Boutique Shopping in Claremont: Hen’s Kitchen Shoppe offers a mix for everyone

From Claremont Courier (July 27, 2017)

Hen’s Kitchen Shoppe, which opened on Yale Avenue in spring, is not a traditional kitchen store. Inside, customers can find an eclectic mix of products in a relaxed, homey, boutique-style environment.

The store, opened by long-time friends Mary O’Brien and Laurie Barnett, who also co-own Speckled Hens gift shop, is the only kitchen shop in the Village.

“We love to cook and we love kitchen stuff, and it was something that the Village needed. We don’t have a kitchen shop nearby,” Ms. O’Brien said.

Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Barnett chose to name their shop Hen’s Kitchen to tie it to their original store.

“We were trying to tie Speckled Hens to the kitchen shop so people would know we were all the same thing, so we just played around with names with hens in it,” Ms. O’Brien said.

The store has a different character than most traditional kitchen shops.

“It’s a little more gift-y and boutique-y and it’s us. It’s our taste and the things we love,” Ms. O’Brien said.

The store carries a variety of kitchen items at a range of prices, including cast iron Staub cookware, bone china dishes from England, goods from Etsy stores, some of them homemade, cookbooks, kitchen decoration, basic utensils, tea, spice mixes and a variety of other products. The back section of the store is dedicated to vintage consignment goods.

Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Barnett focused on practicality when stocking the store.

“Everything’s user friendly. Everything is things we all could use, it’s not something you look at and say, ‘What do you use that for?’” Ms. Barnett said.

Most of the items in the store can be used in day-to-day cooking.

“A chef isn’t going to go in there and find everything he needs,” Ms. O’Brien said. “One time a year you make some crazy dish and you need that thing, we don’t really carry that.”

The community’s response to the shop has been positive, and the store has been very busy since it opened.

“We’ve had a really great response to it. People just were so excited that there’s finally something [kitchen-related] here. We’ve never had to reorder so quickly,” Ms. Barnett said.

Customers at the store attest to the excitement that Ms. Barnett described.

“I loved it. It made me want to redo my whole kitchen,” Claremont resident Sharon Hiatt said. “I love that we have shops like this in the Village.”

Ms. O’Brien believes that the store’s look and feel has attracted customers.

“They feel the shop is so light and bright and fresh and everybody’s really welcomed us,” Ms. O’Brien said.

Hen’s Kitchen Shoppe has also welcomed Village residents to the store by hosting weekly sampling events on Saturdays for tea, spice mix and cheese samplings that are open to the Claremont community.

Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Barnett have had their eyes on the space on Yale Avenue in which they opened Hen’s Kitchen Shoppe since 2008, when they opened Speckled Hens.

“We loved that space for nine years. We wanted it for Specked Hens, but we couldn’t get it,” Ms. O’Brien said. “When it came available, we grabbed it. It’s a cute little spot.”

Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Barnett have been friends for 20 years and met through connections through their husbands.

“We got to be really friends at our husbands’ ten-year high school reunion, and it’s been non-stop since,” Ms. O’Brien said.

Hen’s Kitchen Shoppe is located at 141 Yale Ave and is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

—Marc Rod