By Rod Lee
About midway along Church St. in downtown Whitinsville, in the 100 block, sit three storefronts that were added to property Mary Hatfield’s family already owned directly behind them “sometime in the 1930s or 40s,” she recalls.
With the departure of The Welcoming Lantern, a popular Americana-themed gift shop that occupied the middle storefront—165 Church St.—and then the one to its left as well (when Patrick Moran expanded his premises), there loomed the possibility that new tenants for those two spaces wouldn’t be found.
Not to worry; in short order, Katie Sansoucy set up Crescent Studio Photography at 165 Church St. and Misty Clark opened FURiends Gourmet Pet Treats next door at No. 163. They became neighbors of Danielle Desrosiers’ The Green Plate, a thriving healthy alternative restaurant, which calls 167 Church St. home.
Three women-owned businesses, operating side by side.
“I am more than grateful” that the empty storefronts were filled so quickly, Ms. Hatfield said.
Bedrosian, has enjoyed a continuous presence on Church St. “since 1929,” she said.
When Garabed Bedrosian died, the Bedrosian home, at 161 Church St., went to his wife Mary, and then to Mary Hatfield’s mom, Grace Hatfield, and now to Mary.
“I’m in the home my grandfather owned. I own 161-167, three apartments and three stores,” Ms. Hatfield said. “I was living in South Carolina. This is all new to me. I never thought when I moved here four years ago this is something I would consider.”
She has a good example to follow in her mom, the late Grace M. (Bedrosian) Hatfield, a world traveler, cook, longtime member of the Village Congregational Church—and a model landlord.
Grace Hatfield died in 2018.
There are already indications that Mary Hatfield is picking up where Grace Hatfield left off.
“She’s fantastic,” Ms. Sansoucy and Ms. Clark said on the afternoon of April 30.
“Mary and my dad went to high school together,” Ms. Sansoucy said. “When we met, she asked ‘are you John’s kid?’ I had initially looked at the smaller side. When Mary called to say I could have this spot I was beyond thrilled. She’s great, if I have any question about the building. She gave me a digital thermostat and she has just let me explode in here.”
Ms. Sansoucy isn’t alone in a determination to make the most of her location.
On a street that has experienced its share of “misses” retailing-wise in recent years, The Green Plate, for instance, is a notable exception. This gives Ms. Sansoucy and Ms. Clark reason to believe they too can realize success.
At her address for three and a half years, Ms. Desrosiers has grown the operation step by step. Her menu keeps expanding. The latest addition is pizza (caprese, pepperoni, veggie delight and meat madness). “The only additional product I needed was the pizza crust,” she said.
Gluten-free, grab n’ go, build-a-bowl, signature bowls, catering, four-week meal plans, takeout (it’s ninety percent of The Green Plate’s business “and always has been”) and dine-in: Ms. Desrosiers keeps pushing in new directions with food that has “appeal and flavor for everyone,” she said.
The Green Plate is open Monday-Saturday.
A photography enthusiast from her teens, Ms. Sansoucy has utilized “a couple of prop items” Mr. Moran left her to retool the space for her own purposes.
“I offer a little bit of everything,” she said. “Boudoir, newborn, children, high school seniors for their yearbook photos, logos, T-shirts, videography, motion graphics, pet portraits.”
Crescent Studio Photography is a first for Ms. Sansoucy. “I always wanted a studio of my own,” she said. “I was doing this part-time as a side gig. I recently lost my full-time job as a graphic designer. Last September, October, November I was booked out on top of trying to flip this space. This was supposed to be full-time next year and next year turned into this year.
“The day before I took this space I was having dinner with my sister at The Green Plate.”
Like Ms. Sansoucy, who started Crescent Studio Photography just before the pandemic hit full force, Ms. Clark took a chance by launching FURiends Gourmet Pet Treats soon after COVID-19 arrived—in the face of the threat to sales it posed. The business’s name plays on her affection for the TV show “Friends.”
She had previously been working from home for National Grid.
“This location is perfect,” she said.
The owner with her husband Matt Clark of two dogs and two cats,best ingredients. She makes everything in-house, rolling out and cutting the cookies herself, no preservatives, no additives;” and soon at FURiends there will be ice cream.
“I’ve always baked at home,” she said. Pets literally “pull their owners across the street” to get to her store, she said.
She also sells cat treats and toys.
She admits to having made a snap decision in starting FURiends.
“I told my mom ‘I think I did a thing today,’” she said, smiling. “It took a while for that to sink in.”
Mary Hatfield is glad to have her as a tenant, Ms. Clark said. “She didn’t want another hair or nail salon.”
Ms. Hatfield’s objective is to make sure that The Green Plate, Crescent Studio Photography and FURiends Gourmet Pet Treats get all the help they need from her.
Mr. Moran often commented about what a good landlord Grace Hatfield was. Mary Hatfield is aware of the relationship they had.
“We loved Patrick,” Ms. Hatfield said. “There was no written lease, just a handshake.”
Ms. Clark offers “top-quality high-end boutique products” utilizing, as Ms. Desrosiers does, “the Her family, starting with her grandparents, Garabed and Mary