The Kimball Shop and Boutique
Meet Our November Featured Business: The Kimball Shop and Boutique
The Kimball Shop, at 135 Main Street in Northeast Harbor, opened for business in 1929. Started by Margaret Kimball, current owner Nancy Ho’s aunt, it has remained a family business to this day. “We had the option to close it or sell it, but my brother and I chose to run it,” says Ho. Nancy continues to be a daily presence in the shop, managing a small team that handles every aspect of the business, from managing stock to gift wrapping, shipping and organizing events.
One thing everyone agrees on when walking into the Kimball Shop: the space is a lot bigger than they expect. The rooms are spacious and well organized, but house tens of thousands of gifts and housewares. The Kimball Shop Boutique, one storefront over from the Kimball Shop, is more of the same in terms of eye-pleasing and colorful displays, but with clothing, shoes, and accessories. You feel as if you could spend hours in this store, come back a week later and still find new treasures.
The Kimball Shop and Boutique are all of everyone’s favorite stores rolled into one, which is why their wedding registries and shopping events are so popular. Now in its 8th year, their annual ladies’ luncheon is an occasion to set up tables in the shop, let women browse and make their Christmas lists: “We don’t have so many people you need to RSVP. Sometimes people have to wait a bit but we serve them coffee and tea and a table usually frees up in a couple minutes.”
A couple weeks after the women’s luncheon, a ‘men’s night’ allows men to come, have a happy hour drink, and do their Christmas shopping for the women in their life who have left a list. “They can have a drink and visit with their friends while we wrap their gifts.” Nancy says of the one-stop shopping experience.
To accommodate those who can’t make the luncheon, the Kimball Shop is adding two Friday evening “Sip and Shop” events this year, open to anyone wishing to create a list.
In the case of all shopping events through Christmas, if someone buys something from a person’s premade list, they receive a discount. For customers away from the island during the holidays, Nancy’s team offers online shopping through their website, www.kimballshop.com.
No matter what time of year, the Kimball Shop and Boutique carry American-made products like Collared Greens ties, All-Clad cookware, and Jill McGowan clothing. They also have many Maine-made products like Alison Evans’ Coastal Ceramics, Sail Bags, and Swans Island Blankets. You can also find luxury brands of all types from Herend hand-painted china to Longchamps bags and Wolf brand kitchen appliances.
Nancy has a hard time defining exactly her process for selecting which items to stock. “How do you explain your taste?” says Nancy, who clearly loves color, texture, and design. Adding customer feedback and what she discovers at shows, the Kimball Shop and Boutique are a mixture of classics and new finds. “A china company may come out with a new plate. By pairing it with what you already have, it can completely reinvent the look.”
Nancy and her team are happy to show anyone around, but there is plenty of signage throughout the store detailing company and artist information, so visitors can browse solo or with friends. When asked what people should know about the Kimball Shop and Boutique, Nancy highlights the diversity of products available: “I want people to know we have really unique items but also affordable items.” It’s true: with travel alarm clocks, candles, lotions, games, and kitchen accessories, the store is a stocking stuffer’s dream.
What’s most striking about the Kimball Shop and Boutique isn’t just the breadth of items for sale, or even the friendliness and knowledge of the staff, but the lengths to which they will go to satisfy their customers. The Kimball Shop and Boutique are a Northeast Harbor institution.