering therapy tools, sensory integration products and developmental toys to help in the growth of children with Sensory Processing disorder, Autism, AD(H)D and other developmental delays. The sole proprietor and worker, Palermo welcomes families to come touch, feel and find the perfect tools and toys for each individual’s needs.

How did Island Sensory get started? ?

I had the idea to open Island Sensory Shoppe after years of having to order items online for my son. I realized there isn’t a place available for parents and therapists to go to for the tools and products for their children and students without having to order online.

What is the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Hearing parents and therapists tell me how happy they are that a place like this exists. 

How is it doing business in New York State?

This is my first business (and hopefully last) so I do not have anything to compare it to, but it is difficult. Rents are high which makes it very difficult to meet overhead. 

What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you face in owning your own business?

High overhead costs.  Although the purpose of my store is to have a physical location to be able to see products before purchasing as well as not having to wait for delivery, it is still difficult to compete with online sites that are able to offer free shipping. I try to keep my pricing as low as I can but it is still hard to compete when there are websites like Amazon where companies can sell their items at extremely low pricing with free shipping. How can you compete with that? My store is less than a year old, so my hope is that over time business will grow and I can be here for parents and therapist for a long time. 

You just recently joined NFIB, what made you decide to do so?

I’m happy to be a member of an agency that fights for small business rights.

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