December 7th, 2012, my town had their Holiday Happenings Night. They shut down Main Street and all the shops along the downtown main area opened up an extra two hours and there were many festivities for the families along the way; hayrides, photos, a tree lighting, cocoa, etc. So I thought it a good opportunity to have the kids go out and have fun. And it was a fun night!
When we initially got to Main Street that Friday night, my kids were so excited to be able to run up and down the street safely, that they just took off doing airplanes, ballerina jumps and skipping around. We quickly caught up to them across the street to make sure they had their hats and scarves on tight, and we ended up stopping in front of a store with a sign out front: STORE CLOSING! ALL ITEMS 30% OFF TONIGHT! My heart just broke when I saw this sign. I turned to my oldest daughter with my glum face, and started securing her scarf. She could tell I was bothered and couldn’t help but ask what was wrong. So, I started telling her the story of my first Spring in this town, our town. I was 5 months pregnant with her, and I’d go on daily drives absorbing street names and places to go. Well, the store with the closing sign, that we were standing in front of, was the first store I shopped. The store front was eclectically filled with gifts, signs, and home decor; and at the time, they had these handsome birdhouses on stakes that I still dream of owning. The interior of the store was stocked with so much that my eyes didn’t know where to start looking. It was a fun store, and the staff was sweet. I shopped there a few times, and at least once with my Mom and sisters. My daughter started to ask why they were closing (if to me they were a good shop). I explained to her that there are different reasons a shop closes. But mostly, if people don’t support the shop then the store isn’t able to survive. Then I used some analogy with Radiator Springs from Cars, and she seemed happier.
Towns move on.
People forget. Like me.
I know not everything lasts forever, but in that snippet of a story I am hoping to give some light to some people to be more local. That store closed for any number of reasons, but I couldn’t help to think it’s the patrons were going elsewhere. The thought that I took for granted that it would always be in Andover Center, and now it’s already gone, makes me so sad. I walked into the store last weekend. The place was ripped apart cause the sale was now at 70% off. The owner was handing off free merchandising shelves and stuff that were real old and rickety. The place was hopping busy with people asking questions about the business, and/or buying things on super discount. What I overheard was the owner, after 22 years, just couldn’t keep up with the commute any longer now that her life changed so much over the years. She was closing shop. Still a sad story, and kept me thinking about keeping my life local.
Since I started my thing to be more local last year, I thought it appropriate to talk about supporting our local businesses. Support the local stores and artisans in your community. Doing this will actually help your town thrive. It will keep those unique items in your town, and in turn make your town unique. It will help support entrepreneurship. If the shops do well they can hire more people and bring jobs to the town, and possibly open more locations. It can just do so much good. If you have a family, it will keep them rooted to the town, as I am learning. And, if anything will help you think about it, it personally can save you GAS!
My family and friends have heard me talk about the shops in my town about a million times- even those franchise ones like Starbucks! SO! I am going to take this opportunity to talk about them here too. 🙂
Holidays have passed. But new ones are on the horizons. My favorite times to shop for are actually not holidays at all. They are those moments you want to treat yourself, or your loved one, to that something special. I learned that the local shops in my town are a GREAT treasure for these moments.
Some of my favorite local (Massachusetts) shops.
There is a shop in my downtown area that opened up last January, Nest. I cannot tell you how much I love this store and every time I go in for a visit I am made to feel special. The look of the store on its own is enough to make any person drool. Its perfectly decorated store front draws you in to browse the whole store; which is merchandised like a girls dream. Awesome jewelry, accessories and scarves, wedding accessories, children accessories, too, and all at affordable prices! I know in Andover! The one thing that I find important is how customers are treated by retail stores. Ask anyone that knows me and they know what I am talking about. Customer perception of a store is soooo important, and how we are treated even more so. I have always been treated special at Nest. The owner is so cheerful and greets me with a smile. She is always quick with a tour of what is new; and she remembers me, which is something that I miss out in the bigger stores. I want to be remembered darnit!! My purchases are always wrapped, boxed and bagged so when I get home it’s like a whole new gift experience. I love this type of personal service. The idea that the owner stops what she is doing to say hello, and is happy to show me all the beautiful accessories, then gives me details about each item being local, is what the small business is all about right? Giving you that touch, that contact, where you are right there with them proud to be their patron.
Same thing goes for Salon Forza! This new salon is dripping with style from the woodwork and lighting to the flooring and seating; it has great presence and it’s modern with warmth. The staff is always personable, friendly and accommodating from the second you walk in the door. I rave about the salon and the owner often for a reason. The owner has been my stylist since I moved into town in 2004. She just opened up this salon on Elm Street in my town. It is gorgeous and to know where she came from to what she is achieving makes me proud. And I am just a client! She is pure talent, the type of talent you follow, and she’s a wonderfully positive person on top of it all. I found the stylist that I always wanted to find. *At the salon. The bronze chairs in the hair washing section are off the hook comfortable, and have an air massage technology that I look forward to every visit too!
The Relaxstation Therapeutic Massage is the best of the best. There isn’t enough I can say about this place! The owner’s personality is so calming. She really listens, and truly has a gift with her knowledge of the body, muscles, nerves and everything. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Lauren, the owner, for helping me through a painful sciatic issue this year. Literally from the second she touched my leg I felt the pain subside. A nerve pain I was suffering with for 6 months. Both my husband and I are clients of the Relaxstation, and highly recommend a visit.
Chic Consignment. Well, ladies, it is a brand name luxury dream. Yes, this is gently worn/used items, but the staff at the Chic Consignment have such a particular eye because all the items are fabulous, chic, and practically brand new. I am talking about GUCCI shoes, PRADA handbags, DVF, TRUE RELIGION jeans/clothing, COACH, and so much label you will be shocked like I was the first time I went in! They are always friendly when you walk in and you can lose yourself at least for an hour browsing. They have dressing rooms, mirrors and lots of stuff to try on.
Even through Etsy.com, you can support your local artisans! A hidden gem is local artist, and owner, of The ArtHausStudios. The ArtHausStudios creates unique pieces of jewelry, hair accessories, and the like, with striking colors, in vintage styles, but also using exclusive upcycled/recycled materials. There is a silk wrap bracelet on that site that is to die for!! Just to share a more personal aspect of the artistic mind behind the jewelry. Not only is her style unique.she created a one of a kind ornament for me this Christmas out of a coffee bean bag, recycled Starbucks tin and her uniquely spun metal version of a coffee bean. Click on the link, it is just awesome! Not that she makes them for the masses, but just to tell you about her attention to quality, style and person that she is. One of a kind finds from a one of a kind artist.
Another local! The best idea to leave your guests with a tangible and memorable image of your party is caricatures, am I right? Well, the best in Boston and a handsome local guy is See Mike Draw! Mike draws in-person caricatures of high quality for corporate events, outings, trade shows or personal parties. He is all over Boston and towns surrounding working high profile events to local fun spots. Click on the link, you will want to hire him for your next event. Also, this local guy is my husband! How we met actually was through one of his jobs doing caricatures. Back in 1996! 🙂
I absolutely love personalized gifts for children. I worked with KatieJoBelle’s Gifts on a few custom projects (click on the link and view the photos of my children from Disney..the red/white pillowcase dresses and the embroidered tees with their names were from KJB), for my children and gifts for family friends. Her work is always perfect! She has a ton of patterns, ideas, and is great fun to work with. I had an idea for an embroidered towel that she executed perfectly! Made a great First Birthday present for my good friends’ daughter!
I would love, REALLY LOVE, if you reading would post your favorite local spots, artists, or musicians. Let me know where they are, their websites or whatever you want to say about them. No matter where you are from. Getting the word out about where you love to go is a great way to get the networking out for people to go and venture! I love traveling somewhere knew and going to a spot someone is passionate telling me about. Usually leads to a great experience. The whole reason why it was recommended.
Don’t let your town turn into Radiator Springs, the former. 😉
Featured photo taken from Nest Andover’s Facebook website. Thought it encapsulated the theme of this blog.