For the past four decades, Wild Goose Chase has sold unique gifts, handcrafted jewelry, home decor, and designer clothing, featuring and supporting local artists. This year it will close. “We did announce to our customers on Friday that we have to close the store at 1355 Beacon Street,” said owner Beth Venti in an email. “Our future is yet to be determined, but hopeful.” Venti said they expect to close by the end of June.
In 2014, Brookline residents Beth and Kevin Venti took over from the Irene Change and her husband Robert Kelly who owned the shop since they bought it from the original owners in the 80s. In 2016, Ventis set up an online store in an effort to capitalize on changing shopping trends. And for the next four years, they remained flexible and open to trying new things. They worked with the Chamber of Commerce and continued to work with local artists. But then the pandemic hit. “We were derailed by COVID-19, just like every other micro-business,” Kevin Venti said in an email. Ultimately, it wasn’t a single factor that leads to the couple’s decision to close the storefront, they said. But as they looked at 2021, COVID-19, and retailing trends they realized long-term financial commitments to employees and artisan vendors who also operate micro-businesses would be seriously impacted if they stayed open.
Not the only one
The brick-and-mortar shop is one of the hundreds of small businesses in the state to shutter amid the pandemic. The announcement comes just as Gov. Charlie Baker announced Monday that he plans to end the State of Emergency on June 15 in light of a rising number of people being vaccinated. Even as economists are hopeful, it will be a long road to recovery for many. The number of open small businesses in Massachusetts was down in May by nearly 39 percent compared with January, according to data from Harvard University’s Opportunity Insights Recovery Tracker.
In Brookline’s Coolidge Corner there are a number of empty storefronts. Not all are victims of the pandemic. For years, online shopping has modified the way people shop. And between the rising cost of rent and the declining revenue thanks to online shopping, it’s made it difficult for small mom-and-pop businesses. Advocates say the only way for small businesses to survive is to shop locally and resist the temptation to shop online. As of March 10, employment rates in retail and transportation decreased by 3.3 percent compared to January 2020, the tracker reported.
Hope for the future?
The owners of Wild Goose Chase left open the possibility of a return in some way. “We’re very confident that our business could thrive in Coolidge Corner in a different space and a different time, which we will continue to pursue,” they said. “We’d like to express our deep gratitude for the generous support of all clients over the years and acknowledge that it was our pleasure to serve them,” the couple said in an email, adding that they hope people will utilize any gift cards or store credit they still have. They also implored Brookline residents to support other areas small retail stores. “The challenges they’re facing in today’s climate can feel profoundly insurmountable,” they said. “Customers seem to enjoy ‘shopping local.’ It is discouraging to think that without change, independent stores could potentially become obsolete. “