Those walking around the historic Woodstock Square recently might have noticed the reopening of a familiar store, along with the opening of a new children’s boutique, on Cass Street.
The Thoughtfulness Shop, which closed last year after its previous owners, Ceal and Ken Schroeder, retired, now is open again under new ownership with My Little Bow Peeps, at neighboring 102 Cass St., now connected to it.
The owner of the two shops, Janice Ricci Wilcox, said her My Little Bow Peeps operation, which she originally ran out of her McHenry home, was very successful online, spurring her to take the business to a physical location.
She and her husband, state Sen. Craig Wilcox, who also owns the stores, started looking for a site where they could move My Little Bow Peeps, she said.
“We needed some substantial space to be able to accommodate our online store,” Ricci Wilcox said.
After the Thoughtfulness Shop advertised it was going out of business, Craig Wilcox went there to buy some store fixtures for My Little Bow Peeps. The two kept returning to The Thoughtfulness Shop and talking to the owners.
When Ricci Wilcox mentioned they couldn’t find a physical site big enough for My Little Bow Peeps, Ken Schroeder asked if she would want to move it there.
“One thing led to the next. I had gotten home and I sat in Craig’s office, and I was like, ‘How would you feel about keeping history alive on the Square and reopening The Thoughtfulness Shop?’” Ricci Wilcox said. “He was intrigued.”
Ricci Wilcox spent three months rehabilitating The Thoughtfulness Shop with its landlord, while nonessential businesses were closed during the pandemic. This included new carpeting, paint, ceiling tiles, fixtures, security systems, cameras and alarms.
The pandemic did cause one problem for them during this time: A lot of suppliers were not shipping. It did give the new owners more time to fix the shop up though, Ricci Wilcox said.
“My husband and I have 15-year-old twin daughters, who are at the shop all the time, she said. “I have a 21-year-old son. Even during the lockdown, we were all able to do this as a family because we had the time, we were all home. We all came together. We all worked together.”
The Thoughtfulness Shop and My Little Bow Peeps held a soft opening last month and are working with the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce for a larger grand opening toward the end of September.
Shoppers have been giving the new owners a “phenomenal” reception, Ricci Wilcox said.
“Everybody that walks in there, their jaws just drop,” she said. “It just turned out absolutely beautiful.”
One of the benefits of working with The Thoughtfulness Shop’s previous owners is that they were able to transition some of their lines to the new owners, Ricci Wilcox said.
Ricci Wilcox added that they are planning on bringing in some “new, unique” lines, as well, along with handmade items from local artisans.
Because of COVID-19, The Thoughtfulness Shop and My Little Bow Peeps have taken precautions to keep others safe.
“It’s common sense,” Ricci Wilcox said. “We sanitize everything. We wipe everything down.”
Everyone in the store wears face masks, and hand sanitizers are stationed at every register. The Vera Bradley masks available for sale have been a hit, with 300 sold in one 10-day period.
“Every single day, people are coming in grabbing three, four, five of these masks,” Ricci Wilcox said.
Seeing other businesses that have had to close because of COVID-19 has been disheartening and sad to see, Ricci Wilcox said.
She hopes that having The Thoughtfulness Shop and My Little Bow Peeps on the historic Woodstock Square will help other businesses in the area.
“They may not just come to our store; they’re going to start walking around,” she said. “I hope it [enlivens] the whole business district here on the Square.”