Bridget's An Irish Tradition, a specialty retailer, opened its doors at 88 W. Main St., Norton, on the weekend of April 22 after a month of preparation.
Previously in Walpole since 1987, owners Bridget Daly and Lorraine Ryan, originally from Tullamore, County Offaly, Ireland, chose to make Norton the new home for this 24 year-old New England establishment after their lease expired.
“We originally started the shop because we wanted to bring the finest handcrafts and products from Ireland, for all in the New England area to enjoy, at times when they don't happen to be traveling to Ireland,” Ryan said. “We also wanted to introduce these crafts and products to an entirely new clientele who are not aware of the range of goods for which Ireland is renowned.
“We love the town of Norton, we have many family members and friends here.”
Daly's son and Ryan’s brother, Kevin Mulligan, his wife Susan,and their three daughters, Bridget, Catherine and Patrice live in Norton and attend Norton public schools.
"Once we decided to seek a boutique space outside the typical mall setting, we sought to establish the business in a thriving area with a charming New England flavor,” Daly said. “We searched for a location that would reflect the traditional Irish values of family and community, a love of the outdoors, an appreciation for ethnic culture with a sense of history, balanced by a contemporary vibrancy and vitality. It's a lot to ask - but Norton is a perfect fit."
Their market research also showed that many of their current customers hail from Norton, Mansfield, Easton, Foxboro, Attleboro, and beyond to Providence, as well as to the north and east.
“We are from Ireland, travel there frequently and know and can stand behind the excellent quality of Irish craftsmanship and Irish products,” Ryan said. “And everyone knows that being Irish is good fun, too.”
The store features popular products and craftsmanship from Ireland. The shelves are fully stocked with Irish handknit sweaters, tweed caps, kilts, glittering Celtic jewelry, Irish dance shoes, popular Irish foods and CDs by the most popular and talented Irish artists. The walls are lined with photography, posters, Irish blessing and inspirational prints.
New merchandise is arriving daily, and business has been brisk since opening day, according to Daly and Ryan. Even during the set-up period, customers arrived on the doorstep, and in typical Bridget's fashion, none were turned away, even if that required bringing merchandise from storage out to a waiting car or making a delivery to a private home.
And though Daly was optimistically looking forward to a pleasant reception in Norton, the number of customers, old, and new, who arrived bearing cards, fresh flowers and gifts stunned her.
“This was a very warm reception, beyond my wildest expectations," she said.
The grand opening for Bridget’s is scheduled for June 11 and 12. There will be specials, coupons, complimentary refreshments and Irish entertainment.
“We're still in the planning stages and there will be many surprises, too! After that we will host a steady calendar of events, throughout the year,” Ryan said.
Bridget's An Irish Tradition is thrilled to be a part of the Norton business and cultural community, and wishes a hearty Cead Mile Failte, One Hundred Thousand Welcomes, to all. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For more information call 508-285-9700.