In the early morning, Lisa Shah, Owner of LIT Boutique, briskly stepped through the door of Shake the Tree with a shiver of relief, thankful for the warmth coming from inside the boutique. Breezing by an array of colorfully patterned scarfs neatly hung on the wall; she opened a box of flyers for the 8th Annual North End Holiday Shopping Stroll and greeted fellow storeowners with a hug.
On Dec. 5, from 6-11 p.m., 20 boutiques, galleries, and studios will be participating in the holiday extravaganza that offers shoppers a unique experience, discounted prices, and light refreshments to nibble on while skimming through jewelry, sparkling ornaments, and cozy knit sweaters.
“The Stroll is definitely a good way to promote local businesses,” says Shah. “And a good way for the whole community to come out together and celebrate the holidays with us.”
Over the past 10 years, the North End has become a more thriving neighborhood that includes a multitude of specialty retail stores. Some local shop owners have noticed an increase in consumer support for independent stores, which offer a more personal touch (and free gift wrapping) than browsing through a mall or online.
“Retailers are beginning to look at the North End as a vibrant economic opportunity. Retail stores, in partnership with the restaurants, create a viable and wonderful neighborhood,” says Marian Klausner, Owner of Shake the Tree. “I look forward to doing creative collaborations to continue making this neighborhood as vibrant as possible.”
The friendship between the many local shop owners in the North End is particularly endearing. The stores are constantly collaborating with one another, and know precisely where to direct customers who are searching for specific trinkets and products.
Shop for home furnishings at Cataldo Interiors, one-of-a-kind hats at SALMAGUNDI, and designer sunglasses at Sol Optics. A Matter of Face is offering custom eye shadow pallets, the Wine Bottega is providing a free holiday wine tasting, and Shake the Tree is offering chocolate tastings.
“We all offer unique, little gifts you can’t find in department stores that we search all over the world for,” says Wendy Lepore, Owner of Ensemble, bundled up in a skull-design cashmere scarf.
The North End Beautification Committee will be passing out hot chocolate at the corner of Hanover and Cross Streets. During the Christmas Tree Event, carolers from the North End Music and Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC) will be singing, and visitors can expect a visit from Mayor Marty Walsh at The Prado.
“We have some wonderful new shops in the North End that are participating in the Stroll,” says Tara Shea, Owner of Cocoanuts. “It’s a great way to meet the new owners and see all the wonderful offerings. A lot of the shops curate local artists and makers.”
Participating businesses include: A Matter of FACE, Cataldo Interiors, Christian Pleva Images, Cocoanuts, Ensemble, Heart and Sole, In-jean-ius, LIT Boutique, Luigi & Lola, Luke Aaron, Lulu’s Sweet Shoppe, the North Bennet Street School, Officina 189, SALMAGUNDI, Savas Studios, Sedurre, Shake the Tree, Sol Optics, Twilight, and The Wine Bottega.