Here’s one of the things I love about working at Pear Tree: I know what every single one of us is doing for Christmas.

As a customer I’ve always loved the boutique shopping experience. Don’t get me wrong—I wouldn’t be able to function without Target and Trader Joe’s to keep us provisioned, and if there wasn’t a Home Depot nearby, our house would still be quite the fixer-upper.Pear Tree team picture 2014

But boutique shopping is different, as anyone who’s browsed our site or bought a wedding dress or splurged on that expensive baby crib (Hey, safety and comfort matter!) knows. The employee walking through the kids’ section at Target while I’m Christmas shopping may be friendly, but he’s got the contents of an entire store to memorize and dozens of customers to help. How’s he supposed to know what my particular four year old might like? How can I expect him to listen for ten (or even two) minutes to a description of my son and the toys he likes playing with?

Boutiques are great because we do have the time, or, at any rate, are committed to making the time. For us, whether or not our customers are satisfied is the central question. Regardless of whether the site is effective and easy to use (it is) or whether or not we get the product to our customers on time (trust me, we will), if they’re not satisfied with what we give them, we’ve failed. And we take that seriously.

But what most people don’t get to see is the other side of a boutique: working at one. And it’s great. There are seventeen of us here and I could not only name each and every person in under thirty seconds, but if given five minutes I could give a fairly accurate synopsis of all our life stories. (But I’m discrete, so don’t think that I would).

I know that Angela is keeping it just close family this year, an intimacy that post-children I’ve all but forgotten. Tyler is going more down our route with lots of family to entertain and drive to. And Dani and her husband, just a year and a half married, will be spending the New Year’s holiday living it up with their friends.

For us it’s Christmas with my Mom, which means ham, potatoes, green beans and lots of laughing. My husband Andrew’s family comes in the immediate aftermath, which means even more laughing plus a liberal dose of my brother-in-law, Morgan’s baked goods. Then to New Year’s—my little brother’s third anniversary—which the five of us will ring in with champagne (sparkling cider for the kids) and a toast to continued happiness.

I love working at a boutique because I get to hear everyone’s stories. And I get to tell mine.