Main Street Brings Back Mystery Shopper
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Shoppers in the downtown should be on the lookout for a mystery man or woman this Thursday browsing local stores. If you guess right, you'll win a $25 gift certificate.
The "Mystery Shopper" contest was resurrected as part of Hometown Holidays, an initiative of the city, Develop North Adams and downtown merchants to encourage people to shop locally. A kids' trivia contest is also being run through Dec. 24.
The Mystery Shopper was a popular North Adams holiday event decades ago. Does anyone remember it?
Downtown patrons will have the chance to track down a mystery shopper on the next four Thursday evenings before Christmas. Two Mystery Shoppers will be browsing stores, restaurants and galleries along Main, Eagle, Ashland, Holden and Marshall streets. Look for clues as to who and where the mystery shoppers will be on each Thursday in the text ads on iBerkshires; there'll also be clues in the local paper.
To make shopping easier, the city has revived the old tradition of free short-term parking along the streets (but not the long-term parking in the municipal lots). The limit is two hours and includes Main, Eagle, Ashland and Marshall streets and American Legion Drive through the end of Christmas weekend, Sunday, Dec. 26.
If you spot a Mystery Shopper all you need to do is ask them "Are you the Mystery Shopper?" based on the clue given for that evening. If you are the first to ask them you win a $25 gift certificate to a favorite downtown business.
One Mystery Shopper will be out between 6 and 7 p.m. and the other from 7 to 8. You have to figure out which one at which time. One prize will be awarded for each identified Mystery Shopper.
We'll give you clues for this Thursday, Dec. 2; look for the next set in the text ads circulating through iBerkshires.
Clue for Shopper 1: My purfect pet feels the beat of my heart.
Clue for Shopper 2: Plowing tops my mind when I go shopping.
For more information, contact Keith Bona, DNA Merchant Committee, at 413-664-6388 or at www.ShopNorthAdamsMA.com.
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North Adams Tree Lighting Kicks Off Shopping Events
The city gets a jump-start on the county's holiday season by lighting Main Street's two Christmas trees on Thanksgiving Eve.
Mayor Richard Alcombright will take his first turn at flipping the switch to light up the downtown on Wedneday, Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m. at Monument Square.
The celebration includes, of course, the Drury High School band directed by Chris Caproni, the arrival of Santa Claus on the historic North Adams Trolley bearing gifts of coloring books, crayons, candy canes and scavenger hunt maps of downtown businesses. Goodie bags will be handed out to the first 500 children.
Afterward, the band will go caroling along the downtown, kicking off the monthlong "North Adams Hometown Holidays" event, an initiative of the North Adams downtown merchants and Develop North Adams to showcase the shopping and services available in the city — and to encourage residents to buy local.
The evening will include a treasure hunt within participating businesses for the kids, drawings and music, plus a marshmallow roast, hot cocoa and treats and an appearance by "Jolly the Reindeer."
Window displays are already going up throughout the downtown (the best will get an award later in the month) and plans are to stay open on the traditional Thursday nights (Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23) when downtown patrons can search for the "mystery shopper" to win a prize. Look for clues to the shopper's identity on iBerkshires (we'll let you know when they post).
On Dec. 2, city galleries will open their doors for "DownStreet Art on Ice," featuring the 99-cent-and-up art sale at MCLA Gallery 51 (get there early because the bargains go fast) and other related activities.
Keep abreast of what's happening at ShopNorthAdams.com.
Specials and sponsorships for Hometown Holiday events are offered by Shima, the Party Place, Desperados, Bark 'N' Cat, Creations, Elf Parlor, Persnickety Toys, Christo's Famous Pizza, Jack's Hot Dogs, K-M Motors, Mia's Consignment, Martha Flood Design, Gallery 51, Empire Antiques, Papyri Books, Edward Jones and Dilego's Jewelry Store. Tranquil Moments Day Spa, Petrino's Cafe, Holiday Inn and Richmond Grille, Physical Therapy of North Adams, I Got Goodies, Dion Money Management and Supreme Pizza and Wings also offer specials and/or sponsorship.
Other sponsors include Develop North Adams, the city of North Adams, the North Adams Transcript, and Donovan and O'Connor, Attorneys at Law. The North Adams Office of Tourism is grateful to Landmark Credit Union, Cascade School Supplies, Big Y Supermarket and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts for their help in staging the tree lighting.
For more information about the tree lighting or any city event, contact the North Adams Office of Tourism at 413-664-6180.
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Dollar Tree Store Opens in City
The Dollar Tree opened its newest location in downtown North Adams on Saturday. The store takes up space in the L-Shaped Mall that was occupied by Movie Gallery and a smaller store next door. The Dollar Store chain is 57 years old and operates some 3,500 stores across the nation including in the Bennington (Vt.) Plaza and the Pittsfield Shopping Center. Mayor Richard Alcombright was on hand to cut the ribbon early Saturday morning.
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North Adams Panel Takes Up Vendor Rules
David Lewis said limiting the number of vendor licenses was valid. 'We don't want to put anyone out of business.'
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The General Government Committee's looking to update the city's peddling ordinance but will first have to answer a few questions.
The matter was passed to the City Council subcommittee earlier this summer after a hot dog cart sparked complaints from some local businesses and after a boost in vendor applications for the Solid Sound Festival. The panel members Chairwoman Gailanne Cariddi, Lisa Blackmer and Keith Bona met Monday in the City Council chambers with Health Inspector Manuel Serrano.
Mayor Richard Alcombright, while supporting the vendors efforts and enthusiasm, was concerned that the definitions of hawkers and peddlers as outlined in the city's current ordinance were not clear and forwarded to the committee a bylaw adopted by Adams earlier this year.
"I think one of the main concerns or issues is public safety," said Serrano. "Street vendors whether they're selling food or products, it has to be safe to do so."
Serrano said any food vendors have to be licensed by the Board of Health and have SafeSERV certification; others need a license, including anyone who has more than three tag sales a year at the same address. Those with state licenses still need to register with the police.
"For instance, the [Fall Foliage Festival] Parade, all hawkers, peddlers have to register," he said. "We'll issue them badges so the public knows they're registered with us."
Blackmer said there was a concern of vendors operating outside established venues. "You don't want to hurt existing business but you don't want to discourage entrepreneurship," she said, adding that the more happening in the downtown the better. "But you have to make sure there's enough of the pie."
Vendors should perhaps get permission from other competing businesses, said Bona, before setting up in the downtown.
Serrano said it was up to the city to decide whether it wanted to limit the number of vendor licenses or where such vendors could operate.
Committee members listen as Health Inspector Manuel Serrano explains how the city licenses different vendors.
The exception, all agreed, was in the case of special events during which food and other vendors would be encouraged to set up. Serrano questioned whether that would include SteepleCat games or youth activities, and how broadly such a policy would be written.
David Lewis, who operates the hot dog cart Guys and Dogs on Saturdays with Vincent Melito, objected to the panel members desire to safeguard businesses.
"When I was in my several businesses, I wish that someone would have regulated my competition," he said, adding that he and Melito had gone out of their way not to intrude on other eateries. "We did it for foot traffic. ... We thought it would be a nice segue from Mass MoCA to the Hub."
Jennifer Barbeau, who's organizing Saturday's annual Fall Foliage Arts & Crafts Fair, also stressed that not having a storefront doesn't mean the operator isn't contributing to the city. Barbeau, who operates two businesses out of her home, also wanted the panel to keep in mind that crafters aren't necessarily in the same league as reguler vendors.
Bona agreed, saying that many are more hobbyists than businesspeople.
Cariddi said the panel would take into consideration the comments from those in attendance, which also included Gail and Phil Sellers, Councilors Ronald Boucher and Marie Harpin, Rhea Lewis and tourism director Rod Bunt.
The panel members will consider definitions for vendors and special events, and consider a range of vendor limits. The next meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 5:30 in the council chambers.
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Maya Is Moving, Moving, Moving
Rockwell and Maya III last year.
Downtown celebrants may notice the absence of Maya III. The Jarvis Rockwell creation has been a major draw on Main Street since its creation two years ago as part of Downstreet Art.
Not worry. Jonathan Secor tells that the ever-changing piece with its hundreds of action figures is having a "respite" for a few months until a new home is fixed for it at 49 Main St. later this fall.
The relocation is the result of some movement of businesses along the main drag. Maya's location at 73 Main St. is being taken over by Janice Esoldi and the expansion of her chocolate empire. I've Got Goodies, which opened in the former Moulton's General Store, moved into 85 Main St. last year. Business has been good, Esoldi told us a couple weeks ago, and her shop needs more room.
Esoldi informed the Planning Board of her relocation at the last meeting and her plan is to have the new shop operating before the holidays arrive.
Meanwhile, the former Newberry's that was left vacant when Moulton's moved to Adams will have a new occupant with Shear Madness. Owner Kim Oakes said the salon needs more room and wants to stay on Main Street. She wasn't sure when the move would happen because of the work that needs to be done in the building. We have't seen anybody working in there yet so it could be awhile.
It isn't be the best time for Maya to move. Downstreet Art's "Last Thursday" gallery opening is tomorrow and the summerlong event doesn't end until Open Studios in October. The large installation is one of the most popular on the street, drawing hundreds of visitors on a weekend, said Secor.
It should be back up by the holidays but it has to wait for the Gallerie Haiti to complete its run in the space next to Gallery 51. The lack of space is a bit ironic, noted Secor. Art's been used to fill up the empty storefronts — which are now so full there's no place open for Maya.
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