Bunker Hill Relics had become a relic to most everyone passing by on that key business corridor of Main Street, but the long-vacant storefront has now found the perfect complement to the businesses on the block.
Charlestown’s Donna Garlough opened Monroe Home & Style in the space last Friday, and has been doing great business just in time for the holidays this week.
“I’ve been amazed at how many people are surprised and pleasantly surprised by the store,” she said. “The first thing they say is ‘Thank You’ – thank you for filling out the block, for fixing up Main Street and happy we’re bringing something different to the Town. People are depressed right now. Stores are closing everywhere and people are excited to see something new and fresh open up.”
That’s especially true for the Relics space that has been empty for many years when the owner of that antiques store passed on and the heirs took time to find just the right business to complement what is already there.
A home décor store is the perfect fit, Garlough said, and brings something to the area that isn’t there now. It was a risk to open in the middle of a pandemic, but she said she saw a need for it and it’s something she’s been working on for several years.
“My reasons were multi-faceted,” she said. “I started this business plan a long time before COVID-19. I wasn’t about to let it sway me. I’m here for the long haul. I’m living in Charlestown and not going anywhere. I’ve also noticed there is an enthusiasm for this kind of business right now because people are stuck at home. They want things for the home and they’re making small changes and waiting to do larger projects when things open up more.”
So far that’s panned out in a big way. Often, she’ll find people waiting outside the store before it opens, and she sold out of a lot of things in the first week and has re-stocked for holiday shopping. She said glassware is a hot item, as is bar-ware shakers and cocktail glasses. There is also interest in kitchen items in her one-of-a-kind, in-store kitchenette showroom and also for candles, throws and DIY design books.
Garlough said she has had a varied career in retail and home décor, starting as a writer at Boston Magazine covering lifestyle and home décor for the publication. From there, she spent seven years at Wayfair in e-commerce. However, e-commerce wasn’t her calling, she said.
“I did get to know the home décor retail space, but e-commerce was not where I wanted to be,” she said. “I have always enjoyed neighborhood retail and I love my neighborhood.”
Garlough is married to David Garlough, and has two children at the Warren Prescott, Sarah, 9, and Jonah, 7. She is also involved in the Charlestown Mothers Association (CMA) and said she has really gotten to know so many neighbors and friends since opening the store. The store is closed on Mondays, but has the following hours through the week: Tuesday 10-6; Wednesday 10-6; Thursday 11-7; Friday 11-7; Saturday 10-5; and Sunday 11-4.