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Nesting: Heaven on the Second Floor in Concord, Massachusetts

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 4/14/2018.

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Wendi Snider, owner of Nesting gift shop in Concord, Massachusetts
Wendi Snider, owner of Nesting in Concord.

The sign above the cashier's desk says it all about Nesting gift shop in Concord, Mass.: "To create and nurture a warm and peaceful haven."

Like a retail form of taking a relaxing vacation, Nesting has landed on many a local and visitor's Concord must-see "A" list for the past 14 years through a heartwarming, nature-inspired eclectic presentation of gifts and a welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. Unlike many expensive gift shops that seem to impress its owner more than the customer, Nesting offers an unpretentious setting and products for all budgets. Located in one of the last small town eastern Massachusetts downtown districts with a truly impressive mix of independently-owned and operated stores and restaurants, Nesting is certainly one of the best examples of the strong small business culture in this historic New England town.

Gift shop lovers unite -- this is your place that meets and often exceeds every criteria of this retail genre. Charming small rooms with a consistent avian theme (like bird's nests and branches) reveal many one-of-a-kind antique, vintage, contemporary and found objects including home decor items, jewelry, blank notecards with beautiful drawings, handmade soaps, French hand cream, books, games, prints, sheet music, postcards, dishes, taxidermy and during Christmas, ornaments and decor items. Much of the merchandise is made by small businesses and craftspeople in the United States.

"It's all heartfelt," said Nesting owner Wendi Snider. "Not the things you'd find at the malls. And it's a shop for everyone to enjoy. We don't have a lot of high end merchandise."

Nesting gift shop in Concord, massachusetts
Charm, interesting merchandise and a relaxing atmosphere come together at Nesting in Concord.

Nesting's second floor location might not be easy to find although the street level sign, an open staircase, bubbles leading to the stairs and a connection to the popular Main Streets Market & Cafe (delicious homemade foods and desserts, great drinks in a Cheers-like setting) help bring deserved attention to the gift shop. People often seem magnetized to the storefront with its eye-catching Nesting sign above the store entrance in the distance.

Nesting gift shop in Concord, Mass.
The outdoor staircase leading to Nesting in Concord. Photo credit: Nesting.

Ultimately, though, this is a "Build it and they will come," word-of-mouth type of shop that strongly stands on its own as a woman-owned business with the type of merchandise that appeals to those in search of a gift shop oasis to connect instead of a trendy place to be seen.
Visitors as far away as France, Costa Rica and New Zealand find the shop quite well with many vacationers (and locals, of course) returning on their next Concord or New England vacation visits. The location is perfect, too, within close walking or driving distance to wonderfully famous Concord attractions like Minuteman National Historic Park including the Old North Bridge, the Concord Museum, The Old Manse, Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Monument Square, Walden Pond State Reservation, the Concord River, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and Ralph Waldo Emerson House.

Snider comes across as a working class person and friendly neighbor as opposed to a stereotypical refined gift shop owner. As an example, a few locals and a first time shopper arrive on a cold March day right around the 10 a.m. opening time, either buying a few things or just stopping in to say hello with conversations flowing like that in a diner.

An upstate New York native raised in a small town, Snider now lives in a quiet rural community 45 minutes from Nesting, has no previous gift shop experience and chose not to attend college in lieu of receiving an education in life 101.

"I have worked in photography, as a waitress, in a frameshop, as a bartender, in a stained glass studio and in a garden center," said Snider. "I am a working person and a jack of all trades. I fill the shop with things I love and customers feel the experience. I want people to leave here with a happy heart. It is that simple."

Notecards at Nesting gift shop in downtown Concord, Mass.
An impressive notecard section at Nesting in Concord.

Snider has a genuine love for people, and that strong attribute transcends to those of all ages. Instead of viewing kids as little people potentially breaking precious retail goods and being too loud, Snider welcomes them as regulars in a store filled with appealing merchandise for all to enjoy and constant positive messages throughout the store.

Positive message at Nesting gift shop in downtown Concord, Mass.
One of the many positive messages at Nesting in Concord.

She hires students, seasonally, from different schools and commissioned one student at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn., to create the Nesting web site. Four local middle school girls regularly visit the shop after school, put down their knapsacks, and sit reading poetry over some Goldfish crackers available in the store.

"If I could hire every kid, I would," said Snider. "They are part of what makes my job so special."

Snider takes great pride in, and shows tremendous gratitude toward her all-women staff. Terry ,and her daughter Abbey, bring their own skills and passions to the shop. Terry, a Nesting buyer and landscape designer who also runs a flower farm, makes beautiful soaps and dried flower arrangements while Abbey is a buyer and pastry chef who brings cookies to the store that are most popular during Christmas and Valentine's Day. Emma-Sofia, Natalie and Amy contribute greatly to making the shop a wonderful experience for the visitor. Another likable staff member: Willow, Snider's dog, who is exceptionally well-behaved and clearly comfortable with retail life.

Hand-crafted soaps from Nesting gift shop in Concord, Massachusetts

Snider first started her shop in Sterling, Mass., many years ago but then moved the business to Concord. The decision clearly worked, given Concord's presence as a thriving Boston suburb with a lively but quaint central district. Despite being told by a few that the shop might not work out, Snider forged ahead knowing that following a passion and career dream could create a good quality of life -- and make people happy in the process.

"We were told we were crazy by opening in a bad economy," said Snider. "Fourteen years later, we are still here. I really love what I do, my staff and the people who visit and shop here."

Nesting is located at 44 Main St., Concord MA. Tel. 978-369-4133. Web site: Facebook fan page:

Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons. Includes Concord's Monument Square, Lexington Battle Green and the Bedford town common! Written by VisitingNewEngland editor, Eric Hurwitz.

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