It’s true that when one travels, one expects to come home to find everything as it was.  But life marches on, and nothing ever stays the same.  For example, in my little corner of Massachusetts, several destination or iconic, cherished local businesses have shuttered, or are about to:

Johnnie’s, Arlington – An old school supermarket, not chic, not trendy, and with a limited selection.  BUT they did have the only store-made corned beef in the area, and still had in-store butchers who knew how to cut meat, without the fancy gourmet counter prices.  Johnnie’s shuttered over the winter months.  We’ll eventually be getting a small Whole Foods in the same location, but it won’t be the same.

Nicola’s Pizza, Arlington – Yes, you can’t swing a pepperoni in town without hitting a pizzeria, but Nicola’s was special – hand made as opposed to institutional dough; rich family-recipe sauces; real cheese; excellent quality toppings, all cooked to bready/crispy perfection.  Word is murky, that the site, store, and recipes have been sold, and a new owner will continue the Nicola’s tradition; or that the site will continue to be a take-out and sit-down eatery, but with a new menu.  In any case, the old family’s ownership and touch will be sorely missed.

Higgins Museum, Worcester – A private museum of arms and armor, endowed by a steel magnate about a hundred years ago, and housed in unique building, set up to feel like a castle.  The Higgins will be open until the end of the year, but after that the collection will (in part) be housed by the Worcester Art Museum.  Go now, because you’ll never see all of those artifacts in one place in such an atmosphere again. 

Wild & Woolly, Lexington – This is the hardest and most personal blow of all.  W&W is a specialty yarn shop.  It had the biggest selection of yarn in Eastern, Massachusetts, along with the personal touch that only experienced help can give.  I counted W&W as more than just a store.  It was a “home away from home” – the first place I visited when we moved up from Maryland, and the first folk who befriended me here.  Over the years I’ve taught classes there, and helped out during inventories and big sales, or when I was between jobs. I’ve put in a little bit of time helping them prepare for their final clearance sale, which is going on now.  Eventually I’ll find other places to buy interesting knitting supplies  (especially the non-commodity yarns that need to be assessed in hand for drape, texture and color); but I’ll never replace the “store family” who will now scatter to the winds.


So in summary, you blink and things change.  Nothing is forever, so appreciate even the small things, places, friends and services that surround you, because everything is impermanent.

10 responses

  1. Marylyn Sidle | Reply

    I just read your newsletter and was sorry to read that Wild and Woolly shop is closing. Many years ago my friend and I went on a Knitting Cruise out of Rockland, ME. and the owner of that shop was also on board the “Pauline”. I’ve forgotten her name but I do remember she collected “hand items.” It was a wonderful week for all 16 of us! Marylyn in VA

    1. That’s Jackie Katzenstein. Thankfully, the shop’s closing has to do with rent and space demand in a prime location, and not to do with her personal health. I’m happy to report she’s as feisty as ever. I’ll pass your regards on to her.

  2. Pardon this doggerel, but …
    A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is still a sigh — but I want my Nicola’s pizza pie!
    (As time goes by … )

  3. Sending empathy! It is indeed hard to watch changes like these. Replacing a place like johnnies with a Whole foods makes me think of the movie You’ve Got Mail. Losing your yarn home, now that’s hard indeed. wishing you wonderful new shops discovered soon.

  4. I thought it was only in Portugal it happened.

  5. Sad indeed. Small businesses have a tough time. Especially sorry to hear about the loss of your LYS. That’s a difficult relationship to lose.

  6. Higgins Armory? OMG! That is such an amazing museum. Such a shame! And Wild & Wooley? Wow–that is such an amazing LYS, even though I’ve only been there twice. It’ s hard to find a good LYS. Don’t tell me Bilicks (sp?) is next? It’s one of the few 5 and dimes I’ve seen still standing. Darn it all!


    1. Balich’s. It’s about four blocks from my house, and amazingly enough – is still there. I posted about it ages ago:

  7. In happy knitty news, though, the owner of A Mind’s Eye in Porter Square found a buyer so that the business can carry on.

    1. Yes! I ran into Mind’s Eye’s new owner at W&W while she was buying some store fixtures. I am encouraged. I’ve also heard that the Classic Elite mill ends and general yarn store has opened a satellite location in Billerica – much closer than Lowell, MA. Even with the closure of much valued venues, Massachusetts is far from becoming a yarn desert.

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