Chase and Samantha Dennis had a vision. As parents of preschool-aged boys living in Houston, the couple saw stores catering to children that were more than simply places to buy apparel and accessories – they were gathering spaces for parents and kids alike.
So when the family moved to Abilene in 2020, they wanted to create a similar type of establishment that went well beyond simply a retail space.
“We wanted a platform to give back to the community and help others, because there are not a lot of choices for children’s fashion like you get in larger cities,” said Chase. He was born in Abilene and spent a little over two years in Houston before moving home with Samantha and their boys, Knox and Wyatt.
It is through this desire to be “a place for whatever Abilene wants” that they created Magnolia and Oak, a “classically modern children’s boutique” that not only carries specialty apparel and one-of-a kind toys and accessories, but is also one where parents can shop or socialize while their children play.
“We wanted to have something that is enjoyable for parents as well as children,” said Samantha.
Over a third of the store is dedicated to a children’s playroom complete with a tent, a reading table and plenty of toys. As parents of small children themselves, the Dennis’ know firsthand how important changing a child’s environment can be to warding off any potential meltdowns.
“When you’re a stay-at-home parent, a change of pace can be a really big deal and can often change the tone of the day,” said Chase. “So if a child is upset, we want this to be somewhere people can come and let the child play and hopefully get redirected.”
Magnolia and Oak keep plenty of child-appropriate snacks on hand, as well as treats for the adults, including beer, wine, champagne and sparkling water.
“Sometimes it’s not just the kids who need a change of pace,” Chase said. “If mom is having ‘one of those days,’ it’s nice to come to the store, socialize or just relax while their child plays.”
In keeping with this family-centric approach, Magnolia and Oak also has what the couple refer to as a Mother’s Room, where moms can bring their child to nurse.
“If you’re downtown and need a quiet place to nurse or pump, you can always come in here and if you have other small children with you they can hang out in the playroom,” said Chase. “This is a great place for both the baby and any older children to reset.”
Chase and Samantha offer a thoughtfully-curated selection of clothing from newborn to size 8, as well as unique toys and accessories, such as blankets, quilts and diaper bags.
“Everything we carry at Magnolia and Oak goes beyond just being pretty,” Samantha said. “All of our vendors bring the same heart to their products as we do to this store. They are all so passionate about giving back to some pretty amazing causes.”
One product the Dennis’ are particularly proud to offer are Appaman Suits, which range in size from 2T to 18 years and are top-of the-line suits that can be tailored specifically to the child.
“These are European-styled suits that children can get out a couple of years wear,” said Chase. “The owners built their company on an anti-bullying platform, and they want every child – no matter how young – to look good and feel confident in their clothes.”
“All the brands we sell have meaning behind them,” Samantha added. “They are good things made by good people doing good stuff and we want to use this space to do good things for Abilene.”
Magnolia and Oak is located at 1124 N. 2nd in downtown and is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11-6. They can be found on Facebook or Instagram at @magnoliaandoaktx, where weekly book readings and special events are announced at the beginning of each month.
By Molly Hill
Photos Courtesy or Magnolia and Oak