We talked to: Gazebo

We recently spoke to Amy Dickinson and Donna McNeight of Gazebo in Northampton. Their commitment to the store, their customers, and this community is truly heartwarming.

Tell us the story of Gazebo and how long the store has been open.

The shop has been open for 42 years, but we (Amy and Donna) just assumed ownership four years ago. We were previous long-time employees, so it made sense for us to take over and continue this legacy. We also have Emma, one of our team members who has been here for over 40 years, and remains part of the heart and soul of the shop. Northampton has always felt like the ideal place for the Gazebo, and over the years we have cultivated so many wonderful and long-lasting relationships with customers, which we both value and cherish. We are committed to making women feel and look their best, in a supportive and non-judgmental environment with an expert team. Once a month, Donna travels to Pittsfield to assist women at the cancer center there. There are very few boutiques who specialize in post-mastectomy fittings, so we want to help as many women as possible, especially those who were going through cancer treatment and cannot travel very far.

What do you love/appreciate most about the business community in Northampton?

We all truly support and help each other to succeed, grow, and thrive. There is not a sense of competition that you might find in other towns or cities--everyone reaches out and offers help, support, advice, and encouragement. There is a strong  sense of community here, and many wonderful and enduring women-run businesses. We love carrying on the tradition of helping women feel great about themselves, and we love supporting our fellow women business owners as they have supported us. The DNA and Chamber are also fantastic, supportive resources that want this city to continue to thrive and grow.  There’s a level of service from small businesses in Northampton that you won’t get at a mall or big box store, and that’s very important to us. When you support small businesses you support the community, and that happens on a regular basis here.

What do you love/appreciate most about Northampton in general?

It’s a unique and special town--it is called the Happy Valley for a reason. There is a phenomenal arts community, and there is always an event going on, from concerts to art exhibits. The sense of community is exceptional, as well as the sense of safeness we feel in general living and working here. We love how much diversity is celebrated and encouraged here--people can be who they want and feel supported in that. There’s so much access to CISAs, farmers markets, local produce stands, and the community as a whole is committed to supporting local farmers. There’s this “big city feel” to Northampton, but with a unique close-knit community vibe. We also love how you can literally find treasures on every corner in our beloved city!

What positive things do you see happening in Northampton?

We love seeing businesses that began in the 1970s being passed on to new owners, as happened here at the Gazebo. Other stores such as Cornucopia and A2Z also  “passed the torch” and their legacies will continue. We love the bonds and relationships that business owners (and staff members) create and cultivate with customers in Northampton--there’s a sense of mutual trust, care, and concern. Northampton is still a very viable, vibrant place to own a business, live, and raise a family, and we feel that will continue to be the case well into the future.

Are there any events you are particularly excited about, either in Northampton in general or at the store?

We will have some upcoming trunk shows throughout the year, as well as special sales. We offer workshops a couple of times a year, run by Dr. Jane Fleishman, an award-winning sexuality professional with a PhD in Human Sexuality. She lives locally, and is a wonderfully positive, knowledgeable force within our community and beyond. We also always get excited about Sidewalk Sales in the summer, and Bag Day in the fall, as such events create a great energy and buzz downtown.

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