Archive for January, 2010

Hilliards House of Candy, Easton, Mass., Has a Lot of Heart When it Comes to Valentine’s Day

Sunday, January 31st, 2010
Hilliard;s photo from 2009 by Eric H.

Hilliard's photo from 2009 by Eric H.

Article by Eric H., Hilliards House of Candy in Easton, Mass., has a lot of heart when it comes to Valentine’s Day gift selections.

A family-run business for more than 80 years, Hilliard’s sweet mission thrives year-round with what we feel is the best in chocolates and other truly delicious homemade confections (and a seasonal ice cream parlor), but the Valentine’s Day season truly annually shines in its charming Victorian home presence. The layout of hand-crafted truffles, turtles, toffee, various other chocolates and gift baskets and a red-colored theme throughout the store make this a Valentine’s Days delight. What’s most satisfying, however, is that a locally-owned business like Hilliards can become a household name in the Bristol County area in an age of big box store domination. The presence of Hilliards House of Candy doing so well is enough to make one fall in love with shopping local!

Hilliards House of Candies 316 Main St. (Rte. 138) North Easton, MA 508-238-6231 ~ 1-800-286-853

Editor’s note: if you don’t live in the Easton area, you can also order online at the Hilliard’s Web Site. We recommend calling Hilliard’s before traveling there to find out more about Valentine’s Day gift selections and store layout, as above article is based on past years’ experiences.

Bailey’s and Burke in East Burke, Vt.: Classic Country Store Shopping

Sunday, January 31st, 2010


Article and photo by Eric H.,

Bailey’s & Burke Country Store in East Burke, Vt., epitomizes the essence of an authentic, classic New England country store.

Located in the rural back roads of Northeast Kingdom Vermont, Bailey’s & Burke features everything you could ever want from a country store, including fresh baked breads and pastries, Vermont specialty foods, homemade pizza, deli sandwiches, homemade fudge, bulk candies, a wine cellar, casual clothing, Vermont crafts, baskets, country linens, kitchen treasures, pottery and Christmas inspirations. Built in 1897, this creaky two-story country store offers a maze of rooms with worn, uneven hardwood floors and a laid-back, old-fashioned Vermont feel that has served as a timeless retail relic that remains quite popular today.  One could call Bailey’s & Burke a museum piece of country store retail shopping with all the merchandise and ambiance to make one proud to say, “Shop Local, Buy Local New England!”

Bailey’s & Burke
466 Route 114
East Burke, VT 05832
Tel. (802) 626-9250

The Great Half-Pound Jumbo Cupcake

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010


Article and photo by Eric H.,
Nancy’s Fancies Cakes, located in the Italian Federal Hill section of Providence, R.I., offers amazing, made-from-scratch “elegant, custom designed fancy cakes,” with a clear knack for mastering the art and science of cake making.

While this bakery is famous for cakes, the “Cupcake Cafe” section deserves equal mention for those who love this ever-increasingly traditional, sweet delicacy. Especially impressive are the jumbo half-pound cupcakes, bursting with fresh out-of-the-oven flavor. We recently sampled a red velvet jumbo cupcake, rich in light chocolate flavor and sweet cream, and bearing no relation to the store-bought cupcakes. Other flavors include Oreo, S’more, Wedding Cake, Boston Cream, Chocolate Sundae (no ice cream, just the flavor) and Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Nancy’s Fancies Cake is just yet another example of a locally-owned store that prides itself of representing the best of its genre — not only in its delicious cupcakes (and cakes) but also as a classic neighborhood bakery with personal, friendly service. The experience was quite “full filling!”

Nancy’s Fancies Cakes
294 Atwells Ave.
Providence, RI
401-421-CAKE (2253)

The Amazing, No-Frills New England Book Mobile Fair, Newton, Mass.

Thursday, January 21st, 2010
The New England Book Mobile Fair, Newton, Mass. (photo by Eric H.)

The New England Book Mobile Fair, Newton, Mass. (photo by Eric H.)

Article and Photo by Eric H.,

We love Barnes and Noble and Borders, but the primary chapter in our lifelong travel for the best book store in New England is the New England Book Mobile Fair in the Boston suburb of Newton, MA.

The 32,000 sq. ft. oversized warehouse features a seemingly unending supply of books for every age and interest, and with discounts starting at 20 percent. It’s essentially the same store we enjoyed as children in the 1960s and 1970s, with its labyrinth of new and used books (including the latest best-sellers) often stacked to the ceiling in narrow rows.

Growing up in nearby Arlington, our Mom and Dad frequently visited this book lover’s paradise and would spend hours there. We didn’t mind, unlike our objections to shopping the same length of time at Marshall’s, or the out-of-business Carter’s (Needham) or Bargain Basement (Lexington) clothing stores. Owner Louis Strymish, a diminutive man who founded the book store in 1957, walked around the store looking grouchy and giving straightforward orders to his employees with his eyes peering over his glasses perched just above the nose. It turned out Louis’ bark was worse than his bite and we found him to be a kind and knowledgeable teddy bear, of the literate kind. Turns out he was a Harvard-trained chemist whose real passion became selling books! Louis died in 1983, but sons Jon and David took over and ran the store successfully for several years. A new owner continues to operate the New England Book Mobile Fair as a vibrant, independent book store — rare in a world of literate superstores.

The New England Book Mobile Fair proves that family businesses can survive and please generation to generation in a big box store world. It’s certainly one of the great business stories that would someday make a great book!

New England Book Mobile Fair
82-84 Needham St.
Newton Highlands, MA
Tel. (617) 964-7440

Maine Online Hometown Pep Rally for Locally-Owned Businesses

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Bath, Maine, has many great locally-owned shops and restaurants (photo by Eric H.)

Bath, Maine, has many great locally-owned shops and restaurants (photo by Eric H.)

Article by Eric H.,
If you are a locally-owned, independently-run Maine business, we’d like to hear your story.

We’d like to hear your story because we believe that locally-owned businesses like yours are a vital part of the lifeblood of our country. Historically, businesses like yours put us on the map back in the day, and still do with your one-on-one customer service, benefit to your community as a unique presence, and your courage to venture on your own to serve your neighbors and support your family. We appreciate what you do so much!

Our locally-owned business,, has constantly celebrated locally-owned businesses through articles, tips and suggestions. So, if you can write, in your own words, your story about why you went into business — and how you serve your community with your store — we’d be thrilled to hear from you. Together, we can let our readership know about businesses that typically might not know about.

We encourage you to be creative, thoughtful and detailed in your writing, and try to stay away from sounding like an advertisement or marketing plan. We want to hear a story as real as your business. Some subject matter can include the hard work it took to get your business running; overcoming challenges; service to your community; why people come back to your store; and how you survive in a big-box superstore world. Additionally, please send photographs of your store, too, so we can get a visual of what your business look like.

We’ll soon be having online hometown pep rallies for the other New England states — Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. So stay tuned for some great stories across New England on some fantastic locally-owned stores. This is our way of helping stimulate the economy by letting our readers know about your neighborhood “Mom and Pop” store business!

Locally-Owned Gluten-Free Food Business Coming to Randolph, Mass.

Friday, January 15th, 2010


Article and photo by Eric H.,

If you or someone else you know suffers from Celiac’s Disease, then you won’t want to miss our latest story on ALLCANEAT, a Randolph, Mass.-based business that will soon feature an entire line of gluten-free products.

George Moufarrej, former owner of the Fresh Start Bakery in Walpole, Mass., has partnered with several local working professionals to offer “gluten- and allergenic-free foods (breads, pizza shells, cakes, cookies, etc.) the whole family will enjoy as well as providing for people afflicted with celiac disease and other allergic disorders where a gluten- and allergenic-free diet is essential for good health.” 

There’s also quite a story behind the scenes of the business, involving David Ford — ALLCANEAT executive vice president of sales and marketing — whose daughter, Kaitlyn, was diagnosed in 2005 with a form of autism. Through a gluten-free diet, Kailtyn made tremendous strides in becoming more functional.

You can read about ALLCANEAT and Kaitlyn benefiting from a gluten-free diet here…

The Wonderful Retro Feel of Dick and Jane’s General Store, Walpole, Mass.

Friday, January 8th, 2010
A very colorful section of Dick and Jane's General Store

A very colorful section of Dick and Jane's General Store


Article and photo by Eric H.,
Dick and Jane’s General Store, at 944 Main St., in Walpole, Mass., recently took over the old PrintWorks building, and transformed it into a handsome, old-fashioned shop with homemade fudge, retro candies, coffee, bagels, muffins rolls, gelato, educational toys and games.

It is simply a beautiful-looking store, fairly large in size and combining modern and old-time architectural and store layout elements that should appeal to all generations. There’s even a huge M&M machine where customers can dispense common and specialty M&Ms, as well as limited seating to enjoy the yummy candy, food and drinks! Three wide-screen televisions reside in separate sections of the store and feature shows from the Food Network, episodes from Seinfeld and classic old-time television like the “Little Rascals.” Wifi is available, too, thus adding a touch of 21st century technology within the nostalgic atmosphere.

Dick and Jane’s is also affiliated with the Candy Boutique International, offering a “sweet” alternative to flower delivery with “designer containers filled with delicious candies and gourmet chocolates from around the world.”

The feeling at Dick and Jane’s is warm and cozy, and the presence of the business already contributes greatly to the Walpole vision of fully returning the luster back to the downtown. Along with beautiful landscaping of the three town commons (one wonderfully dedicated to a fallen Walpole Soldier) and stores like the Quilt Shop, Dee’s Nimble Needles (huge selection of hand knitting yarns), Betro Pharmacy, Fresh Start Bakery, Gypsy Boutique, Secret Haven home furnishing store, Jalapeno’s Grill, Walpole Music and several other quality locally-owned businesses, downtown Walpole is steadily transforming into a “hometown USA” destination. While there is still much work to do in this southwestern Boston suburb of 23,000 people, the addition of Dick and Jane’s General Store brings a wonderful, back-to-another-era presence to a town that is trying hard to potentiate and update its quaint, classic New England feel.

Dick and Jane’s General Store should be a retail store household name to locals in no time, given the commitment to opening a quality, independently-owned store with a product line that should please everyone. Welcome, and thanks for choosing a downtown setting for your business!

Dick and Jane’s General Store
944 Main St.
Walpole, Mass.
Tel. (508) 734-7046

A Few Words on Irritable Bowl Syndrome…

Thursday, January 7th, 2010


Article and photos by Eric H.,

While browsing all the local arts and crafts booths at the  Town Festival in Hollis, N.H., we became instantly enamored by the talents of Wayne Petersen’s Irritable Bowl Syndrome bowl-making business. Far more than just another New England business with a clever name, Petersen creates a wonderful diversity of handcrafted bowls in various sizes and colors. If you’re in need of a bowl or two, we heartily recommend supporting local business people like Petersen (use the e-mail in the Irritable Bowl Syndrome business card to contact him). His work clearly transcends the typical bowls you see in the big box stores, with each completed project lovingly crafted for his customers.

Plus, we think you’ll find Petersen to be a “regular” guy. No pun intended, of course!

Mouthwatering Baked Goods at Bova’s Bakery in the North End of Boston

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010
A sampling of Bova's Italian cookies

A sampling of Bova's Italian cookies

Article and photo by Eric H.

If you’re looking for a real, locally-owned, family-run Italian bakery, then Bova’s in the North End of Boston, Mass., “takes the cake.”

Legendary and a “must-taste” New England travel attraction landmark in this famous Italian neighborhood, Bova’s is most famous for its delicious, freshly-baked Italian bread (it goes in a hurry in our home!), but that’s just the beginning at this “sweet,” traditional, Italian culinary wonderland. Italian cookies, cakes, eclairs, tiramisu, Neopolitans, turnovers, whoopie pies, cream puffs, ricotta canolis, calzones, pizzas and Italian subs (absolutely loaded) are  just a few of the mouthwatering Italian items on display. Also, if you like the cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory, then you’ll absolutely love Bova’s light and creamy, bursting with flavor time-tested version!  What’s especially noteworthy about Bova’s is that it stands out as our favorite bakery in the North End, quite an accomplishment given the high quality competition.

With amazing aromas and a friendly staff, Bova’s is open 24 hours a day — great news for those always rushing to the bakery before they close for the day!

Bova’s Bakery, 134 Salem St, BostonMA. Tel. 617-523-5601