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Merchants primed for fall, Halloween and the holidays

By Rod Lee

Sharen Doray thought for several seconds, wondering how to respond to a question about “what’s new with your business” when it is fairly obvious that at Ladybug Florist there is not a whole lot to add to “it is flowers for all sorts of occasions.”

Then, realizing that the inquirer wanted something to go with a story he was writing in advance of Halloween, Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday gift-buying frenzy, she pointed to an arrangement sitting nearby and said “that’s for the funeral of Officer Lee.”

Michael J. Lee of the Webster Police Department had died at the age of thirty-eight from injuries he sustained on October 7th when his 2015 Toyata Tundra slammed into a tractor trailer that was stopped in the breakdown lane of I-395 just south of Exit 6.

The tragic accident struck a chord with Ms. Doray. She was more than happy to create a bouquet in Officer Lee’s memory.

“My brother-in-law is a police officer in Leicester. Paul Doray,” she said. “We’re very proud of him, all police officers and firefighters.

“I hope we did it justice,” she said, of the white roses-laden bouquet with a replica of Officer Lee’s WPD cap positioned as a centerpiece.

Aside from that, the mood at Ladybug Florist, 340 Main St. in Oxford, and among merchants at stores throughout South County, is, as Gail Maloney of Gail’s Fabulous Finds put it, “we’re getting ready for our crazy Christmas season.”

A run of warm weather following “a weird summer” has left Ms. Maloney and her fellow shopkeepers in a quandary as to when fall and the attendant step-up in foot traffic will finally arrive.

“Our big thing is Black Friday and shop small” the weekend after Thanksgiving, Ms. Maloney said. Meanwhile, fashion shows, including one she organized recently for the Auburn Woman’s Club, are an element of her business that she relies on to complement an interesting array of consignment.

Similarly, Joanna Roush, owner and master floral designer at The Gypsy Rose, 250 Main St. in Oxford, knows that the more diverse her enterprise, the better.

“I am doing a lot of fresh-forage designs and fruit and gourmet baskets for the holidays,” Ms. Roush said. “Those, and my classes, which I offer twice a month, are popular. Classes in how to create fall centerpieces, succulent gardens and Christmas centerpieces. I do a lot of home décor, custom-made items and wreaths.”

Rust To Ruffles, burned out of its former location, is back, joining the push toward the holidays. Owner Lisa Caccialino’s store opened in the Oxfords Casual Dining plaza at 2 Millbury Blvd. in Oxford on September 30th with an entirely refreshed stockpile of antiques, vintage and handcrafted items. She plans to expand into “space next door, hopefully in November,” she said.

“We bounce back. That’s what we do,” Ms. Caccialino said.

Rust To Ruffles will host a Halloween Open House on October 28th.

For those seeking to live a little more on the wild side as October 31st approaches, there is no shortage of opportunities including a “Monster Bash” featuring the group “Sudden Urge” along with cash and prizes at Point Breeze in Webster on October 28th, the annual Halloween Bash under the “Big Top” with a “Killer DJ” at Grill 37 in Pomfret (also on October 28th), a “Zombie Hunt” at All Starr Paintball in Webster (continuing October 20th, 21st, 27th, 28th and 29th) and a performance of “Death By Fatal Murder”—now underway at the Bradley Playhouse in Putnam and earning a positive vibe according to Manager Monique Maldonado.

Ms. Maldonado describes the production, which is directed by Kathy Parker, as “a spoof, a fun show” and, although “an unknown,” is averaging an attendance of about 150 or so. “We try to do something like this around this time of year,” she said. “Next year it will be The Uninvited Guest.”

Death By Fatal Murder continues at The Bradley through October 22nd.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.