Keep Calm and Shop in Stow
by Ann Needle
It’s crunch time in Stow. Christmas is a week away — and Hanukkah is underway. There’s nothing worse for holiday cheer than a day at the mall being whacked by a passerby’s shopping bags. Rather than succumb to the crowds of craziness, there are many options closer to home.
We caught up with wife, mother and working woman Sue T. Case (not her real name; not a real person) who had had it with the mall madness. Not to be beaten, she turned to hometown Stow to finish shopping for her family and a host of relatives with whom she will exchange gifts at Christmas dinner.
Tapping the Town Treasures
For her husband, Justin Case, Stow means one thing – golf. Sue headed to Stow Acres Country Club’s Golf Store, creating a gift package for him that included a gift card for greens fees and merchandise, along with some new golf shirts.
Sue’s sister, Eileen Dover, was hosting Christmas dinner this year, with husband, Ben, so Sue wanted to give something special from the realm of the town’s local, fresh products. Luckily, Honey Pot Hill Orchards stays open through the holiday, so Sue gathered a package of jams, jellies, salsas, and apple butter from its store.
The Honey Pot visit reminded her of her favorite aunt, Anita Bathe, who, as the family says, “never leaves Florida” – she abandoned Waltham after that 1998 roof-raking incident. So, Sue had Honey Pot ship some of its apples to her aunt, given the farm ships this fruit anywhere in the U.S. this time of the year. Though they may not arrive in time for the holiday, Sue knows it’s still a sweet reminder of New England’s beauty and warmer days.
On her way to Lower Village and its array of stores, Sue spotted the Lottery sign in the window at Russell’s Convenience. At a loss for what to give her nephew, she bought him a string of scratch tickets — and a shot at making a dent in those college loans. She crossed her fingers that she would think of an accompanying gift in her travels.
Remembering the weather forecast mentioned snow, Sue stopped at Stow House of Pizza on her way to Shaw’s Plaza. Sue’s plow driver, Neil Down, came out twice before 5am last year. Pizza can definitely comfort the weary.
Lower Village Calls
With coffee time lurking, Sue headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for a jolt of double-brewed goodness. Meanwhile, she picked up some items for old Uncle Brock A. of the Lee side of the family (a pound of coffee and a gift card). Sue also grabbed an insulated mug for her nephew that will make a nifty holder for those scratch tickets and keep him from dribbling in his mother’s car.
Star Framers had just the multi-photo frame Sue needs for Nana Bea Goode and her array of favorite photos of her grandchildren. And, while she was there, Sue remembered the tree needed another string of lights, so she dropped into Ace Hardware, where she also found a timer for the lights and a cordless drill for Uncle Harry. After the rabbit incident, cordless should be safer.
Speaking of remembering, Sue forgot there was a Yankee swap coming up with some Stow friends she doesn’t see often enough. As lunch approached, she headed into Emma’s Cafe for the now-famous “Adult” Grilled Cheese, and picked up a gift card for the swap. Hopefully, this will be a loud hint to get together more often.
Looking for something else to round out her husband’s stocking, Sue headed over to Supercuts for a gift card.
Buying for brother-in-law wasn’t tough, as Sue stopped by Colonial Spirits for a bottle of Bud’s favorite tequila. She noticed the bouquets of lilies from Stow Greenhouses, buying one as an appreciation gift (and a touch of spring) for the friend hosting the Yankee swap.
No one would dream of forgetting Thor the chihuaha and Puff the cat on the holiday, so Sue headed over to Pet Source. For Thor, there’s a holiday sweater, while Puff will enjoy some catnip. (In December, Sue does not judge.)
Crossing Great Road to Hobbyland, Sue purchased a remote-controlled airplane for Grandpa John Diss, who always wanted to fly. Sue then picked up a “Big Bag of Science” kit for daughter April May (better than experimenting with the microwave…again).
Thinking of her 16-year-old son, Arthur Itis, as she prepared to leave the Hobbyland parking lot, Sue remembered that Nashoba Regional High School Store carries lots of “spirit wear” with the school logo, with items ranging from flannel bottoms to sweats and jackets. Arthur mentioned that his Marketing class teacher, Stavros Andreopoulos, would take orders online from the store’s available stock, and that anyone donating an unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots when they picked up their order would receive a free gift.
Sue realized Arthur was hinting, and headed back into Hobbyland to purchase a Ravensburg 3D Puzzle to donate.
Giving More While Shopping
Dreading the thought of landing at the mall for the remainder of her shopping, Sue circled back into Shaw’s and its gift card kiosk. There she picked up store gift cards for her teenage nieces, who would much rather rely on themselves than their “middle-aged” aunt to select clothing.
Earlier in the season, Sue bought several gifts via a route she knew would benefit the town. She discovered Amazon contributes half a percent of any purchases to the charity of your choice. So far, local organizations that have signed on include Stow Community Chest, Warm Hearts of Stow, the Stow Parent Teacher Organization, and the Stow Food Pantry. Sue went to smile.amazon.com, and followed the instructions for finding the non-profit she wanted to gift.
As Sue T. Case drives home, she’s sure she’s forgetting something. But for now, some take-out from Red Ginger will be comfort enough and even better from her favorite waiter, Justin Thyme.