We talked to: The Blue Marble (and Little Blue)

Hi, Cathie! Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your business, and why you chose Northampton as a location?

Hi! I opened my first store in Amherst in 2007. I loved having a focus on ethically-sourced, fair trade, American-made craft—namely, jewelry and gifts. Several years later, someone reached out to me about opening a location in Thornes, and I jumped at the opportunity. It’s truly the ideal location–being on the first floor is perfect–and such a draw to shoppers due to the array of stores, as well as the convenience of the parking garage. The building also has a great energy and a strong sense of community.

Then, in 2019, I had the opportunity to open a second space across the hall, which is Little Blue, a children’s apparel, toy, and accessory store. I decided to close my Amherst store at that time. I really love working with baby clothing and essentials, and finding fun and creative clothing for kids of all ages. Our most popular item is the Twirl Dress—we carry it up to a size 10. It’s super soft, with enough fabric for kids to twirl endlessly. And from the get-go, our felted animal mobiles have been a huge hit!

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

We experienced the same challenges everyone else did, from not being able to access hardgoods to staffing issues to sickness. But having the opportunity to  pivot and start getting more clothing into the store was an exciting and unexpected thing. Before 2020, we offered some clothes, but that was not our main focus. However, in the past few years, there’s been a huge demand for clothing for our adult customers, so now half of our business is great quality garments, from everyday staples to more colorful, artsy items. If Covid taught us anything, it’s that clothing should be of quality, comfortable and make us smile

We also make an effort to be size-inclusive when it comes to our clothing, as we want to meet the needs of all of our customers, so we carry up to a size 2X in many lines.I had a woman come in the other day who said she just had basic pairs of pants and basic tops, and wanted to step out of that box a bit, but not too much. I brought a few pieces to her, then she ended up picking a top for herself that she said she never would have considered otherwise. I love that I get to help people in that way, and when you see someone leave smiling, it’s just a very gratifying feeling.

We’re really lucky here in the Valley that we have a customer base that understands the value of independently-owned businesses. We have a very loyal and caring following at both stores, and people are always asking how they can help support us or spread the word that we’re here and about what we have to offer.

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

We are starting to move the holiday items in little bits onto the floor. After next week, we’ll be getting new things daily, in preparation for holiday shoppers, and we also have some new staff starting to help with the holiday rush!

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

I actually rediscovered quilting after 20 years, and I am  deriving a lot of enjoyment from that—when I can get to my sewing machine! I also have a spa trip coming up with a couple of friends, which is very exciting, and a much-needed getaway. We’re going to get facials, relax, and enjoy some wine!

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

I make a lot of soups and stews in the fall. We belong to a CSA, so I like getting as many organic veggies as possible into a pot. For a beverage, I’d say I am a year ‘round iced latte girl. No matter what the season, I’m always reaching for those!

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