Presque Isle family bands together to open boutique
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Those who step inside The Stone Flower Boutique, one of Presque Isle’s newest businesses, will not only meet owner Stacey Walton but also many of the youngest budding entrepreneurs in the family.
“I like telling people about the crystals,” said 7-year-old Aurora Walton, as she proudly pointed to a display of fluorite, amethyst and flower agate towers and other crystal products. “One of them is called a ghost crystal.”
According to Aurora’s mother, most of the 10 Walton children have become the store’s unofficial salespeople, often interacting with customers and sharing fun facts about the products.
“They’re my unofficial board. If we’re starting a new product, we discuss it together and sometimes I let them pick out products on their own,” Stacey Walton said. “They have fun modeling the clothes for our Facebook page. We like to keep things family-oriented.”
Located at 101 Conant Road, The Stone Flower Boutique has been a long time coming for Stacey and Craig Walton and their children, who range in age from 8 months to 20 years old.
Soon after Craig began his home-based business, Bricks and Stones Masonry, Stacey and the children started selling statuary, jewelry and art at local craft fairs. But after the masonry business gained more customers, Stacey became in charge of operations and found herself with less time to connect with local artists while raising her family.
In spring 2021, the couple realized that now was as good a time as ever to invest in a family-oriented business that could provide something different to the community. Together, most of the family had a hand in building the small store next to their home, from painting the walls to placing stepping stones near the front entrance.
“The kids were involved from the get-go,” Stacey Walton said. “I hope that it helps them gain a good work ethic and be creative.”
Since opening in August, The Stone Flower Boutique has sold jewelry, clothing, toys, candles and other items from U.S.-based, fair trade companies. This means the products are made from recycled and environmentally sustainable materials, and that companies donate part of their proceeds to global organizations working to combat issues such as poverty and climate change.
In the future, Stacey Walton would like to expand the store to include more space for selling local crafters’ work. In the meantime, she has enjoyed seeing the support from community members, many of whom have become repeat customers.
“It’s a nice friendly atmosphere. There are things for everyone no matter what they’re interested in,” said Sonja Ingrahan of Mars Hill, who recently shopped at the boutique with her daughter Hailey.
For 15-year-old Zander Walton, chatting with customers has become his favorite part of helping the family business.
“I can help them figure out what they really like and point them toward things they might want,” Zander Walton said. “I think doing this [business] as a family shows what we’ve been able to achieve for the community.”
Whether they enjoy the products or the family atmosphere, Stacey Walton hopes that community members see something unique in what The Stone Flower Boutique offers.
“We wanted it to be an experience people can enjoy,” Stacey said. “Most customers have been back at least once, so that tells us we’ve been doing something right.”