Tummy to Mummy, the Mahone Bay store that aims to sell quality children's clothing, toys, books and items for families, is closing down.
"It is with mixed emotions that we make this announcement today. After 8 awesome years of being your local baby and kids shop, we have made the difficult decision to close this chapter," owners Simone Chia-Kangata and Lori Keelty announced on the store's Facebook page January 3.
A sandwich board advertising a closing sale stood on the sidewalk in front of the store on Main Street January 4. The doors are expected to shut for good on February 29.
Ironically, the store has been doing particularly well over the past couple of years and 2019 was its best ever, according to Keelty.
"So we're not closing it because of the retail environment. We're closing it because Simone and I just don't have the time any more to put into it," Keelty told LighthouseNOW. She explained that both of them have full-time jobs in addition to the business.
"As a personal business, I believe the owner needs to be involved in day-to-day. And customers want that interaction, right? They want to come in and see the owner," said Keelty. She added that by being on hand the owners can also have a better feel for what the market needs and wants. But lately they've only be able to be in a few hours a week.
In any case, the business has been evolving. Chia-Kangata started it when her children were young. As they got older, the store began carrying items relevant to the older child, and now caters to those from newborns to age 12. And according to Keelty, who became a co-owner two years ago, it's one of the few children's shops that carry a lot of books about diversity, including strong, black female role models.
Nor, as the name might suggest, does it cater just to moms, "because we have dads raising kids now," said Keelty. While there are some products for mothers, such as all-natural body soaps, creams and bath products, others such as household cleaning agents and laundry detergents are aimed at families as a whole.
The owners also have strived to have as many of the items they sell made locally or within Canada as possible. "For me, that's one of the critical things. We've had just a loyal following of customers that believe in shopping local and want to support us, what our brand represented, which was good quality products," said Keelty.
While the store is closing, the owners are hoping to sell the business, including branding and goodwill. The property itself, which is owned by Chia-Kangata, is not for sale.
Keelty declined to say how much they are asking for the business, however, she said they already have had some interest from prospective buyers.