Sweet Pierre’s, the venerable “boutique du chocolat” located in Wilton Center, has a new owner.
Hillary Morrissy, a Wilton resident since 2006, purchased the business from its founder, Nancy Saxe, who opened the shop in 2010.
GOOD Morning Wilton reached out to Morrissy to see what’s in store, literally and figuratively, under her stewardship.
Unique Path To Ownership
Morrissy’s career path was hardly a straight line to owning a specialty chocolate shop.
“I have no background in retail, and no background in the chocolate or food industry,” Morrissy admitted.
Morrissy earned a law degree and worked as a prosecutor before moving to Wilton, but left that line of work many years ago. More recently, a number of factors came together to point her toward a Wilton-based, retail enterprise.
With her son now away at school, Morrissy’s new empty-nester status initially prompted her interest in finding a new endeavor — and after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, something with in-person interaction was especially appealing.
“Even though I had my friends and connections, I didn’t have that sort of daily interaction with people,” Morrissy said.
A dedicated PTA volunteer when her son attended Wilton public schools, Morrissy also drew some of her inspiration from the enjoyment she found in the annual PTA book sales.
“I think all the years I spent running the book fairs, I fell in love with selling and interactions and the life of that,” she recalled. “I just loved it for those five or six days that we sold books.”
“I wanted to open something in [Wilton], never anywhere else. I love the town,” Morrissy said. “Wilton’s our home and I wouldn’t want to establish a business anywhere else.”
So when she heard the owner of Sweet Pierre’s was looking to sell the business, she quickly pursued it.
“Something just seemed perfect about it,” Morrissy said. “[The store] and Nancy [Saxe] were so beloved in town. I thought, wow, this one’s a really special business, with people who love the business and love the owner.”
Morrissy had high praise for Saxe, who managed the business from the start through the most challenging days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She made this business the success that it is,” said Morrissy. “Seldom can you just step into a well run, turnkey business, and with Sweet Pierre’s I not only purchased the brick and mortar, but also all of the wisdom of the former owner.”
Morrissy officially took the reins on Nov. 1, but Saxe has continued to be involved in the business for a period of transition, offering the new owner her expertise on everything from inventory to bow-tying.
Morrissy says customers can expect Saxe will remain involved, and possibly even see her in the store, in the busy time leading up to the holidays.
Learning The Business, Staying The Course
Morrissy doesn’t plan to rock the boat.
“I absolutely want to keep the store as it has been,” she emphasized. “Nancy [Saxe] has had tremendous success.”
Though there was more to learn than she anticipated when it came to the many different product lines carried in the store, Morrissy sees no reason to edit the well-curated assortment, which includes a wide variety for specific tastes and dietary needs.
“Even just in the three three weeks I’ve been there, I’ve found that I’ve sold nearly every product in the store,” she said.
She recounted several examples of customers coming in asking for their personal favorites such as black licorice, German marzipan, even chocolate-covered gummy bears, among others.
“For true chocolate connoisseurs, there’s a niche,” she said. “There’s a product for every person, and they definitely have their own particular thing that they love.”
She likened it to the wine business.
“It’s like wine enthusiasts, who know which wine is their absolute favorite. It’s the same with real chocolate lovers,” she said.
While items such as specialty cookies, cocoa and teas will still be in the store, Morrissy says chocolates and candies will continue to account for the majority of the products — about 90%.
She noted that nut-free items and vegan items will also have year-round presence in the store. Baking chocolate is available as well.
Gift baskets — another Sweet Pierre’s customer favorite — will be offered during the holiday season and upon special request.
Morrissy wants to assure the store’s loyal customers that she plans to closely follow Saxe’s lead.
“The products that you love will be there,” she said. “I want residents to know the differences, if any, will be so minor that you won’t notice.”
“And I will do my best to be just as charming and chatty and knowledgeable as Nancy,” Morrissy said.
Sweet Pierre’s is located at 5 River Road, in Kimco’s Wilton River Park shopping center.