We talked to: A2Z Science & Learning Store
We recently spoke to André and Devon Boulay from A2Z Science & Learning Store. We had a lovely chat about the past, present, and future of the store and what makes them most excited about owning a business in Northampton. We love their energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to this amazing store!
Tell us about A2Z and about what made you assume ownership.
As a kid, André always looked forward to traveling from his hometown of Blandford to shop at A2Z and get a treat from Herrell’s. This love of A2Z and his interest in yo-yo-ing motivated him to ask if he could teach yo-yo classes at the store on a regular basis. That eventually transitioned into a sales position, which he realized he greatly enjoyed, as it allowed him to form relationships with the kids and parents who would frequent the store over the years. Even though he moved on briefly during grad school, he and Devon both found themselves working there yet again soon after. They both realized that the store is more than just about selling toys, but also about impacting the community, forming strong relationships with customers, and truly getting to know and understand customers’ interests and know more about their lives. When the previous owners were ready to move on, Andre and Devon agreed that taking over just felt right. And they love hearing about how A2Z affects the lives of the kids in the community, such as when students at the Nonotuck School were asked to share emotional experiences and A2Z popped up a number of times.
What do you love/appreciate most about the business community in Northampton?
We love how supportive and encouraging everyone is. There is not a sense of competition that you would find other areas. Instead, people enjoy coming together to collaborate, support each other’s efforts, and help each other grow. We are excited to be collaborating more as time goes on, such as our recent scavenger hunt, which involved placing a cute little toy at various businesses around town for kids to discover. We love having relationships with people like Justin from Assemble, Nate and Jade from Cornucopia, and Katie from 25 Central, and we appreciate that all of the business owners truly want to see Northampton thrive, succeed, and grow.
What do you love/appreciate most about Northampton in general?
We love how family-oriented it is, with a great school system and plenty for families to do. Northampton is a very accepting and open-minded, with great energy and a fun downtown. We love that people from out of town view Northampton as a destination--even people visiting from New York City appreciate the downtown, shops, restaurants, and arts & cultural activities. There is something truly unique about Northampton, with its combination of green spaces as well as places to shop and dine.
What positive things do you see happening in Northampton?
There are some great new businesses that have come in and are already adding positive things to the community, such as Blue Marble/Little Blue, Familiars, (fun)struction, Homestead, and others. And many of the businesses that have been here for years continue to thrive and contribute a positive energy to Northampton. There is so much good in this city, and things continue to grow, change, and evolve.
Are there any events you are particularly excited about, either in Northampton in general or at the store?
We just had our Neighborhood Toy Store Day, which featured some great deals on toys and some giveaways. We recently collaborated with Brent from (fun)Struction for a Lego box making workshop. We always look forward to Bag Day, as well as to regular Saturday events that feature tables with arts & crafts for kids to do. Christmas is our next big event--it’s definitely the biggest holiday for us all year. For events in general in town, we love the Tuesday Market, Summer Concert Series, kids’ movies at the Academy, and Arts Night Out.