Article by Eric H.
For the next several posts we’ll be featuring New England downtowns, and some of their locally-owned stores.
Today, we feature Walpole, Mass., a pleasant, friendly small town located between Boston, Mass., and Providence, R.I. The two-block downtown is quite attractive and spacious featuring historic buildings and homes (Common St.), a large town common with a stone gazebo, beautiful Memorial Pond with a fountain, a large parcel of land with another fountain dedicated to local fallen Soldier Andrew Bavevich, ball fields and open spaces between School and Main Streets, a fantastic seasonal Farmers Market, and many, unique locally-owned stores.
Some of Walpole’s most interesting retail stores, restaurants and other businesses:
All About Quilts, at 958 Main St, provides services for quilt-making.
Second Time Around, at 949 Main St., features a great selection of antiques and second-hand items. The owner is a very unassuming guy who is eager to help customers.
Betro Pharmacy at 965 Main St. – Owner Peter Betro knows virtually all of his customers (and addresses) by name at this old-time, locally-owned pharmacy. Nice to see such dedicated customer service here — in the best sense, it’s almost like returning to another era!
The Clayroom at 930 Main St. – A great place to spend an afternoon and paint your own pottery. You’ll see people of all ages here coming up with some colorful and creative masterpeices!
Replays at 955 East St. -- You’ll find just about anything “sports” from skates to baseball gloves at this old-fashioned, slightly worn-looking but charming and packed to the gills consignment shop.
Gypsy Boutique at 949 Main St. – A small but jam-packed clothing store, including designer merchandise, at some very nice prices. You don’t see too many stores like this around anymore in an otherwise big-box superstore world.
Walpole Music at 942 East St. – A fabulous store with an excellent variety of musical instruments at low-prices and a network of musicians dedicated to teaching you how to play your chosen instrument through class time.
Hoops and Needles at 940 East St. – In business since 1984, Hoops and Needles stocks more than 2000 titles of cross stitch leaflets, linens, even weaves and cotton aida fabrics, embellishments, buttons, beads, metallics, overdyed floss and much more.
Mimi’s Corner at Main and Common Sts. – With a worn Coca Cola sign out front, this is an long established Walpole variety store where kids like to frequent after school for candy bars and slush. Mimi’s also seems to have a knack for turning out lottery and scratch ticket winners!
Harney Dance Academy at 945 Main St. — One of the country’s best Irish step dance instruction schools, with groups going on to U.S. and world finals.
Watson’s Candies at 761 Main St. – Just outside downtown Walpole, Watson’s is synonymous with fine chocolates, including some terrific fudge. Also the home of Scoops, an ice cream stand featuring Richardson’s Ice Cream.
Secret Haven, at 21 West St., has some lovely home furnishings in a relaxed environment, while Dee’s Nimble Needles, at 15 West St., offers a huge selection of hand-knitting yarns such as baby and sock yarns, fine luxury yarns, cashmeres and handbag yarns.
Epic Flowers at 1006 Main St. and Flowers and More at 1075 Main St., both offer great floral arrangements and some very nice people working in their shops. I once remember purchasing some flowers from Epic after the death of a close friend, and the gentleman working there had the right sense of sympathy, kindness and tact — and a wonderful floral arrangement. Isn’t that what one exactly wants in a floral shop?
Locally-Owned Full Service Restaurants:
Finnegan’s Wake at 7 Glenwood Ave. – Hard-to-find, cozy downstairs Irish pub serving a great variety of drinks and a fantastic roast turkey dinner, Shepherd’s Pie, Guinness beef stew and fish and chips. Owner Tom Kirwin shows a lot of pride of ownership and, consequently, the locals show up in faithful numbers. A place you can call your own secret discovery and one to hang out at a leisurely pace, given its comfortable surroundings and friendly atmosphere.
Ginjo at 889 Main St. – High-end Asian food in a sleek but causal atmosphere serving Japanese, Chinese and Thai cuisine. About as good as it gets outside of Chinatown!
Raven’s Nest at 998 Main St. – A newcomer that has been beautifully restored with hand-painted bricks on the wall, high ceilings, a fireplace, long handsome bar and attractive outdoor dining deck. The food (lunch and dinner) is quite good, including crispy calamari, burgers, maple chicken salad, Shepherds Pie, creole jambalaya, fish and chips and excellent bar pizza. Owner Mark McAuliffe is from Ireland and set out to create a restaurant that replicates the authentic Irish pubs of his homeland. People I know who have been to Ireland — and myriad Irish pubs — say that he has succeeded in doing so. Great place to catch the football games this fall! Read full review here on Raven’s Nest
Beckett’s at 1065 Main St. — Another high quality Irish pub on the outskirts of downtown Walpole, Beckett’s separates its lively bar scene from a few attractive family-friendly dining rooms with nice hardwood floors and wide screen televisions. Named after Irish dramatist and poet Samuel Beckett, this popular Walpole restaurant has some very good vegetable curry, Shepherds Pie, Atlantic salmon and marinated steak tips.
Jalapeno’s at 960 Main St. — This large Mexican bistro delivers some fantastic Yucatan cuisine and has a large margarita menu. A nice addition to the downtown and one really of the best Mexican restaurants we’ve been to in the Boston area!
Although not a full-service restaurant, consider visiting the First Sandwich Shop at 975 Main St. Owner and all-around good guy Tom Dugdale keeps the prices quite low with “Meal Deals” at $4.99 (sandwich, chili, pizza, etc., with drink, and chips or cookies) and a large cheese pizza at $5.99! We really like the sandwiches, salads, chili and pizza at this long-time Walpole landmark, in business since 1969. This small storefront does has limited seating in pleasant surroundings, including plenty of dinosaur designs and collectibles. Turns out that Dugdale is an expert on dinosaurs, having once appeared on the David Letterman Show! At Butter Cafe and Bakery (935 East St.), owner Steve Butters and crew turn out some amazing baked goods, sandwiches, soups and salads that are every bit as good as what you’d find in Boston. Maybe that’s because Butters previously served as chef as some renowned Boston restaurants. We love the homemade meatloaf sandwich, roast turkey sandwich with cranberry and house-made stuffing, steak tips, made-from-scratch chicken pot pie and steamed hot dogs. On the dessert side, try the oversized whoopie pies (one has peanut butter), and the “Butter” version of the Hostess Cupcake — amazing!
Westbury Farms at 925 Main St. is tucked away in the new CVS shopping plaza, downtown, and retains a sense of an old-school “townie” spot with counter and booths, an established wait staff, locals talking it up with each other, and some well-prepared breakfast and lunch staples like pancakes, clam chowder, club sandwiches and burgers. This is your classic hometown dining spot!
If you love pizza, you’d be hard-pressed to find any better than Mangia at 938 Main St. Serving delicious Neopolitan pizza with truly fresh toppings, we place this ahead of just about any pizza place around with, perhaps, the exception of the legendary Pizzeria Regina (North End , Boston), Santarpio’s (East Boston) and Pizzapalooza (Newton)! Take-out only — if visiting and the weather is good, enjoy your meal at the town common.
Downtown Walpole — much like the town itself — almost seems like a relaxing getaway despite being located within the often congested, often overdeveloped Boston area. I’d also recommend that anyone wanting to open a business consider downtown Walpole. I’ve seen the friendly and dedicated business owners with a vision, proper budgeting, and good business plan stay here for years. What you would get in return is a community-oriented town with decent hard-working residents frequenting your store.
Walpole has a few storefronts ready to be filled. If interested, I’d recommend calling Stephanie Mercandetti, the Walplole Economic Development and Grants Officer, at 508.660.7352 or by email at email@example.com.
Below, view some additional photos of downtown Walpole to get an idea of the area and its shops. Look forward to you shopping or doing business here!
Editor’s note: the author of this article is not affiliated with Walpole town government and merely writes from a personal and enthusiastic perspective!