Old Fashioned Charm

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:18

    Newton - Shopping on Spring Street in Newton is a distinctive shoppers' outing anytime of the year, however for the holidays, Spring Street offers an even more unique experience. Dressed in the colors of the season, Spring Street takes on an aura of Christmas of Yesteryear complete with old-fashioned holiday decorations, cozy stores, community events and personal greetings by the area's shopkeepers. And yes, there are some incredible deals too. It's a toss up if the festive atmosphere of brick walkways and detailed architecture adorned with white Christmas lights and green garland is what attracts holiday shoppers or if it is the reasonable pricing and superior customer service shoppers encounter in these personal, intimate shops.  The area's stores offer a distinctive and eclectic array of specialty items, gifts, furniture, clothing, repair shops, and dining. "These stores are fabulous with unique and beautiful things you can't find anywhere else, especially at the big warehouse stores. If you do find the items elsewhere, you will not find them at the kind of prices found on Spring Street," said Rae Frediani, Director of Newton Chamber of Commerce. "When I want to buy something special, either as a gift or for my home, I come here. This is where I'd find something to put on my mantel or in my living room at a very affordable price." There's an easygoing air to the shopping area that really welcomes people with some fine dining for when the shopping lists have been completed. Some compare the shopping in Newton to that of other "trendy" towns such as Chester.  "I'm so glad Newton's getting Chesterized!" said a shopper of Eaton's Antiques & Collectibles last week. Eaton's, which was originally an Internet based retailer, now is headquartered on Spring Street. The store purchases entire contents of homes whose owners are in need to unload quality furnishings and items due to divorce, death or downsizing. The store still maintains an address on the Electronic Highway (www.eatonsservice.com) but now it also welcomes customers in person. Another store that offers a complete array of services and products is Tracy Gibbins Interior Design. The firm offers not only an interior design service to both commercial and residential clients, but it is also a retail store. The beautiful items that decorate the charming store are also for sale.  The exterior of the store itself provides a reason to enter. The store front has large 8-foot windows with thick, detailed, oak trim. The interior has dark, wood floors with oriental rugs. The white, tin ceiling, Victorian moldings and old brick walls are rare and stunning architectural features of this shop. However, it isn't only the ambiance of the store itself that draws customers in, it's the incredible array of home decor offered.  The warm colors and art of display have been mastered to give shoppers the intimacy of their own living room.   "My daughter and I opened this shop because we didn't want to keep going to Short Hills Mall to shop and we thought customers may feel the same," said Joyce Gibbins who co-owns this home decor shop. "This town has a small town feel that is becoming harder and harder to find.   Here, you can find everything you need for your home at reasonable prices." But convenience and the prices are only part of what attracts shoppers to Newton. Susan Herman, who last week was doing some of her holiday shopping at Tracy Gibbins Interior Design, said she prefers the ambiance of the local shops.  "My family has grown and we no longer need the basics such as slippers or a robe. I now look for interesting and different things to give as a special gift for my family. Besides, I like the feel of shopping on Spring Street. I love to chat with the store owners and see what's new in town," said Herman. "Spring Street has come a long way over the last few years. There are a lot of nice shops here now." A little further down the road, is Charles Custom Frame and Art Shop which has been in  business on Spring Street for over 30 years supplying its customers with fine art supplies and custom framing service. "You have a strong home town feel when walking down Spring Street. The owners know their products and are willing to give their time to the customers to help them. Here, you will find an individual personal shopping experience with a nice variety," said  Joan Current, the store owner. "The best part is you can special order things and pick them up at your leisure so there's no hassle of waiting in lines for 15 minutes or fighting the crowds. And just because there are no lines, doesn't mean we aren't doing a good business. You can't compare a well established specialty shop to a big box corporation.  You go to a specialty shop for specific things. Some of the specialty items sold in Abigails and Flowers in the Attic for example, are only sold in their store."   Across the street there is an old fashioned habberdashery. The tutor style building houses fine clothing and gifts for men. The Style Shop has been in the same location since 1959. Joe Tolerico, who founded the shop and now has handed the store's day-today operations down to his children, says most men are looking for a good fit, personalized service at reasonable prices.  "You will get your money's worth out of the quality products we provide. We sell shirts that are not sold in discount or department stores, names that have been around for years and years," said Tolerico, adding that finding comparable service elsewhere would provide the shopper with a great challenge. "We help people put outfits together based on their personal taste. If you're buying a gift for someone, we can help with sizing based on their height and weight." Shoppers find that Spring Street is at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays, an exceptional experience. The area provides an opportunity to stroll in and out of welcoming shops, grab a bite to eat or dine in style at one of the many restaurants available and get errands done all in the same immediate area.  Parking, free during the holiday season, is widely available usually within a few steps from a store's front door. All that while being surrounded by the hospitality of the shop owners and the sights, smells and sounds of an old fashioned holiday season. "The Christmas decorations, the white lights, American flags all add to the warm, inviting, slower pace experience," said Herman. "I get reminiscent of my childhood when I'm here; when life was easier, simpler, slower. Spring Street brings back the secure, old town feel and creates a comfort zone for me. Shopping here is like mental therapy. It's slow, relaxed and just has a good feel to it.