Cachet, the Church Street gift shop that has defined style and excellence in Wellesley Square for two generations of discerning shoppers, will close later this spring after 46 years of service to the community. For those who relied on owners Ginny and Bob Otto to help them nail every gift-giving occasion with style and elegance, this news marks the end of an era. To Ginny and Bob, who live in the same Wellesley Hills home they bought when they moved to town in the 1970s, and where they raised their son, exchanging a lifetime of retail for retirement is almost too much to process.
When asked what retirement will look like for them Ginny said, “We don’t know. We’re only making one giant decision at a time.”
“All I can tell you is that we love what we do, and it is hard to give this up,” Bob said.
I sat down with Ginny and Bob smack dab in the middle of Cachet, surrounded by cozy Chappy Wrap blankets, sparking Simon Pearce glassware, and hand-painted MacKenzie-Childs ceramics to hear their story. It all started at Bloomingdale’s in New York City.
Both were in the executive training program at Bloomies, where they were trained as buyers. The department store sent them all over the world to learn the business. “We were a couple of young kids and we moved up the ranks,” Ginny said. “They’d send you to different buyers to do little stints. You’d start as an assistant buyer. It was an exciting process because at the time Bloomingdales was the store. It was great because it was a young store.”
After they got married, Bob was transferred to the Chestnut Hill Bloomingdales, and Ginny took an offer she couldn’t refuse as a vice president for an importing company. The jobs were great but one day Bob, a Babson College graduate who was raised in Wellesley, casually said to Ginny as they were walking by an empty Wellesley Square storefront, “You know, I’ve always wanted a store of my own.”
Here’s the thing about Ginny. She makes things happen. So don’t ever suggest something casually to Ginny unless you want that thing to materialize. In short order, Cachet opened on Central Street, adjacent to the iconic yellow building that is known today as the Hathaway House. They stayed in that location for 16 years before moving over to the store’s current spot at 16 Church Street. “We moved because we liked the retail landscape at Church at the time,” Ginny said. “There were a lot of shops that all relied on foot traffic, just like ours.”
Next to emotionally preparing to close up shop for good (“46 years,” Ginny marveled), the Ottos cite the pandemic as the hardest thing they experienced as business owners. “We were closed for three months,” Bob said, noting that even once they opened, shoppers weren’t coming out in droves.
“But our loyal customers came through,” Ginny added. “We reached out to them, they called us, and it was difficult but our customers are just really great. Now that we’re going to close, so many people have come in and called and cried. If they keep crying, I don’t know how I’m going to get through this.”
Probably by making one small decision at a time—how to best showcase the inventory; when to sell the beautiful display racks; how to hang onto decades of memories. And maybe, during rare quiet times, allowing thoughts of travel to creep in. I have a feeling Ginny and Bob are ready to once again cross oceans, raise a toast to a successful career, and enjoy some well-earned freedom.
The big retirement sale
Cachet at 16 Church Street in Wellesley will be open through mid-June 2022 as Ginny and Bob thank their customers with discounts of up to 75%. All your favorite brands are on the floor right now (Jacaranda Living, Priamo sleepwear, Hide n Seek and Coccoli for kids, and more). But get there fast before your favorite sleepwear, linens, ceramics, kids’ clothing, cute Easter stuff, and more are gone for good.
More Wellesley shopping news
Fair in the Square
DATE: April 10, 2022
LOCATION: Linden Square Courtyard
DETAILS: Kids will love meeting the Easter Bunny and Peppa Pig; plus, there will be glitter tattoo artists and an ice cream truck serving free ice cream to the first 50 kids, while supplies last. The ice cream truck will also be serving frozen hoagies—delicious ice cream sandwiches for purchase until 2pm.