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The Branch Olive Oil and Spices closing Thompson Street doors

The Branch Olive Oil and Spices, located at 3 Thompson St., will be closing on Feb. 24. But residents can still shop online or at the North Shore Mall in Peabody for their favorite items. WINCHESTER NEWS STAFF PHOTO/NELL ESCOBAR COAKLEY

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Even though it was April Fools' Day in 2021 when Sharon Carter and her partners opened The Branch Olive Oil and Spices in Winchester, they were quite serious about making their Thompson Street store a success.

The 3 Thompson St. location was the group's second store, having opened a Peabody store at the North Shore Mall in 2016.  However, the specialty store, which sells a wide variety of oils and vinegar curated from around the globe, will be closing its Winchester doors on Feb. 24. 

Carter shared some of the company's experiences in Winchester, as well as the factors that are causing the business to close. Citing a small store footprint, increased online shopping for similar products, and slower than expected foot traffic, the owners made the difficult decision to shutter this location after only a few years in business.

“The space is too small for us," Carter said. "Our other store [in Peabody] is four or five times bigger than this. All bottles are individually poured, corked, sealed and labeled, a process that requires more space, and allows the customers to experience the process.”

Having raised their families in Peabody, the two couples and owners – best friends for decades – opened their first store in the North Shore Mall, and have received the support of extended friends and family members in their community as they've grown.

“The mall provides 12 months a year of foot traffic," Carter said. "In the summer, people come in to get out of the heat. In the winter, they come in to get away from the winter, the cold. There’s nothing like Christmas at a mall.”

Carter said they’ve had nothing but positive experiences as local business owners and praised the Winchester community and Chamber of Commerce.

“The Winchester Chamber of Commerce I could not say enough about," she said. "They do a wonderful job and they really, really encourage people to shop local. They have been wonderful to work with, specifically, Dana Garvey.  She has been fantastic.”

And although many local businesses have had difficulties finding and retaining staff, the owners of Branch said they did not experience staffing issues and were happy to have been able to provide first job experiences to two teenage girls, and another local woman has become a close part of their team.

When asked about advertising, Carter indicated that Branch did not advertise locally as it was very expensive, relying instead on finding creative ways to cost-effectively promote and market the brand.

The “pizza-shaped” footprint on Thompson Street, formerly the location of Winchester Shoe Hospital, was small, and proved challenging for a business like Branch that relies on a larger space to provide the full customer experience.

“I’ve met some of the best people in Winchester,” Carter said. “Even though we’re closing, I don’t regret opening in Winchester. I will miss Winchester. I’ll miss the people, the faces I get to see every day, everyone walking their dogs. It’s a very nice community. I can see why people don’t leave Winchester. They stay.”  

When asked what she would like to share with Winchester residents, Carter said, “Get out and shop local. Support your small businesses before they’re all gone.

"I understand that shopping online is very easy and we all kind of got into a rut of doing that," she continued. "It’s a reality. But if people want to have nice stores in their towns and keep them in their community then they have to support them.”

As a way of thanking the local community once they close, the owners of Branch would like to give Winchester residents 15% off on their website using the code: thankyou. The discount is available for use two times per customer.

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