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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Black Friday Delivers To Northern Berkshire Downtowns

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, November 25, 2006

Amy Moulton showed off some of the items at Moulton's General Store on Main Street in North Adams.
There was a cautious sense of holiday optimism among Northern Berkshire downtown shopkeepers as "Black Friday" unfolded and shoppers ventured into their stores.

Off To A Good $tart

Moulton's General Store owner Cathy Moulton reported that business at the Main Street, North Adams shop was brisk during the morning and she expected sales to increase during the afternoon.

"We've been pretty steady, which is good," she said. "We've sold quite a few gift items and the fudge, we've sold fudge."


This lollygag "Santa" is among the handcrafted items at Crafty Creations in North Adams.
New inventory will be arriving regularly throughout the holiday season, she said.

"We'll have new things until the last minute," she said.

At the North Adams-based Fashion Bug women's and girls clothing boutique, there were a few customers who greeted Michelle Staci when she opened the doors at 7 a.m..

"There were people waiting to come in and by 7:30, we had more," Staci said. "I was surprised."

"We had a good 'early bird,'" said store Manager Lida Watters. "We did well last year and we hope to do as well, if not better, this year."

New Venues Welcome In North Adams

Watters credited the Peebles, Olympia, and Staples store openings for boosting downtown business.

"I'm thinking that the new things going in will draw more people," she said. "I know that we've sent people to Peebles for specific things and I'm hoping they are doing the same for us. I think the stores are complementing each other. I think that when the theater goes in, and hopefully, a restaurant, it will be filled in and very attractive."

The Peebles parking area was filled to near capacity during the late morning and people were seen entering and exiting the three newest downtown shopping venues.

Sandy Pansecchi showed off an assortment of jingle-bell ornaments at the Cards, Gifts, and Gadgets store on Park Street in Adams.


Holiday Shopping In Adams

Earlier in the morning, Colonial Country Shoppe owner Jim Wol was assisting shoppers at the 3 Park St. store.

The shop hosts a large selection of Yankee Candle Co. candles and accessories, including holiday candle scents such as "Christmas Eve." Store shelves displayed numerous unique candleholders, "Pin Art" and "Silver Forest" jewelry, items from the Dept. 56 Heritage Village collection, seasonal flags, 2007 linen calendars, and an abundance of additional items.

"The local stores are usually owned by local people, people who pay taxes and live in the community," Wol said. "We help support the community."

The store will offer Sunday hours of noon to 4 p.m. beginning Nov. 26, Wol said.

Cards, Gifts, and Gadgets at 35 Park St. is the town's lone "Willow Tree" hand-carved figure retailer, said store owner Sandy Pansecchi. The graceful carvings are popular and are deliberately crafted without facial details, she said.

"You are supposed to 'see' the person you are giving the figure to," Pansecchi explained.

McClellands gift store in North Adams is the city's "Willow Tree" vendor, Pansecchi said.

The store offers a large selection of 99-cent holiday, birthday and other greeting cards as well as a selection of wrapping paper. There is a display of specialty cards made by Blue Mountain Arts, including the company's "Children of the Inner Light" line. Red "jingle bell" ornaments are offered with pre-printed names or as blank ornaments.

Pansecchi said that she fulfilled a dream when she opened the store.

"I'd always wanted to own a business on Park Street," she said. "I remember when you didn't have to leave Park Street for anything but shoes."


Persnickety store owner Monique Suters shared affection with stuffed penguins at the Eagle Street, North Adams store.
The store opens at 10 a.m. Mon-Sat., and is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The store closes at 8 p.m. on Thurs., she said.

The Mysterious Wonders store at 43 Park St., plans to offer Sunday hours of 10 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning Dec. 3, said store owner Cathy Alves. Alves said she is hosting two specials. Shoppers who spend at least $25 will be automatically entered in a drawing to win a "dreamcatcher" and those who spend $50 may make arrangements to receive a massage from a massage therapist who is affiliated with Alves, she said.

The store does not accept personal checks.

A Collection Of Shops At Eagle And Main

At Galadriels boutique on North Adams' Main Street, business was steady, said owner Joanne Burdick.

"I think people are on their way back from the big chain stores and are coming in," she said.

Burdick's inventory includes colorful, feathery boas, matching scarf and glove sets, women's jackets, pants, skirts, tops, and dresses, and unique hair accessories.

The store opens at 10 a.m. Mon.-Sat., and closes at 5 p.m. except Thurs., when the store welcomes shoppers until 7 p.m.. Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m..

At the Persnickety toy and gift store on Eagle Street, business was very good, said store owner Monique Suters. Suters said she arrives at the store during the pre-dawn hours to unpack boxes and when she opened at 10 a.m., she found folks waiting at the door.

"There were people outside waiting this year," she said. "I came in at about 5 and unpacked about 30 boxes and I have about 30 more to unpack. And there's more coming. We have more stock than ever before and more customers than ever."

Toy trucks are very popular this year, she said.

"The trucks are already flying off the shelves," she noted.

The store offers a variety of "Kid Kit" activity sets, stuffed animals including penguins, alligators, whales, dogs, cats, and more, Melissa and Doug brand puzzles, games, and other activity ensembles, Thomas the Train items and accessories, "Wedgits" building sets, Lego brand sets, and dress-up outfits including policeman, fireman, doctor,pirate, knight, and king garb. There is a full line of dolls and doll accessories.

Light up a life with a gift of one of these clever lamps available at Village Kountry Krafts, Colonial Shopping Plaza, Williamstown.


"Cherry Ames" And "Donna Parker"

At the Skiddoo vintage store on Eagle Street, owner Paige Carter was busy assisting shoppers during the early afternoon.

"It's great," she said. "People are out and it's nice to see people shopping on the street."

Carter's shop is a mix of items from the 1950s to the 1970s, and includes vintage kitchenware, cookie-cutters, clothing, jewelry,lamps, clocks, and an assortment of books including a "Cherry Ames" series hardcover edition and several books from the popular "Donna Parker" series.

Several vintage lunch boxes were displayed and Carter said that the former schoolyard staples are purchased and used as gift boxes.

"People buy them and fill them up with smaller items," she said. "It makes a nice gift for people who remember those days."

Carter said she believes people are interested in downtown shopping.
"I'm hoping for a good season," she said. "i don't think people have forgotten the downtown."

Carter plans to open the store Tues.-Sat. noon to 6 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. on Sun. and Mon., she said.

Xen

The Xen store, 40 Eagle St., opened about a week ago and many people have visited the shop, said business owner Randi Ehrhart.

"People seem to like it," she said of the store, which offers a mix of clothing and vintage items such as carnival glass.

Ehrhart and her husband have purchased a condominium at the street's Flat Iron complex and plan to "follow the traffic of the street" with their business hours, Ehrhart said.

"I think we'll open at 11 [a.m.]," she said. "We can open earlier if we need to, we live right here so it's not a problem."

Stained glass shops operate on Park Street in Adams and Main Street in North Adams; the Soul's Journey Art Gallery and Stained Glass Studio is at 23 Park St. and Suncatchers is located very near to the Gallery 51 art gallery at 51 Main St.. Sports Corner on Main Street in North Adams offers a large selection of sports and atheletic items, including snowboards, snowshoes, mountain bicycles, and footwear.

City Success Story

Crafty Creations Main Street location has proven very successful, said business partner Kathy West. The large space hosts the work of 90 crafters, West said.

The business is celebrating it's second year and the partners' enthusiasm level remains high, West said.

"We still love it," she said. "The talent is terrific and the move to Main Street allowed us to show our crafters in such a good light."

The business is being counted as a city success story. Inside the store are hundreds of handcrafted items including hats, scarves, jewelry, painted glassware, holiday ornaments and accessories, candles, quilts, and a selection of hand-crocheted infant christening gowns.

The store also hosts a selection of doll clothes, ceramic serving dishes, and more.

Crafty Creations will add Sunday hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December.

Remembering To Give

Village Kountry Krafts shop owner Vincent Zoito said business at the Colonial Shopping Plaza, Williamstown, venue was "great" on Nov. 22 and Nov. 24.

"I was surprised," he said."Wednesday was one of our best days and today has been equally as good."

Zoito's shop hosts 27 crafters, including a woman who designs and sews fleece outfits for infants, toddlers, and young children. Zoito is a woodworker and his items are among the shop inventory.

Hand-made hunting bows and etched glass items are included in the offerings as are home accessories, small lamps, blankets, and holiday ornaments.

The shop has assembled a gift basket of handcrafted items that may be seen at the store. Zoito is selling basket raffle tickets with proceeds destined for the Williamstown Food Pantry. Tickets are 1 for $1 and six for $5, with the drawing set for Dec. 21 at about 1 p.m., Zoito said.

Williamstown's downtown shopping choices include Spring Street's Zanna clothing store, Goodman's jewelry store, Goff's Sports, and Library Antiques, and Water Street's Amy's Cottage, the Browns clothing store, and Water Street Books bookstore.

"You Have To Have What People Want"

Michele Gietz, owner of the "Where'd You Get That?!" store on Spring Street, said she was delighted with the day's hectic pace and is looking forward to the holiday season.

"Everything went extremely well," she said. "We've been busy since 9 a.m.."

The store sells a wide assortment of children's games, books, art kits, Klutz brand craft and activity kits, magic sets, stuffed animals, dolls, Melissa and Doug brand items, novelty items for adults and a large selection of games meant for older youths and adults.

The games are very popular, Gietz said.

"We are selling a lot of games," she said. "There are a lot of serious gamesmen out there,"

"That's one of the most important things for business - you have to have what people want."

A multi-photograph slideshow of items offered by many Northern Berkshire merchants will be posted at www.iberkshires.com early next week.

Susan Bush may be reached via-email at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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