Louise Mawhinney was a loyal customer of Duck Soup for nearly 20 years before she bought the specialty foods and housewares store in Sudbury, where she also lives. Founded by the late Richard Ressler and later run by Pierre Weiss, Duck Soup has been a fixture in the Mill Village Plaza since 1971.
Q. What makes Duck Soup so special?
A. I’ve loved the ambience and the products since I moved here from the UK in 1985. Back in the day, it was the only place to get international foods. My son was a good friend of Pierre’s son, so my husband and I became good friends with Pierre and his wife, Daniela. He retired, and I couldn’t bear the thought of it not being here anymore, so I took over on Oct. 1, 2014. Daniela still works here.
Q. How do you keep 20,000 individual items straight?
A. It was very challenging to get up to speed. In addition to all the specialty foods, we carry kitchenware, bakeware, cutlery, and other tools. We have Dreamfarm utensils from an Australian design firm. Their Mini Supoon is a very popular gift item. I’m also very excited about our new line of Livliga portion-control dinnerware and glassware.
Q. What differentiates Duck Soup from a grocery store?
A. Our number-one seller is our special coffee blends, which we serve general store-style out of big bins with sample cups so you can see if you like it. We do the same thing with herbs, so people can get whatever amount they need for recipes. We also have a large selection of teas, specialty cheeses, spreads, and hot sauces, and we’re known for our jars and jars of candies and nut-free chocolates. We keep those in a separate area of the store, away from the other confections.
Q. How are you putting more emphasis on special events?
A. We’ve always had cookbook signings and cookware demos, but we’re expanding into activities like cookie decorating. There will be something fun going on every Saturday afternoon for all ages to enjoy.
Q. Despite so much inventory, do you ever get a request for something you don’t carry?
A. All the time. If we can find it, we’ll be glad to special-order it. It’s a really interesting place to work because I learn so firstname.lastname@example.org.