Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Warding Off This Post

Getting rid of it is more like it:

"Another neighborhood store becomes part of a bygone era" by Lisa Mullins, Globe Correspondent  April 01, 2015

MEDFORD —Ward’s Gifts, a neighborhood retailer that has been a landmark in Medford Square that generations have relied on for wedding presents, confirmation gifts, and other mementos of milestones, is among the many small merchants caving under the crush of competition from chain stores and online retailers. Stacy Mitchell has seen this many times before; she codirects the Maine-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit working to strengthen local economies.

“People forget to support these places,” Mitchell said. “In their minds, they rely on a particular local business and count on it to be there. Yet in day-to-day living, they don’t always follow through on where they spend their money.”

Like many longtime customers, Mary Bastiani of Reading can tie the touchstones of her life to Ward’s Gifts.

As a teenager, Bastiani would page through magazines and become captivated by ads for sterling and china patterns. When she became a teacher, Bastiani could afford to buy fine china and spent hours in Ward’s eyeing her first purchase.

“I bought a Wedgwood dinner plate and put it on my folks’ dining room table,” she said. She has bought many other gifts since, the last being a sterling brush and comb set for her youngest grandchild.

As admiring of Ward’s as she was, Bastiani was on a budget. When she was paying for a Waterford crystal wine glass several years ago, she asked Ward’s to match an online price for the item. They did that time, but not for the next one.

Online retailing has done much to change the economics.

“Because of the Internet, you really have to compete on price on a lot of items, so there’s no profit margin,” said Donald Ward Cranley, 50, the third generation of Wards to own the store. “But expenses keep going up. My health insurance was $1,600 a month. That came out of my pocket.”

Right, it's all the Internet's fault.

Cranley recently took a managerial job at CVS Health Corp. and is now covered by that company’s benefits.


"CVS Health Corp. chief executive Larry J. Merlo’s total compensation increased by 3.3 percent to $32.3 million last year, the company reported Tuesday. Merlo, whose compensation included personal use of the retailer’s jets valued at $46,293, took over as the CVS chief executive in 2011. He has worked for the company for more than 30 years. The Woonsocket, R.I., pharmacy chain made headlines last year for dropping tobacco products as it expanded to offer more health services. Merlo’s total compensation included his base salary, time- and performance-driven stock awards and options, cash incentives, pension-related funds and other benefits, according to the most recent disclosure statement from CVS."

Walgreen's is better and cheaper, and now I $ee why!

With the closing of Ward’s Gifts in sight, longtime customers have been by to pay their respects. Behind the counter, as always, is the woman who has been the friendly face of Ward’s for some 50 years. Barbara Ward Cranley turns 87 this year and still dresses for success.

Out of her mind.


Her father, Douglas Ward, started the company in 1942 as a yarn shop. After World War II, Americans had money to spend, and he started building out Ward’s elegant menagerie of gifts.

And now we do not; that's why they are closing down.

“In the 1970s, it was all about fondue pots, CorningWare, and food processors,”  Susan Ward Mitrano said. “In the ’80s, we made a big transition to collectibles, like Precious Moments and Hummels. Collector plates were huge. In the ’90s, it was lighthouses and Emmett Kelley clown figurines.”

I hate collectibles and the propaganda that drove it since the house is full of worthless shit now.

After that, home decor was king; now it’s fashion accessories and jewelry.

Barbara Ward Cranley stood by shelves of glistening Waterford crystal. “We started selling Waterford as soon as they started shipping it from Ireland 50 years ago,” she recalled.... 

Didn't they close down and move?

Related: Waterford opens Newbury Street store in Boston

So where do you want to go to lunch?

Cranley glanced toward his mother, standing near where medals of saints were displayed. “We did what we could to keep the store going longer than we probably should have, just so it was still open for her,” he said. “At 87, she’s now ready to retire. She understands.”

His sister, Susan, slipped her arm around her mother and talked of their plans to fly to Ireland together to finally see the Waterford factory that provided all those goblets for all those years.

Great idea, except it is not there anymore.



"Recalling 29 Newbury’s glory days; With 29 Newbury closing, owner Debbie Lewis recalls the old days — Lesbian Fizzes, Senator John Kerry, and a street full of independent store owners" by Beth Teitell, Globe Staff  April 08, 2015

29 Newbury itself is passing as real estate booms, and rents and taxes rise in the Back Bay. Debbie Lewis, the longtime owner, said her landlord, D.L. Saunders Real Estate Corp., told her she needs to be out by the end of April.

“I feel like I’m hosting a funeral,” Lewis said on Saturday, as the unhappy news spread. “People are asking me where they can go [after 29 Newbury closes April 18] and I say ‘I don’t know.’ ”

Donald Saunders, the building owner, e-mailed the Globe to say he was “not sure why Lewis is vacating — I believe it was a mutual decision” — a characterization Lewis strongly rejected.

Either way, he said he can get about $200 a square foot — more than Lewis is paying — and said is he looking for a tenant similar to some he already has. “I have Valentino. I have Loro Piana. That’s what I am going to find for this space.”

Back in 1986, when Lewis and her fiance (now ex-husband) began running 29 Newbury, but in its day — which is sort of still now, but also sort of isn’t, where Winona Ryder and Johnny Depp reportedly once touched down when they were in town. Where John Kerry was spotted in the early 1990s, when he was already a US Senator, but before he married Teresa Heinz — it fit with the Newbury Street snobbism of the day.

Maybe the “recalling a time, the end of an era, and reflecting how the world around has changed” is a good thing.

Meanwhile, as the days tick down, the regulars are trying to hold on to what they’ve had....

“Like Cheers.”