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Hometown Marketplace

Small business stricken by impact of COVID-19 digs in for the long haul

By Rod Lee

Stuart D. “Stu” Mulhane of Mulhane Home for Funerals on N. Main St. in Millbury was probably speaking for hundreds of other businesses in the Blackstone Valley when during a telephone conversation on March 18th he described the coronavirus pandemic as “no question, unprecedented.

“It is the same for us as all other funeral homes,” Mr. Mulhane said. “Services are limited, especially the size of the gatherings. We will do our best to take care of everyone.”

Guns, ammo—and chocolate—drive business at Mike’s

By Rod Lee

Anyone entering Mike’s Gun Shop in Whitinsville on a Saturday morning would probably encounter the same kind of chatter as could be heard at other places where people congregate to talk shop, to talk the weather, to talk politics or to talk sports.

Except at Mike’s its guns and ammo which when you get a roomful of enthusiasts together is likely to produce such remarks as “I’d much rather have a tight gun than something loose” or—and this one was directly jokingly at President/Owner Michael David Yacino—“I usually text him first so he doesn’t start shooting!”

Webster eager for completion of French River Walk, downtown revitalization

By Rod Lee

It is easy to think of the town of Webster’s business district as comprising two, if not three, distinct entities.

At the far end heading east on Route 16 toward Douglas there is the Indian Ranch entertainment venue, Point Breeze and Waterfront Mary’s on Webster Lake, the East Village Square shopping center and Mapfre, all of which are major assets; and assorted other mercantile activity.

Dukakis jokes, advocates for better rail service at Chamber’s 40th

By Rod Lee

He is much older now and long removed from his position as the 65th governor of the Commonwealth and then a candidate for president whose bid in 1988 against the late George H.W. Bush was doomed by mistakes that he himself admits were catastrophic.

Anticipation nevertheless ran high for the appearance of Michael S. Dukakis as guest speaker at the 40th annual meeting and awards ceremony of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton on November 16th.

UniBank was presenting sponsor of the event for 2018.

Auburn selectmen shower business community with love

By Rod Lee

Life for business in the town of Auburn was once not so good but is now much better and looking even rosier in the years ahead.

In exclusive comments they made to The Yankee Xpress, Mark Sarkisian Jr. of Capitol Siding & Home Improvement, Steve Londregan of Chuck’s Steak House & Margarita Grille and Dick Taylor of Masterman’s all praised the recent unanimous decision by the Auburn Board of Selectmen to move ever closer to a single tax rate for commercial/industrial and residential properties.

No fuzzy math as Webster inches toward single property tax rate

By Rod Lee

Whether the discussion is with Chief Assessor Marc D. Becker or members of the business community, there is widespread agreement that the town of Webster is a welcoming place for enterprise thanks to a relatively low commercial tax rate of $16.40 per $1000 of assessed valuation—down significantly from a high of $28.35 in 2002.

State’s foot dragging on tax free weekend rankles merchants

By Rod Lee

It should come as no surprise to legislators on Beacon Hill that the owners of appliance and furniture stores in Central Massachusetts are more than slightly perturbed—and miffed—that  the state is again dragging its feet about whether to approve a “sales tax-free weekend,” good for transactions conducted August 11-12.

“They’re waiting until the last minute like they do every year,” Raoul Chalifoux of Spencer Furniture, 6 Olde Main St. (Rt. 9) in Spencer, said the morning of July 23rd. “It would be nice to know. Summer can be a little slow.”

Enchanted Passage bookstore a fantasyland for kids

By Rod Lee

Eighteen months or so have slipped by since the grand experiment that is Enchanted Passage began operations on Armsby Road in Sutton. Long enough for Kimberly Cake, who owns the children’s bookstore and enrichment center with her mother Sandy Loomis, to feel that a corner has been turned.

Speaking of which, there are a fair number of those in traversing the hallways of a building that once housed Vaillancourt Folk Art, in discovering the treasures that can be found room to room (including unique gifts).