TOWNSEND -- Although the small subdivision of Townsend called West Townsend is still part of the municipality, the stretch of land, which consists of a number of privately owned businesses, can feel somewhat isolated from the rest of town, according to some of the local shop owners.
"West Townsend is kind of the lost end of the world," said Al Cadrette, owner of the Settle Shop, which specializes in unfinished, largely hand-crafted wooden furniture. "Everything goes on in Townsend center or Townsend Harbor. We have a lot of history out here in our buildings and so forth, but it seems like nobody knows where West Townsend is."
In order to re-establish West Townsend on the map, several store business owners have joined forces to host an open house on Dec. 1 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The open house will stretch from the Settle Shop down Route 119, ending with Unique Boutique. Several business owners will be putting out refreshments and some will be offering different shopping incentives and discounts. The Settle Shop will also play host to Santa Claus from 12 to 2 p.m.
The idea for the open house started with Cadrette and one of his co-managers in the gift shop.
"We always do some kind of open house for the Christmas season. We got to talking about it and said what would happen if we contacted some of the other merchants up here?" said Cadrette. "We want to try to make it a destination rather than a single business.
The Settle Shop passed the idea onto Dick Fiorentino, co-owner of Hobart Village Antique Mall, and from there, the idea caught on through several other businesses. It helps, said both Cadrette and Fiorentino, that none of the businesses act in direct competition with one another.
"Nobody out here is really competing with each other," Cadrette said. "Each of us is an independent business with different lines and different products."
Fiorentino said that frequently, Townsend shoppers will head east on Route 119 as opposed to coming down in the direction of West Townsend. A lot of his business is drawn from surrounding communities, the greater Boston area and even some out of state.
"It would be hard for a business to succeed if it was just the local area," he said. "You couldn't survive."
Still, he's hopeful that the open house will pull in residents a little closer to home. One of the major draws for customers to come to the local shopping stretch, said Fiorentino, is being able to find products that they wouldn't find in any other location. He said he tries to accommodate every type of shopper with his range of products, which includes jewelry to furniture and a plethora of items in between.
"To me, it's much more interesting," he said. "You go to the mall and there's a lot of the same type of stuff. (The stores in malls) all have something a little bit different but they basically cater to a certain clientele. We strive for a broader range of interests."
Additionally, he said, shopping in town offers support not just to the local economy but also directly to the local residents.
"We employ their kids," said Fiorentino. "We've been here 17 years and we've employed a lot of young kids. A lot of them are married now with kids of their own. A lot of them come back to see us and some bring their kids back."
Wanda Pero, owner of Unique Boutique, said although her consignment shop business is busy during December, she still wants to spread the word that local shoppers don't have to travel far to find a good deal, something that she finds many people are surprised to find out.
"I have customers who live in Townsend that don't know there are shops out here," she said. "We've been here 12 years and people come in that live in the harbor who say, 'I didn't even know you were here.'"
"We've been fighting this recession for so many years now, we're just trying to see if we can do something different to see if we can get people to know that West Townsend exists and there are merchants out here."