BUSSINESS SPOTLIGHT: Meet the team at Mud Puddle Toys

The following is an interview with Mud Puddle Toys owner Cassandra Sturdivant Watt, conducted by Discover Marblehead. To learn more and shop all their amazing toys and books, stop by the store at 1 Pleasant St. in Marblehead or go to mudpuddletoys.com.

Tell us about Mud Puddle Toys and why you bought it. Mud Puddle Toys has been a staple of downtown Marblehead since 2003 but faced closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. I was friends with the original owners, Kristen and Sam Pollard, so we worked together on a plan to transition ownership over to me. I could not imagine Marblehead without our neighborhood toy store. I have three children who, at the time, were 4, 6, and 8 years old. I knew my children, and so many children and families in Marblehead, would be devastated if the store closed. Thankfully that didn’t happen. We had our grand reopening in May 2021.

Mud Puddle Toys owner Cassandra Sturdivant Watt, center,  poses with store manager Jenn Brooks, far left, and employee Naeemah Adams outside the toy store located at 1 Pleasant St. Sturdivant Watt credits her staff for the store’s success since she took over ownership in 2021. COURTESY PHOTO / MUD PUDDLE TOYS

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? The best advice I ever got was how important it is to hire and retain the best staff possible. I was extremely grateful that Jenn Brooks, the longtime manager of Mud Puddle Toys, stayed on with us. I also hired Naeemah Adams, who I had known for some time and had come from a retail background. I can honestly say that the reason the store is doing as well as it is today is because of the hard work and dedication of those two wonderful women. I’d be in the weeds without them, and I am reminded daily of how fortunate I am to have them here with me at Mud Puddle.

What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? Mookie’s! As I write this, I am having a wonderful breakfast of toast and peanut butter and a delicious tea from Mookie’s. Jenn, Naeemah and I are there all the time and think that Tish and her staff do an amazing job. I love that we have such great small businesses here in Marblehead.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? Many people are surprised to learn that I’m a librarian. I finished up my master’s in library and information science from Simmons when I was nine months pregnant with my oldest son, then was a stay-at-home mom until I took over Mud Puddle Toys, so I never really got the chance to use my degree in a traditional sense. However, I bring a lot of my knowledge about libraries and community engagement into my work at Mud Puddle, which is really great.

The business spotlight is a weekly feature published in partnership with Discover Marblehead. Discover Marblehead is dedicated to the promotion of Marblehead. Our mission is to highlight local businesses, tourism, community events and attractions through social media, email marketing and community outreach. To learn more, visit discovermhd.com.

Melissa Stacey
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