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Serving Up a New Reality

Peter Rosskothen

Peter Rosskothen says banquet facilities have had to become more selective about which events they take on.

For an events and catering industry devastated by the pandemic in 2020 and still hampered in 2021, this past year was certainly reason to celebrate.

“It’s been an incredibly strong year post-COVID,” said Seth Mias, owner of Seth Mias Catering in Leeds. “We had quite a few people making up for postponements, and a really robust season overall.”

The problem, said Mias and others we spoke with, is that it can be difficult to meet that demand due to a workforce crunch that has hit this sector hard.

“The challenge is staffing, obviously — getting people to come back to work — and supply-chain issues,” he noted. “Honestly, we were able to work through all that and had a really good season. To me, it seemed like clients were gracious and understanding about some of the challenges we’re facing as opposed to other years, like when certain products were unavailable.”

Peter Rosskothen has faced some of those realities as well, but said the Holyoke businesses he owns — including the Log Cabin, Delaney House, and Log Rolling Catering — have weathered them well.

“It’s been an above-average year — actually, a very good year,” he told BusinessWest. “Business has been very strong. Attendance to events is a little lower than it used to be, but the quantity of events, and the quality of events, has been better.

“The world is different,” he added. “We are much more focused on smart events for us. So we’re not giving stuff away, we’re charging more, and we’re being selective in the process to make sure we have staff and the ability to do something right.”

That selectiveness forced by workforce realities has changed the entire event industry quite a bit, Rosskothen added. “We just don’t say yes to everything anymore.”

Peg Boxold, owner of Elegant Affairs Catering in Springfield, has had to become more selective as well. “Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve got business, no problem, but we don’t have the staff. My staff have other jobs, just like the rest of the world. So we do what we can.”

During one past holiday season, she recalled, the company had a couple of days with 12 different events at different venues. “But now I have to think twice about doing two parties in one day, depending on whether I have staff. Also, it’s tough sometimes getting product for the kitchen, so if I don’t get the menu soon enough, I’ve got to hunt for the product. It’s not an easy world out there, and the profit margin is so much tighter now; we’ve had to go up on prices. It’s a new world.”

Like others we spoke with, Boxold said turning down business is simply a matter of not taking on a job she may not be equipped, because of staffing, to do well; she noted that she’s built up a reputation over more than three decades for quality events, and won’t risk that on understaffed bookings.

“I’ve worked too hard for too many years to jeopardize everything now for something I know I’m not going to be able to handle.”

“I had one lady call in September; she wanted a lunch on a Wednesday for 200 people, a plated meal. I said, ‘I can do a buffet setup the day before, but I don’t have the staff for plated.’ She wanted to be served, so I said, ‘sorry, I can’t.’ I’m not going to take something I don’t feel comfortable with in terms of quality of product and quality of service. I’ve worked too hard for too many years to jeopardize everything now for something I know I’m not going to be able to handle.

Even the events that do go on are more challenging, Boxold added. “Last week, I had a Thursday fashion-show luncheon in Wilbraham for 90 people. I begged, borrowed, and stole people to make it happen.”

 

Picking and Choosing

Rosskothen said he expects the upcoming holiday season to be a bit slower than in past, pre-pandemic years.

“I haven’t read any statistics, but my instinct tells me corporate is still slow to do group parties. So we see them, but we don’t see them to the level we used to. Every Friday and Saturday is booked, but if you go back a few years, we used to be booked five days a week. So it’s a little different than in previous years, and again, the selective process of picking and choosing the business that fits our company also gets rid of a few.”

The Log Cabin won’t be hosting group holiday parties this year, he explained, noting that the Delaney House, with its smaller rooms, is being used for smaller parties, while the Log Cabin focuses on big events.

And events are ‘big’ in different ways, Rosskothen noted. Wedding attendance is down, from an average around 170 years ago to 120 today, partly due to today’s marrying couples being slightly older. But the average per-head charge is up.

“This generation knows what they want; they’re very specific about their wishes, and it pushes the check average up,” he explained, noting that, once they book the event and set their guest list, they’re willing to pay more for certain things. “Prime rib used to be included in all our prices. Now, if you want prime rib, its $8 a head more. But the people who want it select it.”

The biggest challenge dealing with customers is that the price of everything is up these days.

“When somebody’s booked a long time in advance, which happens mostly on the wedding side of the industry, it’s very frustrating. There’s a budget established, and you kind of have a vision, but if you planned a wedding two years ago, you’re paying 20% more than you were planning. And that’s a big jump, especially if somebody’s on a budget. But there’s no choice; our costs are easily 20% higher versus pre-pandemic.”

For the most part, people have been understanding, Rosskothen added.

“I think most understand, though once in a while we get questions — ‘why this is $5 more a head?’ We go through the process and explain it, but I’d say 99% of the people kind of expect it.”

Mias agreed that this holiday season seems a bit slower than what he’s seen in the past. “I’m booking a solid base now, and just looking to do some fill-in booking at this point.”

Over the years, his business has morphed into a wedding-reception-focused enterprise, with those events gradually shifting from 10% to 15% of his bookings to around 85% today. “But we’re still doing corporate events, retirements, funerals, things like that.”

Many clients postponed events during the pandemic, he noted, which led to a scramble to fit them in with new business once COVID restrictions eased; only a few clients couldn’t make a new date work and had to go elsewhere.

 

Out and About

Rosskothen wonders how his industry will be affected by a trend he’s observed in the younger generation of not wanting to go out as much, and not valuing networking as much as young professionals used to. But he’s especially focused on economic trends.

“I think 2023 is going to be very interesting; I don’t know where it’s going to go. Are we really going into recession? I think people are going to contract and be careful. If the national climate changes, that’s going to affect us. So I’m a little worried about 2023, I really am.”

Still, he added, “it’s too early to tell. We might get out of this. There’s a lot of money in the economy, and a lot of companies have saved money, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.”

Most people these days are not afraid of COVID when it comes to gatherings, he added. Boxold agreed, but noted that Elegant Affairs has COVID-friendly, individually packaged meal options as well. “For a lot of companies, it’s important for them to be able to stay in business and make sure everything is COVID-friendly, so we can do something for their employees but keep it within the parameters of COVID-friendliness.”

As she noted earlier, demand for events of all kinds is there. Meeting that demand with steady staff, however, is a persistent challenge.

“Hopefully it changes somewhere down the road,” Boxold said. “I’m assuming people have to go back to work at some point; they have to pay the bills. I don’t know whether they’re opting for other jobs or still sitting at home. I just can’t get a good read on everything. But I think it’s coming back, and that people will be coming back to work.”

Mias said 2022 was one of his strongest years — if not financially, then with the quality of events.

“Looking at the product we were able to put out with all the challenges, I thought it was a great year,” he added. “Hopefully the next few weeks continue on that path, and 2023 is looking just as good. We keep plugging along.”

 

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Shop Local Special Coverage

Local Call

Michelle Wirth, left, with Lexi Walters Wright

Michelle Wirth, left, with Lexi Walters Wright, owner of High Five Books, one of the many area companies now showcased on the Feel Good Shop Local platform.

If anyone needed any proof concerning the importance of buying local to the regional economy, Michelle Wirth said, it came during the pandemic.

As consumers were forced to shop from their computers, except for what they could find at the supermarket or the big-box stores allowed to stay open, they resorted to Amazon and, for the most part, the national brands with which they were familiar.

As a result, a good number of smaller retailers were just not able to carry on and had to close their doors, putting some people out of work as they did so. Many of those storefronts are still vacant, impacting vibrancy on Main Street — and many other streets as well. Meanwhile, the jobs created by those stores, and the local spending generated by them — on everything from marketing to signs; electricity to office supplies — have been lost.

“During COVID, all of us were relying on online shopping more than ever before — we were relying on Instacart or some of the big names, Amazon, Nordstrom’s, L.L. Bean, Walmart … and when we could finally raise our heads and we were comfortable leaving our houses and driving around the neighborhood, I noticed that a lot of the stores that I had frequented prior to COVID were closed or closing,” said Wirth, who said this harsh reality was one of many factors that led her to launch Feel Good Shop Local, or FGSL, as it’s called, an online e-commerce platform that makes it easier for area residents and businesses to find local retailers, and much easier to do business with them.

In a word, the site — feelgoodshoplocal.com — ‘connects’ consumers with local retailers, said Wirth, adding that these connections benefit consumers, retailers, and communities alike.

“The vitality of our local communities is important. How do you ensure the vitality of our local communities? By supporting our local neighbors, the local stores, things that are happening in our backyard.”

There are now more than 20 businesses on the site, including Lenny Underwood’s Upscale Socks; High Five Books in Florence; Hallie’s Comet Fine Jewelry; Feather & Bloom, a florist, plant, and gift shop in Suffield, Conn.; Relax.Rinse.Repeat, a Westfield-based provider of organic health and beauty products; and many others. Upon visiting a participating shop, one can learn about it, see products, read reviews, and — this is the ultimate goal — place orders (more on all this later).

The Feel Good Shop Local site is one of the listings in our annual Buy Local Holiday Gift Guide, which includes a lengthy list of gift suggestions and places to find them starting on page XX. Wirth and others we spoke with said that the holidays are a good time — although any time is a good time — to remind people of the importance of shopping locally for all those reasons mentioned above.

In many ways, that message is resonating, said Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking at the Mill District in North Amherst, a mixed-use community that now features more than 130 housing units and an eclectic array of small shops. She noted that shopping with local retailers has become a priority for some, and even a political statement for others.

show off some of the many items at the store.

From left, Shauna Wallace, interim manager of the Mill District General Store; Hannah Rechtschaffen, director of Placemaking for the Mill District; and Tim O’Brien, senior Communications director for WD Cowls Inc., show off some of the many items at the store.

“People really find that, for them, shopping locally is meaningful beyond just the fact that it’s nice to go in and touch something and connect with someone,” she said. “They also feel a point of pride shopping locally, giving a gift that has a story they heard right from the artist that made it.

“It becomes this sense that people are part of the recovery,” Rechtschaffen went on. “And I think that this is both real and important. At places like this, people are able to come out and shop and meet the store owner, meet the people working there, meet people making things … it’s just a nicer experience and gives everyone a sense of recovery and reclaiming things.”

Melissa Peavay, marketing manager for Grove Real Estate, owner of the Longmeadow Shops, agreed. She said shopping local has, indeed, become a priority for many consumers, especially after the lessons — and the casualties — of the pandemic.

But she noted that ‘shopping local’ is a broad term. It means buying from local vendors, obviously, she said, but it also means buying from a local outlet of a national chain, one that is providing jobs and contributing to the vibrancy of a downtown, a mall, a shopping plaza (like the Longmeadow Shops), or a community.

“Shopping with people who own their own business and live locally is wildly important,” she said. “But it’s very important to come out and shop local, even if it’s a national chain; it’s local people who work at these stores.”

 

The Going Rate

There are two bathrooms in the General Store at the Mill District. One, very popular with children, features a jungle motif. The other one? Well, it features one-way glass on the entire wall facing the parking lot. Those using it can see out, but no one can see in.

“People really find that, for them, shopping locally is meaningful beyond just the fact that it’s nice to go in and touch something and connect with someone. They also feel a point of pride shopping locally, giving a gift that has a story they heard right from the artist that made it. It becomes this sense that people are part of the recovery.”

“Still, it can a little disconcerting or unnerving at first, but overall, it’s different, and it’s fun,” said Shauna Wallace, interim manager of the store, adding that the bathroom, said to be one of just a handful in the country with such one-way glass (the others are in tourist spots), has become a talking point. There’s even a sign on the property directing visitors to it that says “you have to go!”

While people might use this bathroom while visiting the store, and others at the Mill District, it is not the reason they go there, said Rechtschaffen, adding that their primary motivation is to find a unique mix of stores and shop locally. And the General Store provides maybe the best example of this.

It features thousands of different items, almost all of them from local vendors and artists: hand-made quilts from Night Sky Quilts in Amherst, maple syrup from Boyden Bothers Maple Syrup in Conway, dog treats from Berkshire Dog in Lanesboro, reclaimed cutting boards from Firefly Hollow in Leverett, local sauces and grocery items from the Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland … the list goes on.

Melissa Peavay

Melissa Peavay says the pandemic helped motivate many consumers to shop local.

As noted earlier, the General Store is just one of many small, locally owned shops in the Mill District. Others include the Closet, which offers vintage and ‘new to you’ clothing; Graze Craze, which offers customizable charcuterie boards and catering; the Lift Salon; Provisions, the Mill District Local Art Gallery; and many others. Collectively, they provide opportunities for people to find what they’re looking for, locate some unique gifts, and shop local in one spot.

It was this same objective that motivated Wirth to create the Feel Good Shop Local platform, which was sparked by the reality that local artists and retailers are simply not as visible as they would like to be.

“One of the reasons some people don’t shop local is because it’s hard — it’s time-consuming, especially if you’re a newcomer to the area, to find these places,” she said. “If you Google items, they don’t show up; if you Google ‘black sweater near me,’ you get the big-box stores, not the local stores. It’s a connection issue.”

Feel Good Shop Local was created to forge connections and enable people to shop at those stores when it’s convenient for them.

“As a mother of four, I’m shopping early in the morning and late at night, and, unfortunately, our local stores are not open at those hours,” Wirth said, adding that many people are similarly constrained by time.

But convenience is only part of the equation. The platform, which was launched during the Big E and is focused largely on gift giving, enables people to shop by recipient (everything from family members to pets; from teachers to co-workers), price, occasion, interest (from travel to wellness to pets — again), and values, everything from women-owned to BIPOC to ‘sustainable practices.’

Wirth considers the platform a classic win-win, or win-win-win, because it benefits consumers, local shops and artists, and communities across the region.

“The vitality of our local communities is important,” she said. “How do you ensure the vitality of our local communities? By supporting our local neighbors, the local stores, things that are happening in our backyard.”

As noted, 25 stores now participate on the platform, with another 25 or 30 in the pipeline, and as the holidays approach, Wirth expects interest in the site to rise. Participating businesses pay a 15% commission on each sale to FGSH, a lower rate than most other sites of this type.

The Mill District General Store is one of those businesses. Click on that site, and one can find a few dozen different items with the store’s own label, including spicy pickles, cracked peppercorn dressing, jams, salsa, and ‘Moonshine Barbecue Sauce.’

Wirth said the platform is essentially just getting started and is still “learning and growing.” She expects that as word of mouth spreads about its ability to make connections and generate sales, it will draw more local shops and artisans.

“The intention behind this is to create community — a community of sellers and a community of like-minded shoppers that are supporting these sellers in a way that is convenient for everyone.”

Meanwhile, with the holidays just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the season, which is increasingly clouded by questions about the economy, recession, inflation, and the impact of all that on spending.

Amid these concerns, there is, as noted earlier, growing encouragement of efforts to shop local and support businesses looking to make a full recovery from the pandemic.

Peavay said 2020 and 2021 were very difficult times for most all retailers, and some, as Wirth noted, were not able to successfully pivot and navigate their way through the whitewater.

The Longmeadow Shops saw a few casualties, she said, adding quickly that these vacancies have been filled, and the outdoor shopping plaza is now fully leased.

It features several locally owned stores, including Caren & Company, a clothing store; In Chic Shoenique, a merger of two stores, In Chic and Shoenique; Batch Ice Cream; Delaney’s Market; Max Burger; Posto; and the Shot Shop, a salon and spa.

In addition, it features a number of national chains, from J.Crew to Ann Taylor to the Gap, that provide jobs and contribute to the overall vibrancy of the complex and the town itself.

“If people don’t come out and stroll our sidewalks and shop in our stores, those national chains will leave,” Peavay said. “And then, people are disappointed; you always hear after someone closes, ‘I loved that store … why did it close?’ It’s super important to shop locally owned stores and to shop local, at the Longmeadow Shops or any shopping center, if you find that shopping center convenient.”

 

Bottom Line

There’s a ticker of sorts on the Feel Good Shop Local Site. It keeps a running track of the money spent at participating businesses through the site, under the header ‘Money Invested in the Local Economy.’

At present, that number is still in the five digits as the site continues to build visibility and a presence across the region. In time, it will go much higher, said Wirth, adding that, beyond this number, the site is creating those all-important connections that make it much easier for consumers to shop local first.

When they do, it is truly a win-win-win scenario.

 

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Shop Local Special Coverage

Gifts Close to Home

 

It’s not always easy to find the perfect gift item for everyone on your list, but, thankfully, Western Mass. provides plenty of experiences to share — from axe throwing to massages; from wine tastings to pottery making — not to mention gift items like books, toys, locally created art pieces … the list goes on. So, if you’re looking to shop local, eat local, and support area businesses and organizations — and, in turn, boost the region’s economy at a time when it could really use the lift — here are some suggestions to get you started. Happy holidays, and happy shopping!

 

Agawam Axe House

396 Main St., Suite A, Agawam

(413) 292-6549; www.agawamaxe.com

The Agawam Axe House is one of only a few axe-throwing spots in the area. With an 18+, reservation-only hour slot, people can practice their aim in one of the six lanes available; parties and events are also welcome. For a more family-friendly approach, Agawam Axe House offers ‘footbowling,’ the perfect combo of the fun of throwing a football and trying to knock town 10 pins in bowling for ages 12 and up. Gift certificates are available online and in-store.

 

Berkshire East Mountain Resort

66 Thunder Mountain Road, Charlemont

(413) 339-6618;
www.berkshireeast.com

Berkshire East is a four-season resort that offers a downhill mountain bike park, skiing, snowboarding, tubing, snowshoe trails, three zipline tours, whitewater rafting trips, one of the longest mountain coasters in the world, an adventure park, a rustic farm inn and wedding center, a restaurant, and lots of facilities at which to host an event or stay at after a day on the mountain. It also hosts group events. Passes, admission, and gift cards are available online.

 

Bohdii Boutique

34 Center Square, East Longmeadow

(413) 224-1672;
www.bohdiiboutique.com

The Bohdii Boutique is a women’s clothing boutique with a focus on trendy and affordable clothing. It also sells shoes, jewelry, hats, and accessories; there is also a home and wellness section, stocked with phone cases, wine glasses and wine tags, dog clothes, candles and matches, and keychains. The boutique holds pop-up events throughout the month at both its East Longmeadow and Boston locations.

 

Champagne Apothecary

38 School St., Westfield

(413) 579-5077;
www.champagneapothecary.com

At Champagne Apothecary, owner Amber Champagne-Matos — a licensed esthetician and herbalist for almost a decade — offers a vast variety of handcrafted self-care products, scents, and gifts, including but not limited to nail care, hair care, skin care, men’s grooming, fragrance, and Champagne-Matos’s own line, ETHYST Skincare. Gift cards are available. She offers virtual skin-care sessions and business-consulting sessions as well.

 

Common Grounds Cafe

2341 Boston Road, Wilbraham

(413) 279-1700

Coffee Grounds Cafe in the Wilbraham Shops offers a variety of coffees, teas, lattes and breakfast foods. The menu of this family- and pet-friendly establishment changes regularly, with seasonal options available for takeout or delivery. A small seated area is also available for dining in. Wilbraham Local Gift Cards are accepted here.

 

Connecticut Valley Brewing Co.

765 Sullivan Ave.,
South Windsor, Conn.

(860) 644-2707;
www.ctvalleybrewing.com

Connecticut Valley Brewing Co. has a taproom in South Windsor that offers an array of IPAs, pale ales, sours, lagers, NEIPAs, spiked seltzers, spiked smoothies, and more. Events are held at the taproom with a family-friendly atmosphere. In late 2019, the company launched Birdhouse Coffee, a café and roastery that celebrates ethically sourced and produced coffee, and in 2021, it launched its an in-house kitchen producing a variety of shareables, entrees, breads, pastries, and more.

 

CyclePottery

CyclePottery

CyclePottery

42 Maple St., Florence

(413) 333-8893; www.cyclepottery.com

CyclePottery studio offers classes, lessons, and workshops for beginners to advanced potters; birthday parties, special occasions, and private workshops are also available. Extra-needs-friendly classes are available as well. The facility boasts five Brent wheels, a production-size Skutt kiln, a smaller L&L kiln, a North Star slab roller, two large hand-building tables, two large glazing tables, lots of light, and two porches. Gift cards are available online and in-store.

 

Echo Hill Orchards & Winery

Echo Hill Orchards & Winery

Echo Hill Orchards & Winery

101 Wilbraham Road, Monson

(413) 267-3303;
www.echohillorchards.com

Echo Hills is a family-owned and operated pick-your-own orchard that grows apples, peaches, pears, pumpkins, sunflowers, and wildflowers in season. It makes wine, moonshine, spirits, and liquors out of fruits that are grown on the farm, using apples as the base. The winery and distillery offers tastings, also including a variety of seasonal drinks made in-house. Because outside food and drinks aren’t allowed, food-truck vendors are on site to help soak up the alcohol.

 

Elements Hot Tub Spa

373 Main St., Amherst

(413) 256-8827;
www.elementshottubspa.com

Elements Hot Tub Spa offers an array of spa packages and services, including but not limited to massages, skincare, facials, waxing, body treatments, spiritual wellness, and enhancements. There are also a handful of hot-tub and sauna rooms for visitors, both indoors and outdoors. Gift cards are available online and in-store.

 

Elements Massage

379 Russell St., Hadley

(413) 301-0625;
www.elementsmassage.com/hadley

Elements Massage (not associated with Elements Hot Tubs Spa) offers an array of massages and packages, including but not limited to deep tissue, Swedish, sports, trigger point, stretch, and couples massages. Gift cards are available online and in store.

 

Enjoy Boutique

4 Deerfield Ave., Shelburne Falls

(413) 687-0827; www.storeenjoy.com

Enjoy Boutique is a boutique clothing, accessory, and gift shop, specializing in ethically and sustainably made goods; it sells brands like Cut Loose, Free People, Origin, Magnolia Pearl, and more. Adjacent to Shelburne Falls’ famed Glacial Potholes and just a few blocks from the gorgeous Bridge of Flowers, the boutique includes fair-trade items, organically grown textiles, eco-conscious wares, and one-of-a-kind artisan goods.

 

Feel Good Shop Local

(413) 252-5400;
www.feelgoodshoplocal.com

Fueled by the COVID-19 crisis, Feel Good Shop Local was founded in 2020 to ensure local small businesses would not be left out of the online shopping and discovery experience. The website has different options for how to shop: by occasion, price, recipient, interests, values, and what’s popular. The array of local shops feature clothing, jewelry, blankets, candles, accessories, skincare, and much more — and local retailers are being added all the time.

 

Flora! the Shop

61 Bridge St., Shelburne Falls

(413) 695-7379;
www.floratheshop.com

Flora! the Shop is a gift shop offering a wide variety of items: art, photography, and canvas prints from featured artists and artisans from Boston to Brooklyn to Burbank, as well as jewelry, face masks, lip balms and butters, calendars, chocolate, coffee and tea, candles, blankets, incense, planters, ornaments, pet bowls, pet placemats, gifts for holidays and special occasions, coloring books, puzzles, notebooks, stickers, and more.

 

Fun Hub Action Park

367 Russell St., Hadley

(413) 438-6482;
www.funhubactionpark.com

Fun Hub Action Park is a family-friendly arcade and play facility for ages 3 and up. Different admissions packages allow access to the various attractions offered, including climbing walls, a virtual-reality arena, bumper cars, a ninja course, trampolines, balance beams, ziplining, a multi-level playground, and much more. The facility hosts birthday parties, group events, and fundraisers. Tickets, packages, and gift cards may be purchased online or in stores.

 

Glendale Ridge Vineyard

155 Glendale Road, Southampton

(413) 527-0164;
www.glendaleridgevineyard.com

Glendale Ridge Vineyard estate wines are grown, produced, and bottled in Southampton. The business produces unique wines using grapes carefully sourced from the best vineyards on Long Island and in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Wines, select pantry goods, and merchandise are sold in store and online, and white, red, rose, dessert, and sparkling wines are available. The vineyard offers gift-box options with local ingredients. The grounds overlook Mount Tom and the Seven Sisters range, and the building features indoor seating and space for private events.

 

The Grati Shop

The Grati Shop

The Grati Shop

2440 Boston Road, Wilbraham

(413) 279-1546; www.thegratishop.com

The Grati Shop is a comfortable fashion boutique that focuses on doing good and giving back. The store offers a selection of sweaters, pants, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and a cruelty-free beauty line. Owner Kelly Partridge holds regular events and fundraisers to support small businesses and give back to the local community.

 

Hallie’s Comet Fine Jewelry

www.halliescomet.com

Christina O’Keefe, owner and craftsman of Hallie’s Comet Fine Jewelry, uses semi-precious gemstones and metals from gem shows and showrooms from across the country to make a variety of fine jewelry pieces, such as necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. Bridal and custom pieces are available upon request.

 

High Five Books

High Five Books

High Five Books

141 North Main St., Florence

(413) 200-0197;
www.highfivebooks.org

High Five Books is an independent kids’ community bookstore in downtown Florence — a local go-to for graphic novels, middle-grade readers, and picture books, plus art kits and other creative supplies. High Five Books offers storytimes, book and art events, author and illustrator experiences, and other family-based community programs around literacy and creativity. It shares a space with Art Always, an art school for children and adults.

 

Jackalope Restaurant

254 Worthington St., Springfield

(413) 233-4422;
www.eatjackalope.com

Jackalope Restaurant is part of downtown Springfield’s growing entertainment district. It offers a variety of foods, including seafood, beef, and poultry. The restaurant also offers an extensive drinks menu, including but not limited to red and white wines, bourbon and whiskey, cocktails, beers, and hard ciders. Reservations can be made online.

 

Kestrel

22 Masonic St., Northampton

(413) 341-3115; www.kestrelshop.com

Kestrel was born from a passion to merge the love of nature with the beauty of handmade craft and design. It carefully seeks out local and national artisans who make, create, and handcraft beautiful wares, furniture, and jewelry and nurtures a minimalist modern and vintage aesthetic with an emphasis on horticulture. Amongst the fine jewelery, visitors are able to browse plant pots, blankets, candles, ceramics, paper goods, and much more. Gift cards are available online and in store.

 

The Mill District

91 Cowls Road, Amherst

(413) 836-1765;
www.themilldistrictna.com

Built on the 275-year history of Amherst’s agro-industrial past, the Mill District boasts locally owned stores, events, and apartments that are intentionally designed to be a place to reconnect in the internet age. This mixed-use development is home to Graze Craze, Balanced Birch, the Closet, Provisions, Cowls Building Supply, Big Basket Market, the Mill District General Store, and the Mill District Local Art Gallery. Events are held throughout the month that often include pop-ups for other local artisans and business owners.

 

Monsoon Roastery & Espresso Bar

250 Albany St., Springfield

(413) 366-1123;
www.monsoonroastery.com

Monsoon Roastery & Espresso Bar is an environmentally conscious, community coffee roaster and hallway espresso bar serving serve lattes, cold brews, and cans of beans. Through the week, it brings in locally baked pastries from Nosh Bakery, Granny’s Baking Table, Comfort Bagel, and Wicked Whisk Creations. Monsoon offers an array of coffee-bean blends. Coffee subscriptions and Monsoon Roastery & Espresso Bar gift certificates are available for purchase.

 

Nosh Restaurant & Café

1341 Main St., Springfield

(413) 391-7948;
www.noshspringfield.com

Nosh Restaurant & Café is a vegan-friendly sandwich shop at the Shops at Marketplace. Other options include breakfast, salads, burgers, soups, sweet potato bowls, and desserts. All breads are house-made (and may vary daily), including a new gluten-free bread option. Nosh offers weekly specials, soups, and sweets based on seasonal foods. Catering and gift cards are available. The owners work directly with local purveyors such as Bardwell Farms in Hatfield, Corsello Butcheria in Easthampton, Monsoon Roastery in Springfield, Mama Life Oils in Wilbraham, and Top o’Hill Maple in Blandford.

 

Plum Boutique

281 Main St., Greenfield

(413) 475-3518; www.plum413.com

Plum Boutique seeks out the best in global design from women-owned enterprises and local artisans, then offers items to visitors as a curated experience. Plum prioritizes strategic partnerships with mission-based organizations and local businesses in an effort to galvanize and enrich the community. The boutique offers clothing, jewelry, shoes, accessories, bath and body items, crafts, journals, and more. Gift cards are available.

 

p.m. reed Carry Goods

p.m. reed Carry Goods

p.m. reed Carry Goods

www.pmreedcarrygoods.com

Peter Reed, owner and craftsman of p.m. reed Carry Goods, designs and builds totes, messenger bags, aprons, and accessories for function and durability. Using “the best-quality waxed canvas and leather available,” each item is made to order, Reed notes. “They’re a workhorse for carryin’ your books, laptop, tablet, camera gear, knitting, groceries, spirits, or whatever you might be transportin’.”

 

Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa

56 Southwick Road, Westfield

(413)568-9000; www.pufferdayspa.com

Puffer’s Salon & Day Spa offers an array of services, ranging from haircuts and colors to massages and skin esthetics. Packages are available as well, including but not limited to a Spa Energizer package, a Day of Relaxation package, a New Mom package, and more; clients may also customize their own package, which can include hair care, a massage, makeup applications, manicures and pedicures, and more. Gift certificates are available online and in-store.

 

Ten Thousand Villages

82 Main St., Northampton

(413) 582-9338;
www.tenthousandvillages.com/northampton

Ten Thousand Villages is a fair-trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories, and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries, the shop has spent more than 60 years cultivating trading relationships by which artisans receive a fair price for their work and consumers have access to distinctive handcrafted items. It seeks to establish long-term buying relationships in places where skilled artisans lack opportunities for income.

 

Thornes Marketplace

150 Main St., Northampton

(413) 584-5582;
www.thornesmarketplace.com

This historic commercial building in downtown Northampton is home to an array of independent, locally owned retailers and restaurants — some of which have thrived in Thornes for more than 40 years. There are an array of shops and restaurants to choose from: Booklink Bestsellers and Café, Captain Candy, Cedar Chest and Cedar Chest Fashion, Glimpse of Tibet, Backstop Seated Chair Massage, Yoga Sanctuary, and more. Gift cards and certificates are available in stores and on the various businesses’ websites.

 

White Lion Brewing Co.

White Lion Brewing Co.

White Lion Brewing Co.

1500 Main St., Springfield

(413) 455-0820; www.whitelionbrewing.com

White Lion Brewing Co. is a local taproom in the Springfield entertainment district. With a variety of IPAs, ales, stouts, sours, and more, White Lion also partners with Springfield native Andrew Brow — owner of Highbrow Wood Fired Kitchen + Bar in Northampton — to provide a full menu to taproom guests. Catering is available through the Wild Dandelion Mobile Beverage Catering app, offering a 20-foot mobile beverage trailer. Gift cards are available for purchase in store or online.

 

Kailey Houle can be reached at [email protected]

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