Toy story: A Child’s Garden to close, unless new owner steps forward

  • Kate Glynn, who is the owner of A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, stands beside a display in the store, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. She is closing the store and is looking for a buyer. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A play area in A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kate Glynn, who is the owner of A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, talks to Frederick, one of two store dogs, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. She is closing the store and is looking for a buyer. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kate Glynn, who is the owner of A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, talks to Frederick, one of two store dogs, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. She is closing the store and is looking for a buyer. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Toys, books, artwork and other items line shelves and walls in A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, Jan. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Kate Glynn, who is the owner of A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, talks about her store, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. She is closing the store and is looking for a buyer. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • A cast-iron crib serves as a display in A Child’s Garden at 204 Main St. in Northampton, Monday, Jan. 6, 2019. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/6/2020 5:10:10 PM
Modified: 1/6/2020 5:09:40 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Kate Glynn, owner of A Child’s Garden, said her career path hasn’t gone as she originally planned. “I kind of did my career backward,” she said. 

Glynn, 38, planned to have a children’s bookstore when she retired. “It was on my bucket list.”

But when she was a senior at Smith College, she worked at A Child’s Garden under its previous owner, Elizabeth Volkmann, and in 2006, the opportunity to buy the store presented itself. So, she cast her original plan aside. 

After nearly 14 years under her ownership, she announced that the store, located at 204 Main St., will be shuttering.

“It’s time for me to move on,” Glynn said Monday. “If that means closing the store, that means closing the store.” She hopes that moving on will give her space to decide what’s next for her career. 

The store’s final day is not yet determined, but Glynn said it will likely be in early February. She’s also open to selling the store to a new owner. “I’m totally open to someone raising their hand saying, ‘This is right for me right now. I have the heart and the hustle to make it go,’” she said. “I think someone could revision the store.” Anyone interested should contact her by Jan. 24, she said.

A Child’s Garden sells children’s toys and books and baby carriers, among other items. Its bookshelves are packed with titles by popular authors including Dr. Seuss and Richard Scarry and classic children’s books like “Goodnight Moon” and “Where the Wild Things Are.” (The latter was written by her author-uncle, Maurice Sendak.)

“It’s a lot of classic toys that you or your parents remember from childhood,” Glynn said of the selection. “The simple, timeless things that kids can play with for decades — blocks, cars, simple dolls … Things you’re not going to find at Target.” 

The store also did drop-in hours helping people learn how to use baby carriers and slings.

Throughout her nearly decade and a half running the store, Glynn said, “The best part, for me, was being part of hundreds, if not thousands, of families and teaching them about baby-wearing and helping them figure out how they want to be in the world with their babies.” 

In addition to her personal reasons for the closure, Glynn said that downtown is changing. “It’s different. And that’s OK. Change is important. But it’s not quite viable for me right now.”

“It’s not the robust retail environment that it once was downtown,” she said. “I’ve noticed a slowdown in foot traffic.”

“I’m not going to speculate why,” she added. “I think it’s a whole bunch of reasons. I’ve certainly noticed a significant shift.” 

The internet is one driver. “More and more people shop online,” Glynn said. A Child’s Garden does not do online business. “We are a bricks-and-mortar store only,” its website reads. “We believe passionately in interacting with you in real life.​​​​​”

While a number of downtown stores such as Faces, ConVino Wine Bar, Glazed Doughnut Shop and La Fiorentina have closed their doors over the last year, new businesses also have opened, such as the Majestic Saloon, UYA Poke Bowl & Sushi Burrito, HighBrow Wood Fired Kitchen + Bar and Familiar’s Coffee & Tea. 

Businesses come and go in a cyclical nature, Glynn said: “I’ve seen cycles of that even in my decade and a half of being downtown. Business have to close for new ones to open up.”

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.




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