Kathy Murphy, owner of Stowe Street Emporium in Waterbury, has owned the shop for seven years now. The shop itself has been open for 26 years.
Although the store closed its doors on March 17, Stowe Street Emporium has found a unique way to get inventory out to customers. “My daughter Kate runs the store with me – my younger daughter. She came up with this idea of mystery boxes,” Murphy said.
These mystery boxes are filled with items from the store. However, the items in the boxes are not all that mysterious. Each box has a theme.
“At first, of course, we did Easter-themed boxes. We’ve done baking boxes, beauty, accessories, kitchen gadget boxes, Vermont made boxes, all these different themes. Now it’s Mother's Day, so I’m making a lot of Mother’s Day boxes and it’s been keeping me busy. We’ve been shipping, doing porch deliveries or people come to the back door and pick it up curbside,” said Murphy.
These mystery boxes have not only kept money coming in, they have allowed Murphy to help her community. “It’s filling my soul personally and making people's lives happy with being able to gift them to their loved ones,” she said.
Not being able to see her family and customers, Murphy said, has been the most vexing part of the pandemic. “Honestly the most stress on me personally is just not seeing my grandchildren and seeing all my beautiful customers. I’ve been so appreciative of the business people are giving us through email and on the phone.”
Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury Center is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Vermont, one that is a huge attraction for Waterbury and for Murphy’s store as well. Murphy is concerned with how and whether the factory tours will be reopened.
Murphy has also been appreciating the state government's actions. Regarding the state’s safety measures, she said, “I think our governor has done a great job on that and the numbers prove it. I’m really proud of our governor. It’s better to be safe than sorry. Life, you can’t get back. We’re just going to have to work a little differently when we come out of this.”
When social distancing requirements are eased, Murphy will try to accommodate her customers even if they don’t feel ready to stop.” I figured that if we reopen and somebody is not comfortable coming in, that they could still do what we are doing now and that’s calling me for a gift and I can always deliver it. I can do the curbside pickup.”