Written by  ,     December 14, 2010     Posted in Restaurant, The Lighter Side

The “maul” as we playfully call it, makes sense. We get it.

Grab a fistful of dollars (or plastic if you don’t mind paying “the juice”) enjoy Sinatra on the car radio while in traffic, ultimately find a space, stroll with all the other strollers, wave to Santa Bob, smell the candles and soap and Perfumania, try not to stare at the Victoria Secret window display too long, stop thinking about all the stores that have cool stuff YOU want, whittle that list down. Fill bags, and figure out “who for” later.

Gift Certificates are always a great idea!

BUT, and trust me on this one; If you want a Christmas shopping experience, much different, a “feel good” adventure, and “escape” as much as a stroll, where there will be no traffic, plenty of parking but few lines, no smell of perfume, but 143 “shops” embracing 180 artist-gift specialists, with 10 times that in gift options…Check out the SIX wondrous, creaky, uniquely sprawling floors (and the gift shop) at Western Ave Studios in Lowell. Hidden amidst smoke stacks, canals and train tracks, just finding it is fun!

A mill as a mall. Brick vs cardboard.
Made in Lowell vs Made in Taiwan.
Immense wooden beamed ceilings vs. white, cottage-cheese checkerboards, complimentary cookies and juice in many studios (or crackers and cheese) vs Chinese fast food (under the Cajun sign) and ARTISTS-the producers of the gifts-on location to-chat, explain, smile and say “thank you” in person for your appreciation and support!!

Paintings, yes. Classic, funky, and other.
But also, handmade jewelry of all kinds, hand knitted hats-mittens-scarves-sweaters, incredible hand molded and painted ceramics in all shapes and uses, beautiful glassworks, photo sessions and gift certificates (Family photos THRILL Mom), trinkets, beads, coasters with trains inside, gargoyles even. And much more. Things you cannot, will not find in the maul, those things that when you hand them to a loved one, will provide you both with the satisfaction that no one else has one. Truly unique. And personal.

There’s a cafĂ©. No Starbucks. No Dunkins. No way.

Check out the hours. They are limited. Support the local economy. Support friends and neighbors.

It feels good.

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