We talked to: PLUM Boutique

Hi, Heidi! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business, PLUM Boutique?

I’m a Northampton native born and raised, so first and foremost this is my hometown.  I also have deep family roots in this area, including one set of grandparents who lived off of Market Street and another set of grandparents who lived in the Baystate area. I grew up between Northampton and Greenfield, with one parent living in each town. I’ve worked in so many places along Main street over the years, including both Bananarama and Gwen & Deb’s!

In Greenfield, I also worked at small businesses, and even helped open the People’s Pint back in the day. Then I returned to work in Northampton and was at Eastside Grill before pivoting to retail at the Artisan’s Gallery. Working at small businesses alongside the owners was really inspiring for me, and I learned so much from those experiences. Seeing Dan and Gayle work the front of the house at Eastside and greet guests, asking them about their lives/families was really meaningful. I knew I wanted PLUM to bring something like that to Greenfield—a space where people felt welcome, appreciated, and comfortable.

Our timing hitting Greenfield was unfortunately not ideal, due to the pandemic shutting everything down about two weeks after we first opened. But after lots of hard work to spread the word and pivot, we ended up cultivating a really amazing clientele there. But once we saw that this space was opening up, Tim (Fisk) and I felt we just had to jump at the chance to take it. We really wanted something small but centrally located, and as soon as we met with the landlord and discussed everything, we knew it was the right space at the right time.

What are some challenges you’ve experienced as well as some positive things that have transpired in the past several years?

Most notably, the pandemic. We had just opened in Greenfield and then everything shut down. I’d just left the job I’d been at (Artisan’s Gallery) for over 15 years, and was still working at State Street Fruit Store and Cooper’s Corner. It was fortunate that I still had those jobs, but then things just got heavier and heavier. Thankfully, Rich Cooper was incredibly kind and said if people did not feel comfortable working, they could feel free to take unemployment.

It was really difficult finding merchandise for the store and we couldn’t attend shows or visit showrooms at first. We just didn’t know what was going to happen and there were so many issues with shipping. I had to dig deep into the Rolodex and reach out to people who could help me. The next huge challenge was getting people to come into the store. We did spend a lot of time creating our website and making a digital impact to let people know we were open and what we had to offer. From TikTok videos to Instagram and Facebook posts, we spent a lot of time just putting our products out there and interacting with people who might be interested.

What are some exciting things/products/events coming up for the business?

I am going to try to bring in some artists for Arts Night Out; I really want to showcase some of the people in my life who create amazing art. I also want to lean into the services we provide, such as style editing. I can go into your wardrobe and help you determine what you should keep and what you should get rid of, as well as help you create some new looks. For instance, someone who is retiring from their career might want to create more casual looks going forward, and I  love having the chance to help people make that change.

I can also do that in your home, by bringing fresh eyes to your space and breathing new life into a room. Maybe you have an empty bedroom that you want to turn into a home office or library. Or perhaps you are having a party and you need assistance reconfiguring your outdoor space. I can also be a personal shopper to people who might hate shopping but really need to refresh their wardrobe! There’s so much we can do, even if it’s just helping people decorate for the holidays or a family gathering.

I also have a radio show coming up with Steve Sanderson—who is an old friend of mine—on Steve in the Morning, the second Wednesday of every month at 8:15.

As a business owner, what do you do to unwind/relax/rejuvenate?

As a small business owner, you never stop. You always have the business on your mind. That said, I do love to go for walks, and try to incorporate that into my schedule at least three to four times per week. I like to go in the morning to get my day started, and I often go with my business partner, Tim. That gives us time to be creative, brainstorm, and get excited about what we’ll do next. Then my guilty pleasure is watching reality shows and Gray’s Anatomy, which I just started watching again from season one!

What is one thing about Northampton that inspires and motivates you?

I think it’s how much everyone that lives here loves this city. I believe many people really want to see it succeed. I just have so many great memories of growing up here, and my family history makes it even more meaningful to me to have my business downtown. I believe people have a lot of pride in Northampton, and there’s a great sense of community.

And finally... What’s your favorite spring food and/or beverage?

I love a good fresh salad. And I have to say, fresh local asparagus is one of my favorite veggies! I’m also addicted to seltzer—I’ve got to have my seltzer!

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