Mother & Child shop moving to Amherst

AMHERST – When Karen Goddard was pregnant with her first daughter she mulled her options: Go to work and leave her baby in day care or start her own business where she could keep her baby with her.

The second option was the risky one, but it was right for her. She rented a small storefront in Amherst Plaza and sold consignment clothing for mothers and children, calling it Mother & Child.

It was a place that mothers could feel comfortable bringing their nursing babies or rambunctious toddlers.

“I remember once, two mothers were breast feeding and kids were running around,” she said, and knew she had hit on the right solution to her dilemma.

Over the years, Mother & Child evolved with trial and error. Goddard tried having a store in downtown Nashua but learned that parents did not want to deal with city traffic and parking problems.

Ten years ago, Mother & Child moved into a 7,500-square-foot space in Greystone Plaza in Nashua, where shoppers can now find consignment clothing for men, women and children, as well as “green” and fair-trade products. Goddard changed the name to M & C Clothing and Gifts, and there are now more than two dozen employees.

Moving into this busy spot on Route 101A made a big difference, she said last week, during an interview in the store. It has done very well and is filled with neatly
displayed items from thousands of consigners, who now include men, teenagers, retired women, as well as mothers with young children.

Children of her early customers used to come in and open consignment accounts, and now mothers from the early 1990s bring their grandchildren with them.

This year, as her lease came up for renewal, Goddard made another bold move: She bought the Carriage Depot shopping plaza in Amherst, 1.3 miles west of her current space, for $1.38 million from The Hardman Company.

The rent she’s paying at Greystone, which has a total of 25,655 square feet in four buildings, about equals a mortgage payment, she said.

And Carriage Depot is right next door to Amherst Plaza, where her business started. The building in Amherst Plaza burned down a few years after she moved to Greystone Plaza and Goodwill built a new store there.

Goddard is renaming the plaza, MC Square.

“It reflects that we are like an old-fashioned town square with only local, independent businesses,” she said in a press release.

On April 1, Goddard signed the papers and the store is scheduled to move before summer, filling the building in the rear of the plaza where there are now three separate units that were recently occupied by Jake’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream, Color Me Clayful and Currier Kitchens.

“Walls will need to come down,” she said.

The tenants in the other three buildings – A&E Coffee Roastery and Cafe, Anjoli Salon and Spa, Schaefer Mortgage, State Farm Insurance, Margaret Buff, ARNP and Karen S. Johnson, LICSW – will all remain in place. A&E is renovating and expanding to fill the entire first floor of the building closest to Route 101A.

One reason for her store’s success is that people seem to enjoy shopping there. Goddard trains her staff to make personal connections with customers, and they nearly run M & C without her, she said, giving her time to face another kind of challenge: climbing New Hampshire’s mountains.

She’s reached the summit of 35 of the 48 New Hampshire 4,000-footers Last week, Goddard and friends hiked up Mount Monadnock under the full moon and on Easter Sunday, she hiked four peaks, three over 4,000.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.