Habit: Retail Therapy
Photography by Deborah McCarthy
Pam Santorelli is a South Boston business pioneer. Opening her boutique Habit on East Broadway almost nine years ago, Pam had the insight to see that Southie was on the cusp of an influx of new residents – fashionable residents. “I always knew that I wanted to work in the fashion/retail world somehow and dreamed about opening a boutique one day. I love the neighborhood and thought it would be a perfect place. I had lots of young women friends that moved here after college and could see that it was happening more and more. I also got a little nudge from my friends Joey and Julian that own the Playwright and the Beer Garden, so that helped since they have been in business here for a very long time. I crossed our fingers and made the leap forward,” says Pam.
Since opening, Habit has become one of the most popular boutiques in South Boston for wardrobe staples, fun trends and an amazing selection of accessories. Habit also won the coveted Best of Boston Award by Boston Magazine in 2008. This past September, Pam herself was awarded the Thomas Butler Award for small business leadership. “I was honored to receive it and am so proud of it! I’m honored to now call Southie home,” says Pam.
On any given day, you can usually find Pam (always fashionably dressed) manning the fort that is Habit. She is approachable and happy to offer a suggestion for the perfect date-night outfit or just the right gift for a friend. After a brutal winter, Pam is also helping the South Boston Chamber of Commerce breath some new life into business this spring with the first ever South Boston Spring Stroll on Thursday, April 16th from 5pm-9pm.
Tell us about the Spring Stroll
As business owners, we are trying to give back to the community by organizing events to bring people out and about, and to be more involved in the neighborhood. Ideally, I would love for South Boston to have a monthly event for everyone to look forward to. As for the stroll, each participating business will offer something fun to their customers which may include discounts, drinks, food tastings, etc. We are hoping for good weather for the evening, so people can come out to shop, sip and save while supporting small businesses. We are also having a”bingo card” for customers to make it a little bit more fun for everyone. It’s kind of like a mini scavenger hunt! If you complete it, you have a chance to win a gift basket filled with great prizes!”
Favorite thing about owning a business in South Boston?
The people. I have loved and love getting to know our customers and meeting such great people in the neighborhood! I just love it here and am so proud to be part of this amazing community. Southie truly has it all!
Why is it so important for people to support small independent businesses in their neighborhood?
It is super important to support local businesses when possible. Local independent businesses are what keeps a neighborhood versatile. Having all these small unique shops give you something different than what you always see in the bigger stores. Plus, the more shops in the neighborhood makes for very convenient shopping!
What type of new businesses would you like to see open in Southie?
I would love to see any and all types of small business come to South Boston. There is room for it, and as we are all aware, South Boston’s neighborhood is growing everyday. A few more restaurants, more boutiques and any and all little unique shops would be great! What I really want to see in South Boston is a parking garage or2 or 3. Our community really needs parking!
Tell me about your new business venture:
Wears + Wares will be opening in South Boston on East Broadway come spring. I am partnering with Julian Bolger and Clodagh Donnellyto open a small accessories/home/clothing shop, focusing on gift items and accessories. We will also be carrying a small selection of women’s shoes and just a little splash of men’s items. We will be located in part of the old Flood Square building. I’m excited about it!
The Scoop on Pam:
- Grew up in Woburn
- Has lived in South Boston for 15 years
- Went to college at Chamberlayne school of Design and Merchandising at Mt. Ida College for fashion merchandising and marketing
- Her first “fashion” job was at Louis Boston where she worked for 7 years
- Was a Patriots Cheerleader for four years
- Pam is also a closet consultant – a service she offers through Habit. “We work one on one with clients to help them either rebuild a wardrobe or help them to work with their existing collection, and enhance what they already have. A closet cleanse is always a good start. Shopping and recreating your own closet can be such a fun experience!”
As for the neighborhood of South Boston, Pam loves it and loves being an active part of it. “ I love being so close to the water and the beauty of running down the beach or just relaxing by the water for a couple of hours during the summer. We really do have the best of both worlds – city living and the beach. South Boston is such a close knit community and I feel lucky to be a part of it. People are so friendly and always willing to help out. I’ve felt this way from the very beginning and It feels like home to me.”