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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: Boutiques transform a city block

September 29. 2013 9:40PM

It looks like the Elm Street block between Dow and Fir streets is becoming a downtown shopping destination. Kaitlen Hannah, a Unique Baby Boutique, is opening tomorrow at 1350 Elm St., just two doors down from K-Fab's Boutique, a clothing store for women I wrote about after it opened last spring.

Kaitlen Hannah proprietor Tanya Call said she has thought about opening her own business for a long time. As a client of K-Fab's, she had struck up a friendship with owner Krysten Apostoles, and found out about the open space. Just nine weeks later, she is planning for her grand opening ribbon cutting Tuesday at 3 p.m. with Mayor Ted Gatsas.

Call said she attended Memorial High School in the mid-90s and later got her degree in early childhood education from Hesser College. She said her years working in childcare centers have resulted in a lot of connections with local families, a great customer base for Kaitlen Hannah, named for Call's two daughters. The shop is beautifully decorated, with an inventory of baby clothes and accessories in sizes newborn to 4T, many of which are made with organic and other eco-friendly materials.

There is definitely a need for a baby-oriented shop downtown, and Call promises to offer her customers the attention they won't find in a big-box store. She credits the management at Not So Plain Jane's, where she once worked, for teaching her the importance of great customer service.

"I take pride in what I do. I take pride in my job and the relationships I develop," Call said.

Her pride is evident from the investment she has made in her new storefront. Kaitlen Hannah's lilac exterior and new sign paired with K-Fab's signature pink circle and trendy window displays are sure to draw more women, and hopefully more businesses, to a section of downtown not known for shopping.

Kaitlen Hannah will be open seven days a week starting Wednesday. You can learn more on its Facebook page.

More for mommies

I recently enrolled my two youngest boys in an art class at Bedford's Nini Bambini and discovered an amazing resource for new and expectant parents. I shouldn't be surprised because it was started by Nina Cullen.

Cullen has helped so many new moms and dads that she probably doesn't know me from Adam, but I will always remember her. She was my childbirth educator at Catholic Medical Center before I had my first son more than six years ago. About a week after I got home from the hospital, Cullen gave me a call. She told me I needed to come to a weekly group she hosted for new moms at a pediatric practice on the West Side.

Cullen is a parent herself and has more than 20 years of experience working with new and expectant parents. She knew I was sitting at home, feeling exhausted, depressed, and totally unprepared for the new challenges and responsibilities I was facing. She was also prepared for my excuses.

I told her leaving my home would be impossible with this tiny, screaming creature that wanted to eat and be held constantly. I told her I couldn't remember the last time I had showered or changed out of my pajamas. Thank goodness she refused to take no for an answer because she and those other new moms got me through those first ridiculously difficult weeks of being a new parent. As each week passed I felt less lonely in the challenges I was facing. I felt more comfortable in my new role as mom and sole food provider. She taught me to go with my instincts because the best I could do was the best for my child.

That one group of new moms sitting with Cullen on a circle of quilts in a doctor's office waiting room has turned into an entire organization of practitioners helping expectant and new moms and dads navigate the strange world of parenthood.

Nini Bambini offers classes for expectant moms, dads, siblings and even grandparents. After the baby arrives there are support groups and classes for different types of parents and baby age groups. There is also a beautiful shop with unique products to help make parenting easier.

Another great resource is the Nini Bambini Facebook group where new and seasoned parents post questions about everything from diaper rash and feeding schedules to car seats and colic. It's like a virtual moms group that you really don't have to get out of your pajamas to attend.

Check out for schedules and fees.

Give Away Day

I think I've learned of something even better than a yard sale. It's Give Away Day at Manchester Church of Christ at 66 Mammoth Road. Suzie Peacock, the church's secretary, said the church has spent the last month collecting unwanted, usable items from its members, including appliances, furniture, clothing, toys and more. They will give it all away from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. this Saturday.

Peacock said anyone in the community who has a need is invited to come and share in their blessings. The church will also accept donations of good, usable items from the community this week. If you have something to donate, including larger pieces that need to be picked up, call 623-5559.

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

"Rent" is an amazing Broadway show and it is your last chance to see it at the Palace Theatre this weekend. Performances are scheduled for Thursday and Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

The musical is a re-imagining of Puccini's opera "La Bohème" about friends in New York City's East Village tackling addiction, poverty, AIDS, and most of all, love.

The music is phenomenal and you should see it.

Visit www.NH365.ORG for more information about this and other events happening around the Queen City this week.

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