By Annie Stockwell
When Lynne Wolverton moved to Boston from Columbus, Ohio in 1984, she dreamt of one day starting her own store. She had experience with retail: working in a record business, a small clothing boutique, and then as the assistant manager at Burberry in Boston.
After a few years, with her knowledge and love of retail, Lynne was ready to start her own store:
Linens on the Hill.
Before embarking on her own, Lynne says, “It had been in my head for quite a while, so the question was really when was I going to take the leap and go for it.” In 1987, Lynne openedLinens on the Hill on 71 Charles Street in Beacon Hill. She “fell in love with Boston” after visiting, and knew that Beacon Hill was the environment where she wanted to start her own business.
“I wanted to concentrate on linens because that was, and is my passion,” she said. I’d thought about opening a store a long time before I was able to do it, and then the timing became right.” She signed a short-term lease which ended a year and a half later, after which she found her new location at 52 Charles Street. While the nine foot-wide store was not ideal, Lynne continued to bring in business and form bonds with her customers. Eventually, Lynne was able to expand her space, giving her more room to display her products.
Linens on the Hill specializes in high end bed, bath, and table linens. While the largest portion of the business is bed linens, the store has various gift items such as sleepwear, baby gifts, wastebaskets, tissue sets, trays, and more.
Lynne carefully finds products to display in her store. She prefers to see products in person, before adding them to her collection. Before COVID, she would go to trade shows, and spend days walking through the aisles of goods carefully examining the details and finding the next items she might add to her store.
“I look for high quality and unique things,” she said of her trade show searches. “I always try to find things that you are not going to find someplace else.”
Lynne brings her own sense of style to her store, choosing specific items that she personally likes and knows others will, too.
“I can’t buy what I don’t like personally,” she explained. “It seems to work because my clientele continues to visit, and seem to like what I choose.”
Being on Charles Street has brought her close relationships with clients. Lynne says, “If a
customer has a dog for instance, I might see them everyday because this is on their dog walking route. Because I am next to the hardware store, and across from Gary Drugs, everybody goes to those places frequently, so I see a lot of people.” She describes the close relationships that she has made over the years with her customers. She says, “I have a relationship with a lot of families; knowing children, parents and grandparents.” She explains the difference between her customers and other stores’ customers, saying, “They are not just customers, we have relationships.”
While Linens on the Hill was closed during quarantine, the business remained popular online.
Annie Stockwell lives in Beacon Hill and is a student attending BB&N.