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South County, NE Connecticut merchants eager to ring in holidays

By Rod Lee

That not even Amazon and Walmart can get an earlier or more enthusiastic jump on the holidays is abundantly apparent in the offerings businesses, churches and organizations across South County and northeastern Connecticut are making available to residents in the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

For those who want to get a jump on the beverages they might want to select for the holidays, for instance, there is a “Grand Tasting” being hosted by Mirash Isufi of Hometown Wine & Liquors in Oxford this Saturday (November 16th) from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the nearby American Legion Post, 227 Main St.

November 16th also presents the opportunity to purchase nifty handmade gifts by way of St. Ann’s of Oxford’s Fall Fair, Holy Trinity of Webster’s Vendor & Craft Fair, St. Roch’s of Oxford’s Harvest Fair and St. Andrew Bobola of Dudley’s Holy Rosary Christmas Bazaar.

Shepherd Hill’s Festival of Crafts follows on November 23rd and then there is Grace Church of Oxford’s Holiday Basket Festival and the Auburn Junior Woman’s Club’s Holiday Bazaar on November 30th.

Meanwhile, area restaurants and stores are pushing Thanksgiving Day meals and catering, gift cards, merchandise and holiday functions and parties.

The day after Thanksgiving is when Morse Lumber, 994 N. Woodstock Road, Southbridge, begins putting out its Christmas trees, Marshall Morse said. “We grow them and we sell them,” Mr. Morse said. “My grandfather, H. Porter Morse, started in the early 1950s and I took over in 1980. We have a lot of repeat customers and we like to think of ourselves as the family tree farm in that regard.”

Come the holidays, the Table 3 Restaurant Group in Sturbridge pulls out all the stops.

“Thanksgiving is a huge holiday for us both at The Duck as well as The Barn at Wight Farm,” Table 3’s Dan Goyna said. “Last year we sat more than 600 guests for a great Thanksgiving Day holiday dinner.

“In addition to The Duck and The Barn our Café offers catering from Thanksgiving-oriented side dishes to entire Thanksgiving Day dinners.

“Holiday gifts cards are a big seller for us and we begin running a promotion for discounted gift cards right after the Thanksgiving holiday. This year we will begin selling gift cards online; [these] are available as a physical gift card that can be mailed anywhere, a mobile gift card sent to your phone or the recipient’s phone, or an electronic gift card emailed directly to whoever you choose.”

Table 3 also figures in The Bird Store and More’s “Night Owl Christmas,” an extravaganza that Bill Cormier, his wife Nancy and Dezeree Kelley have been hosting a 4 Cedar St. in Sturbridge for about ten years now, Mr. Cormier said. “It is extremely popular. We close the store at 6:00 p.m. and reopen at 6:30 for the event, which runs until 9:00. Cedar Street Café caters it, Lori Brooks plays folk music on the guitar, Ed Desrosier will appear for the first time this year to do wood carvings, Santa will be here, if the weather cooperates we will have a fire pit outside and wine. Nobody does this anymore. The only drawback is we don’t have enough time to talk with customers, it’s so jammed. Last year we didn’t get out of here until after 11:00 p.m.!”

At The Enchanted Gift Loft, 250 Main St., Oxford—an artisan co-op operated by Joanna Roush of The Gypsy Rose (downstairs at the same address) and Donna Healy—the holidays are a time to shine.

Summer was slow but November and December should be better, Tina Martin, Donna Healy’s sister and helper, said. The Enchanted Gift Loft has plenty of neat items as it continues to grow its inventory.

“We do lots of classes (wire wrapping, turkey painting), we have lots of new vendors (the gnome lady, Mr. B’s Twisted Tree, the pottery lady, another who does machine embroidery), many of whom I connect with through a crafting group I run on Facebook and at vendor events,” Ms. Martin said.

At The Gypsy Rose, Ms. Roush recently launched another component to her business with the “Owl Nest Studio,” featuring crafts nights, classes and the space is available to rent for children’s birthday parties and private functions.

“Bargain” is the watchword of Katherine Viens, owner of K.A.R. Jewelers, 192-194 Providence St. in Putnam.

“Everything’s on sale,” Ms. Viens said.

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