Chris and Lauren Baker bought the in Mansfield two years ago, and Chris says it’s because he wanted to have something to give back to his children.
“I figured it was a good time to make a move while we were still healthy,” he said.
Baker said that he had worked in international trade finance before and had worked with several large firms, like Bank of America, Bank of New York and Chase Manhattan Bank before he made the switch to a small business.
He said that he left the business during the financial crisis of 2008.
“I had been through many storms in the financial services business, but none greater than the financial meltdown of 2008,” Baker said. “World-class companies were disappearing.”
Baker said that he and his wife wanted to leave something for their children, and didn’t know what the future held in his business.
“Truth be told, you don’t find too many 70-year-old bankers,” he said. “Owning a business gives an opportunity to hand it down to the next generation.”
Baker said that he and his wife work full-time at the store and their children help out when they can.
“The beauty of this store is what we kept the same,” he said. “The changes have been more subtle than dramatic.”
He said that they added vendors that they use from previous owners. They currently buy from over 300 vendors. The store has approximately 17,000 square feet of space and 12 rooms of items.
“300 vendors from 40 states and 15 different countries,” Baker said. “I usually have to love it to buy it. I like to try new things though and I’m always pleasantly surprised that there are so many people that appreciate the things they select.”
Baker added that Donald Zecher, a member of the family who previously owned the store for more than half a century before the Bakers bought, also still comes in and helps out. The store has been around since the 1830s.