Mother’s Day at La Petite Maison
Nan Walsh has been the owner of La Petite Maison at 142 North Street for more than 20 years. The store was originally half its size. Then in 2009 they expanded and took over the corner space. Nan loves being downtown. “What we have is so special,” she said. “Having a real downtown that is so vibrant and precious.”
The shop sells a lot of soaps and fragrances. When the pandemic started, Nan got creative and put together the “quarantine survival kit.” It included an eye mask, a scented candle, a large bottle of liquid hand soap, a box of chocolates and hand cream, and it sold out very quickly. “People were ordering it and sending it to their friends,” she said.
For Mothers Day, she has done something similar with a diffuser, soap and hand cream. The store sells a lot of lingerie for Mother’s Day and currently has a sale where all sleepwear, robes and slippers are 25% off. “Everyone wants to stay in their pajamas these days,” she quipped. “That has been the gift of choice.” A beautiful line of jewelry is also very popular. “Statement pieces,” Nan calls them.
Many of the shop owners in the Square are part of the Hingham Downtown Business Association (HDA), a self-governing group that is “dedicated to making our downtown community a better place to do business, to work, to live and to visit.” Nan is not only a member of the HDA, but she also serves on the Executive Board. They have had to be mindful of the guidelines coming forward from the Governor’s mandates and have been working closely with Hingham’s Department of Public Health.
These mandates have forced the closure of stores like La Petite Maison, which means Nan has had to make modifications to the way she does business. “I’ve put as much as I can in the windows,” she said. “That has really worked out well because people are out and about doing window shopping.” When she is at the shop, she sees people walking by all the time “doing their social distancing with their masks on.” People have also reached out and asked her to come up with groupings of things, to help choose the perfect gift. “I am happy to do it,” said Nan. “To help them work within a budget.”
In addition to shipping orders, the store is also offering curbside pickup. “I have a basket, so when I know a customer is coming the bag is placed in the basket with their name on it,” said Nan. “I would say 90% of people are doing curbside pickup.” She is also doing local Hingham delivery. Signs posted on the doors tell customers how to contact her via phone and email, and she is also getting the word out through social media.
Nan thinks that some of these new ways of doing business just might stay after the store is open again. She has noticed that some people like the convenience of being able to place an order over the phone or by email and pick it up at their convenience. “I can see that going forward,” she said, “but I also think there are other people who want to come out and visit the stores again.
Customers frequently tell her that they miss coming in and looking around, and they have been doing what they can to keep one of their favorite shops afloat, like purchasing gift certificates. “My customers have been so loyal,” said Nan. “I am very happy and overwhelmed with the generosity of the whole community, and I’m so pleased that they’re continuing to support local businesses. The community understands just how precious the downtown is.”