Located in seaside Swampscott is a small gift shop that prides itself on offering customers items they won’t find anywhere else.
That’s because the store, The Hiccup, Inc., located at 158 Humphrey St., features the work of local artisans and craftspeople on the North Shore, according to its website.
“Explore the world and shop local, and support area artisans, makers and creators on the North Shore of Boston in the beautiful seaside community of Swampscott,” the website says. “We also feature those items you won’t find at most big-box retailers or on Amazon.”
Even the store’s name is unique.
Store owner and town resident Lisa Boemer said the idea for the shop’s name came from her daughter, who used to use the term “hiccup,” to describe a tough situation in life.
And Boemer is no stranger to overcoming a tough situation. In fact, her battle with breast cancer 20 years ago is what sparked her interest in starting her own business.
Two decades ago, Boemer was working in the corporate world. But when she defeated cancer, she said she came to the realization that there was more to life than corporate America. So, she began to delve into a past passion from high school: drawing.
Boemer decided to take a year off from work to become more adept in art. During this time, she learned a lot about the human brain; her father had given her a book called “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” written by Betty Edwards.
“That book changed my life so much, so I went to New York City and took a class with the author’s son,” said Boemer.
After that experience, Boemer realized that she wanted to enter the local art world on a full-time basis. Opening a store that featured art from the area began to look like more than a pipe dream, she said.
“I realized I can’t go back to corporate America; there’s something else I need to be doing,” said Boemer, who began to brainstorm what that “something” could be.
In keeping with the unique aspect of her business, Boemer opened The Hiccup on Leap Day last year, Feb. 29, 2020. She said the store offers customers a chance to “travel the world and shop locally.”
While other businesses struggled during this time with the COVID-19 pandemic, Boemer said she used her inability to open her new store in-person to her advantage. She offered online shopping with curbside pickup and free delivery. She also worked around the clock, which helped many local artists, as her store was one of the only places that was selling their work at the time.
Her business strategy also provided customers with another option at a time when it was taking larger stores weeks to deliver similar products.
“I had puzzles in stock; at this point, it was taking people eight weeks to get something through Amazon and it maybe wouldn’t even show up,” said Boemer.
The Hiccup website ties the store into “Seaside Swampscott,” described on Facebook as a business center that Boemer and other business owners along Humphrey Street are working to establish.
Seaside Swampscott is aimed at allowing small business owners to connect and help each other with their businesses. Whether it be a gift shop, a liquor store, restaurants, or wineries, these businesses are working together to help transform the seaside into a local, must-see attraction in town.
While this initiative has not officially started, Boemer is working with other business owners to make maps of the area and plan big shopping events like Black Friday.
“Seaside is where you create experiences and memories; the other part is where you run errands,” said Boemer.