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New owner takes helm at Essentials in downtown Northampton

  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store recently..
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Oded Peri has been marketing his patented tape measure by approaching stores to seee if they'll sell it.<br/>Gazette File Photo
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>
  • Colette F. Katsikas, the new owner of Essentials in her store Friday afternoon.<br/><br/>

— Colette Katsikas found her calling 16 years ago when she landed a job at Essentials, a longtime downtown boutique shop.

This month, she made that calling official by buying the home furnishings, gift and fine stationery store at 88 Main St. from owners Sydne Didier and John Urshel.

“It feels really natural,” Katsikas said. “Obviously, I’ve been here a long time and a lot of the customers know me.”

The 40-year-old loves people and shopping, two key ingredients in her line of work. But Katsikas is not naïve enough to think that’s enough to build on the boutique’s success over the last 28 years.

While Essentials will keep its familiar name and much of its core business, Katsikas is already moving ahead with changes she hopes will help the shop thrive in the coming years.

Essentials opened in 1985 as a companion store to Cedar Chest in Thornes Marketplace. Then owned by Thornes co-owner Mazie Cox, the store moved to its current location in the early 1990s.

Katsikas joined the store in 1997, when it was owned by Marcine Appel. She became manager in 2000 and remained in that position when Didier and Urshel took over the business about four years later.

“The nature of boutique has changed a lot,” she said. “The future is very much about versatility and flexibility, about providing something that customers can only get in our store.”

Some of the changes include installation of a “point-of-sale” computer system that will serve as a cash register and keep track of inventory. Katsikas predicts the system will free up the store’s five employees, including herself, to spend more time with customers and to focus on other areas of the business she wants to expand.

This includes its custom printing and in-store design for invitations, weddings, baby and bridal showers. The store will also offer its own registries for weddings and baby showers, something the new computer system can handle rather than doing it by hand.

A Northampton resident, Katsikas has lived in the area since 1990. She is a graduate of Hampshire College, where she studied film and video production.

She worked with the Franklin County Community Development Council to secure funding to buy the business, though she declines to say how much she paid. The transaction includes the two of Essentials’ three websites, wundertime.com that features the European imports and shopessentials.net that sells the store’s many other items.

Katsikas intends to revamp the Essentials website so that it is more interactive and displays items better. She will also write a blog and continue the businesses use of email, Facebook and Twitter.

Essentials describes its products as a mix of practical and whimsy. In addition to its invitation and custom printing offerings, the shop also sells LEE furniture, a line of Tintin products, French textiles and letterpress paper products, boutique children’s clothing and crafting items.

Even though she’ll have more responsibilities as owner, Katsikas said the things that excited her about the business 16 years ago hold true today. She loves helping people find unique, high-quality gifts and participating in some of their most joyous moments in their lives, like weddings and babies.

“I love that on a good day I feel like I’m throwing a party,” she said. “This feels like my home and I want people to enjoy it.”

We love Essentials, and Colette is the heart and soul of it for us - so a big HOORAY! This is what the Community Development Council is all about, so kudos to them for helping her dream come true.

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