Apr 2, 2009
Boston Gift Show Announces 2009 Pride of New England Award Winners

Atlanta, GA – The Boston Gift Show has announced four winners for the 4th annual Pride of New England Awards, a coveted honor that recognizes New England retailers for outstanding customer service, creative merchandising, community involvement and demonstration of New England pride. The four winners were announced during a reception on Saturday, March 28, 2009, at the Boston Gift Show, which ran March 28-31, 2009 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.

The 2009 winners were:

  • Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill, Boston, MA
  • The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange, Old Lyme, CT
  • Mason & Madison, Middleton, MA
  • Pauline’s Gifts, Gloucester, MA

Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill opened in July of 1982, and Jennifer Hill and Mark Duffield are the 3rd set of owners, having taking over in April of 2006. Over the years, the store has gained a reputation for unique and distinctive gifts for local residents and visitors from around the globe. This store’s customer service philosophy is all about a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. From special orders and hand delivery to gift wrapping, evening shopping hours right down to the store’s convenient layout, the customer’s experience is always foremost.

From a merchandising standpoint, this store focuses on appealing to both its local neighbors and visitors from around the world, with special emphasis on American-made products, especially locally made New England products.

The store also plays an active role in the local community. Since opening its doors, the store has supported organizations ranging from Boston Children’s Hospital and the Maine Breast Cancer Foundation to Special Olympics Massachusetts and WGBH. Last year, their third annual 12-days of Christmas Celebration helped provide holiday gifts for those in need while also generating funds for the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

New England Pride is especially strong with a wide range of local artisans products, local authors and local artists all featured prominently.

The Lyme Tree Woman’s Exchange opened in 1986 as part of a larger non-profit movement begun in Pennsylvania in 1839 as a way to give handcrafters a place to market their goods. Today, it is operated solely by a volunteer Board of Directors and group of dedicated volunteers who serve as customers. After expenses, all proceeds are donated to area charities.

Here, they define customer service as making their visitors feel welcome, helping them find solutions when needed, leaving them alone to browse when they need space . They also provide complimentary gift wrap, special monogrammed and personalized items and offer special discounts for those purchasing for charitable causes.

When it comes to merchandising, the Board’s members and volunteers bring a broad range of life and work experience to the shop that shows in the décor.

In the community, each year their Grants Committee does diligent research and presents to the Board a list of area charitable organizations in greatest need of funds. Among the groups they’ve supported include Domestic Violence Valley Shore Services, Senior Meals on Wheels and others.

New England pride is evident throughout the store, with a wide array of products. They also focus on items of specific interest to their “summer people” who vacation here.

Mason & Madison was launched by Liz White in 2003 as a web business with word of mouth referrals. By January of 2009, a full-fledged brick and mortar store opened its doors. Here, old fashioned customer service is the name of the game – greeting customers by name, suggestive selling, sending handwritten thank-you cards after sales, complimentary coffee, treats for little ones and free gift wrapping are all standard fare.

The store is merchandised by product categories – women, men, children, baby and others. Signage and window displays are also a key part of the merchandising plan.

The store also donates gift baskets to local charities and organizations, including Friends of the Boxford Town Libraries, Strongest Link AIDS Services Inc. and the United Way,

When it comes to New England Pride, Mason & Madison features a wide array of local products and also offers exhibit space in the store for local artisans and stay-at-home moms that create one-of-a-kind handmade items. Boston-themed and New England Sports Team themed gift baskets are also part of the mix.

Pauline’s Gifts opened in 1999, when Pauline Bresnahan and her husband took a run down second hand store and changed it into a beautiful retail gift shop. Beyond the tangible amenities like free parking, gift wrap, frequent buyer perks, candy on the counter, baby holding and plenty of seating, they approach every day as an opportunity to make friends.

Brightly colored decorative and American flags outside beckon visitors to come in and see the clean, well-stocked shelves of hand-painted items, colorful painted glass items, a nautical themed Christmas tree and much more.

Public education has been a key area of community support for this retailer, whose own children went to public school. From volunteering to fundraising with a percentage of weekly sales going to a middle school PTO and more, they’ve always looked for ways to help the school system.

To this store owner, New England pride is about the names and faces of the locals, long-distance visitors or anyone she meets at the show. Pauline has so many wonderful stories about customers and friends she has made over the years that truly evoke New England Pride.

The 162nd edition of the Boston Gift Show is scheduled for March 21-24, 2010 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. For more information, visit www.bostongiftshow.com. The show is managed by Urban Expositions – www.urban-expo.com.


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