Step Into a World of Warmth and Handpicked Treasures at Sprout Children’s Shop.

by | Apr 2024

STEP INSIDE Sprout Children’s Shop, a local children’s boutique, and warmth washes over you — not just from the inviting glow of thoughtfully chosen lights but from the infectious energy itself. Laughter radiates from a corner where children, faces bright with wonder, huddle around a captivating storybook. Racks carry handpicked children’s outfits displayed with love. Shelves are filled with treasures to suit all your kiddos’ needs — sippy cups for tiny hands, heirloom blankets reflecting the beauty of generations past, and toys carefully selected to spark imagination’s flame.

The space is alive with the camaraderie of customers engaged in conversation and the welcoming smiles of its dedicated staff. The noticeable sense of connection sets the shop apart, creating an environment where you instantly feel at home. Step into the shop and immerse yourself in an atmosphere beyond mere sights and sounds. 

Sharon Gilliam and her daughter, Emily Skinner, opened Sprout Children’s Shop in 2016. Gilliam’s new business adventure began as a way to ease into retirement after a long career as a nurse practitioner. Co-owned by the pair, the shop has quickly become a nurturing space for families, creating a haven for connection and friendship. 

“We’ve made so many valuable relationships with our customers,” said Skinner. 

Stepping into the store feels like a reunion with old friends rather than a typical shopping experience. Gilliam’s knack for remembering customers from their childhood and Skinner’s warm embrace for newcomers form the heartbeat of the shop’s philosophy — a deeply personal connection to every customer that lasts even after they’ve left the boutique. 

“We try to make it a personal experience,” Gilliam expressed. 

“So many of the folks that come in either grew up with me, or I watched them grow up with [Emily].”

Beyond the typical toy store fare, the boutique caters to various community needs. Recognizing the need, Gilliam and Skinner curated a selection of carefully chosen books that ignite a love for reading, unique apparel and accessories, and jewelry that lets little personalities shine. It’s a place where imaginations bloom and where families create lasting memories.

Their personal touch is not just evident in their interactions with customers or their carefully curated clothing and accessory selections. It’s made clear by the store’s participation in many engaging community events, such as the Manchester Downtown Christmas Stroll and hosting back-to-school bashes, annual birthday parties, fashion shows, and even a frog adoption event.

As Skinner and Gilliam distributed frog adoption certificates to the children, each child became a proud guardian responsible for the well-being of their new amphibian friend. Sprout Children’s Shop instantly became a hub of joy, laughter, and wide-eyed wonder. Children cradled their biospheres, eager to introduce their froggy companions to their schools, families, and friends. 

As Gilliam and Skinner facilitate community engagement, the pair encourage new and expectant mothers to set up baby registries in-store, ensuring they receive their desired items while supporting local shopping for shower guests. They also offer birthday registries, where children can create wish lists, crafting a delightful win-win situation for everyone. 

Gilliam and Skinner are passionate about giving back, from sponsoring prizes for the library’s summer reading program to supporting a backpack program. The duo believes in nurturing children’s imaginations and well-being and providing educational opportunities. 

No journey is without hurdles. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Sprout Children’s Shop to adapt, launching a store website and embracing the digital realm for social media connection while staying true to its core values. All while running a business and adapting to the pandemic’s changes, Skinner gave birth to two bundles of joy. 

Along with the power of a supportive community to lean on, the shop’s passionate and dedicated staff ensured the company survived and thrived despite the pandemic’s challenges. 

As Gilliam reflects on her journey, she finds immense satisfaction in forming connections and the memories she created within the shop’s walls. Gilliam hopes her community will feel the same way upon walking through the store’s doors. 

She said, “I like the thought that, hopefully, we’ve created some happy moments for some children — happy memories of childhood that they can reminisce on when they come back to their hometown.” 

While Gilliam cherishes the connections she has already created, Skinner’s infectious enthusiasm hints at countless happy moments yet to be made. 

Skinner said, “I plan to work here with her forever.” 

Gilliam’s takeaway from business ownership is to simply “roll with the punches” and enjoy its ebbs and flows. 

With the duo’s passion for people and commitment to community, there’s no doubt that Sprout Children’s Shop will continue to thrive for many years. And it might even be your go-to destination for weekend getaways and family adventures. 

“We have customers who live out of state, and when they are in town visiting family, a stop into Sprout is a ‘must.’ It’s very humbling. We’ve created something from the ground up, and our customers truly enjoy the atmosphere at Sprout. That’s all we could ask for,” expressed Gilliam. GN 

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