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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Rug Shop

Palompo’s, Renton’s Rugs, and their family connection

Coffee and rug lovers alike are surely familiar with Renton’s Rugs and Palompo’s coffee shop, nestled next to each other behind matching green and red facades on South Street. From the cheery exteriors, large windows, and artfully decorated interiors — it’s easy to notice subtle parallels between the two. This isn’t entirely by accident.

Renton’s Rugs was founded in 1976. In 1995, Douglas Renton — the current owner of the shop and building — began running the business after taking it over from his father. Palompo’s has been run for the last year by Archie Renton — Douglas’s son. 

Until about five years ago, the whole building was the rug shop — but when business rates kept increasing, Douglas decided to split it into two storefronts and rent out one of them. When the vendor who had been using the space’s lease ran out last year, Archie jumped on the opportunity and Palompo’s moved in, opening March 2023. 

Since opening last year, business has boomed for Palompo’s. With high-quality coffee, a comfortable and elevated aesthetic, and homemade food and pastry, it’s no wonder why. 

Archie explained that much of the inspiration for the shop’s hospitality came from his mother's side of the family, which is Italian. He explained that he had “always grown up around food and coffee and stuff, with big Sunday dinners,” so opening a coffee shop felt natural. In fact, ‘Palompo’ is his mother's maiden name. 

The ties are even deeper behind the scenes. While Palompo’s is most known for its coffee, it also offers a range of sandwiches and pastries that are made in the shop each morning. Archie explained that “my nonna comes in each morning and makes all the cannolis and pastries for the shop” — a fact that was even more understandable upon the revelation that the family had formerly owned Joe’s Cafe, where Tailend now resides. 

Douglas’s wife and Archie’s mother also runs Cameron Guest House — a bed and breakfast on Murray Place. But she’s also made her mark on both shops as well. Douglas explained that “she’s done a lot of shifts and helping, especially at the start [of Palompo’s].” “She comes in and does the windows and helps out,” he added.

Other family members help out frequently, as well. Archie detailed how, sometimes, if there’s a big queue, his sister will “step out of line and help for half an hour or so.” 

While the family clearly understands the value of a small business, apparently many students do, as well. As the coffee shop has developed a reputation over the past year, they’ve collected a handful of regulars — students and locals alike — largely due to their proximity to St Mary’s Quad. 

“The students are underrated with their views on the small businesses,” Archie reflected. 

Many students — as well as lecturers and other university faculty — come in every day, valuing the act of supporting and engaging with small businesses. 

While Palompo’s is on the rise with just a year under its belt, Archie made clear that, while he hopes to expand the shop one day, he “wouldn’t want to move away from St Andrews.'' 

Having run the rug shop for over 25 years, Douglas, in contrast, hopes to spend more time in his future playing golf and enjoying the town, planning to shift away from the storefront and work more on an appointment-only basis. 

There are many benefits to working next door to each other — the first one being free coffee and hot chocolate for Douglas. But they also reflected that it's nice to have “chats when it’s quiet and see each other most days.” Douglas also stated that seeing Archie busy each day, and having a front row to his success “gives him a buzz.”

For Archie, his father is a valuable asset because of his decades of business experience. He is an invaluable outlet for advice, and also someone to commiserate with over the trials and tribulations of being a small business owner. 

Their proximity has also benefited both of their businesses. Douglas shared that, frequently, customers will come in to look at a rug and ask about the coffee next door. He explained that many of his regulars have become regulars with Palompo’s, as well, and that people “love the fact” that the two are related. On the contrary, customers will also visit Palompo’s for a coffee and pop over to Renton’s rugs to browse. 

The connection between the two shops is a unique one, and the families' impact upon St Andrews is mighty. Despite the sharp contrast between selling rugs and selling coffee, each shop has made its own mark on the town and certainly will continue to do so over the next few decades. Both Palompo’s and Renton’s Rugs, shaped by the passions and skills of each generation and supported by the people of St Andrews — as well as by their own family — have a rich history of experience to back it up. 

Photo: Ilaria Freccia


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