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'Coco Baby' Opens on Washington Street

South Ender Nicole Vale has transformed the baby boutique since purchasing the store in June.

After years of climbing the corporate ladder, South Ender Nicole Vale is doing what she loves – retail.

Thanks to Vale, on Washington Street now has a new look, and a new name - the baby boutique is now called “Coco Baby,” after Vale’s 18-month-old daughter. A grand opening celebration complete with jazz, cocktails and baby animals, is scheduled for Friday.

“It’s so exciting,” Vale said over coffee on a recent afternoon. “’I’m doing what I love. It’s all really come together.”

Vale purchased the business in June and immediately scrubbed the two-floor space from top to bottom. She plans to turn the basement level into a play-space for parents to bring their children during the colder months. The space will be furnished with products sold in the store, and Vale hopes to host storytelling and other children’s classes in the near future.

Despite the pressures of getting a business up and running in a short time-span (Vale admits to spending late nights at Coco Baby arranging merchandise and stressing over window boxes) the opportunity to run her own retail business came at the perfect time. Vale was laid off from her corporate job just a short time after picking up the keys to Coco Baby.

 “The timing of it was perfect,” Vale said. “I had two full-time jobs and it was crazy, I was going insane.” 

She’s wasted no time integrated herself into the local business community, joining the South End Business Alliance, partnering with Washington Gateway Main Street and speaking with the city about installing a crosswalk at Rutland and Washington streets. Students at United South End Settlements and local kindergarten programs can also get discounts on certain products in the store.

On Friday, Vale is hosting a shindig open to the community with cocktails, jazz and hors d’oeuvres. There’ll also be baby animals from a nearby farm, not something you see every day in the South End. The event runs from 4 – 8 p.m.

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