Athena’s finds new home in Highland Corporate

Athena’s finds new home in Highland Corporate

Athena’s Home Novelties owner Jennifer Jolicoeur pictured in her office at the company’s new headquarters at 1296 Park East Drive. Bellingham Electric will expand into their former location at 640 Winter St. (Breeze photo by Lauren Clem)
Bellingham Electric expanding on Winter Street

WOONSOCKET – A mainstay of Winter Street for the past 17 years has officially found a new home in Highland Corporate Park.

Athena’s Home Novelties, owned by local businesswoman Jennifer Jolicoeur, held its ribbon cutting last week at 1296 Park East Drive. The combined office and warehouse condominium is one of several tucked among the larger corporate offices of the business park on the Woonsocket/Cumberland line.

Jolicoeur said the move was unexpected. In April, members of the Autumnfest Steering Committee made a surprise visit to the company’s former headquarters at 640 Winter St. to announce she’d been selected as the grand marshal of this year’s Autumnfest parade. Only a week later, she said, she learned the building’s new owners had other plans for the space she’d rented for the past 17 years.

“I was on this high from the grand marshal and then a week later I felt like someone hit me with a sledgehammer,” she said.

Those other plans involve the expansion of another local business. According to Richard Petrin, the owner of the building, Bellingham Electric will be expanding into the recently vacated second floor. The company had already rented a smaller space on the building’s third floor, he said, and will use the larger area as a storage facility while maintaining their showroom on Pulaski Boulevard.

“It’s going to be a lot better for them, more streamlined, and probably a lot less time moving stuff around,” he said.

Petrin is the owner of NorthEast Finishing, a spray painting and powder coating company that’s also operated out of the building for most of the last two decades. Petrin said he decided to purchase the building from the previous owner under the name Pine Hill LLC last year. City tax records indicate the building sold for $1,030,000 last March.

As part of the shuffle, Petrin said he also expects to take up more space on the building’s third floor in addition his company’s current quarters on the ground level. Business has been good, he said, despite the price hikes and shortages complicating the manufacturing industry.

“We’re doing fine. Sometimes it’s too much business,” he said.

While the move was unexpected, Jolicoeur said it’s turned out to be something of a blessing. A few weeks after relocating, she said, staff are happy at the new business park location, which offers more modern amenities than the former warehouse building. The walls are painted signature Athena’s purple, and framed records of their accomplishments already line the hallway leading to staff offices.

“It feels like home here now,” she said during a tour of the new space.

The biggest challenge, she said, was fitting all of the company’s products and offices into the new, 3,500-square-foot unit. Their former space on Winter Street was 12,000 square feet. With an “all hands on deck” approach and some creative stacking, she said, staff was able to relocate their products to the new storage area. Jolicoeur said she looks forward to using the weather-sealed loading dock at the back of the building, a feature she didn’t have in the old space.

Prior to Athena’s moving in, the unit was home to ExpoTrac, an event services company that shut down in the midst of the pandemic last year.

Last Thursday, July 15, Jolicoeur hosted Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, family members and other local business owners at a celebration of the new space. With her 50th birthday later in the week and the effects of the pandemic on business beginning to ease off, Jolicoeur said she looks forward to a new chapter.

“I just felt like this is like a whole new beginning. It’s symbolic, cutting away the old and welcoming the new,” she said.