Westfield Newsroom

Business owners find inventive ways to showcase local artisans

WESTFIELD-While our mailboxes are beginning to fill up with catalogs from stores far and wide, local businesses are hopeful that area residents will consider stopping in to their shops to see what unique gift items they might find for those on their holiday shopping list.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the way business owners can operate their businesses, many are thinking outside the box for new ways to engage patrons.

For Donna Shibley, owner of Pilgrim Candle at 36 Union Ave., she is now offering “private shopping parties” throughout the holiday season for people who don’t feel comfortable just yet in a store with a lot of people.

“Come in with some girlfriends for a private party gathering,” said Shibley, who is also known for her Thankful Hearts annual holiday gathering to benefit a local charity. In years past, Shibley has hosted approximately 15 local artisans to showcase their products throughout her store that is dominated by her extensive line of handcrafted candles.

The “Winter Woods” scent is especially popular at this time of year at Pilgrim Candle in Westfield. (DONNA SHIBLEY PHOTO)

“We will still have our annual festive shopping extravaganza but will have to limit the number of people in the store at a time due to COVID-19 regulations,” said Shibley, noting she will be unable to have artisans present in the store this year.

The Thankful Hearts event is planned Nov. 19 from 5 – 9 p.m. and a free drawing for a $50 gift is planned as well as candle giveaways.

“Normally I would take the vendor fee and donate those funds to the Westfield Food Pantry,” said Shibley. “This year I’m going to request monetary donations from the customers who come in.”

Shibley noted she features local artisans year round in the store as well as clothing lines of Caroline Hill and the Howard’s Collection.

Currently, Bev Donnachie of Bev’s Patchwork in Westfield has pillows, appliquéd towels, face masks and aprons on display, while Jennifer Doser of Westfield is featuring her Relax. Rinse. Repeat. line of products, ranging from hand sanitizer sprays and room and linen sprays to a special Stress Away Rub. Also, Marie Fortin of Westfield has her jewelry designs on display.

“Masks and social distancing will be required,” said Shibley, adding that due to regulations she can have only 15 people at a time in the store.

For Dawn Whitehill, owner of the Pottery Cellar at the Mill at Crane Pond in Westfield, she has surrounded herself with things she loves – and in particular – authentic Polish pottery.

“We have a wide variety of holiday items and thousands of every day pieces,” said Whitehill.

The Pottery Cellar in Westfield features the largest selection of Ceramika Artystyczna Polish Pottery in the Northeast, as well as home decor, oils and dips. (DAWN WHITEHILL PHOTO)

Whitehill noted she will offer 20% off all of the Polish pottery on Nov. 27 which is a sale that only happens twice each year.

“The Pottery Cellar features the largest selection of Ceramika Artystyczna Polish Pottery in the Northeast as well as beautiful home decor, oils, dips and a little something for everyone,” said Whitehill. “We are also the home of The Bubble Mug Cafe where you can enjoy coffee, smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, salads and soups weekdays from 10:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.”

For details on daily specials and on occasion “curbside cuisine,” visit The Bubble Mug Cafe at Pottery Cellar on Facebook.

The Bubble Mug Cafe at Pottery Cellar is a unique feature at the Westfield business. (DAWN WHITEHILL PHOTO)

Whitehill also features several local artisans throughout the year, including Joanne Bigelow, owner of Jojo’s Rustic Remnants, and woodworker Mark Lisowski of Mark’s Wooden Creations.

“My designs typically include a great deal of farmhouse style and the use of antiques,” said Bigelow, noting she often can be found rummaging through barn sales and local marketplaces in search of antiques.

As for Lisowski, he is now focusing on the upcoming holiday crafts he wants to create, and especially enjoys creating cutting boards and cheese boards.

“I feature Mark’s products in my shop during the holiday season,” said Whitehill.

For area residents in search of locally made products this holiday season, there are a wealth of ideas on social media platforms including the latest craze – virtual holiday craft fairs – as well as many other businesses throughout the Greater Westfield area that feature local artisans, including Rosewood Home & Gifts on Elm Street, and Budsuds Soapery on School Street.

Lesley Weber Lambert, administrator for the We Love Westfield Community Forum Facebook page, also welcomes businesses to share their news during “Westfield Small Biz Saturday.” On occasion, she also features “Tout Tuesday” on the Facebook page for businesses to advertise their products and services.

“Westfield Small Biz Saturday is where small business owners can promote their offerings and everyone can see how they can support local business,” she said.

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