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In 1979, Jennifer Reattoir’s grandparents finished construction of a building in downtown Sault Ste. Marie. Immediately after, her parents opened The Mole Hole, a store stocked with collectibles, unique gifts, apparel and décor. Thirty-one years later, Jennifer and her husband bought the business from her mother. She continues to run the store to this day.
Jennifer shares what it’s like to transition ownership through the family and how different holiday shopping may look at The Mole Hole in 2020 compared to previous years.
My mom and I worked together for years…
while she owned the business. I started working here in high school and then I left and did my own thing for a while, also in retail. When my daughter was born I came back and started working part-time while she was little. Once both my kids were in school I started working full-time for my mom and then in 2010 I bought the business from her and she stayed on working for two years; we sort of flip-flopped roles. Around that time my daughter started to work for me while she was in high school. We had one year where all three of us were here together.
I didn’t initially plan to take over.
I grew up here, but went away for college. My husband and I made our way back and decided to stay once we had a family and I had the flexibility to adapt my schedule if my kids had something at school. We started talking about it and then making plans. … We had other opportunities to move elsewhere through my husband’s work. So once we decided to stay, then the plan started running.
We’re changing our annual customer holiday party up this year.
We typically do a big holiday party in-store – a big holiday kick-off and usually have an evening event where we serve appetizers and drinks. This year we plan to spread it out over a week. We’ll have virtual elements, which is something we brought in due to COVID. We’ll have a virtual kick-off party and we’re planning to have specials every day highlighting a different line and do a promotion within that line.
Another thing we’ve done in the past, and I’d like to do this year, is tie holiday shopping into a charity, so sometimes we do a food drive at Christmas-time. If customers bring in something to donate, then they get a certain discount on an item of their choice. That’s one of the reasons I love having a business; just being able to do things like that for the community. The customers seem very happy to donate and it’s optional to do so, but I think they enjoy being able to contribute.
The week before Christmas can be busy.
We’ll mark the floors and guide customers to the 6 feet rule. Right now the state is still under the mask mandate and we highly encouraged that even before that mandate came out. Our customers, for the most part, have really appreciated that and thank us for making the store a safe place to shop. You always get some push-back from some people, but we’ll have to see how it is around Christmas. Another thing is that it’s very cold here so you hate to make people wait outside.
I’m hoping people stay local to shop this year.
That could help us out. In the spring when things were closed down, our local shoppers really did make an effort to shop with us and we did virtual shopping via Facebook. We did Facebook Lives and we did curbside pick-up, and our customers were fantastic. They were really supportive of us and I’m hoping that’ll carry through the holidays. I’m hoping people will remember that they still have to support the small stores.
MRA member since: 1984
Location: 201 Osborn Blvd., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Specialties: Jewelry, collectibles, hand bags, apparel
Owner: Jennifer Reattoir
MRA Services: Bankcard, workers’ compensation
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Story by RACHEL SCHRAUBEN
Photos by STEVE JESSMORE