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Pine Straw has arrived. The Free Dictionary defines pine straw simply as “fallen pine needles, often used for mulch.” This earthy horticultural image underestimates the value of the good taste visible inside the new location of the gift and apparel store by that name that opened “softly” yesterday, September 3rd, in Waban Square.

At 9:15 yesterday morning, I noticed several moving vans at the corner of Beacon St. and Windsor Rd. and imagined that the expansion of a Wellesley business into Waban was about to occur. Peeking through the locked door, I saw a woman speaking animatedly to a gentleman and a whole slew of interesting items displayed carefully and with sophistication through the room. The two noticed me and came to the door, enabling me to meet Tracy Cranley, the owner, and a well-wishing friend. I welcomed them to Waban, told them about the Area Council (I am President, after all), invited them to our meetings, and assured them that they would be filling a retail void in the neighborhood by offering such a lovely choice of gift items. They indicated that they were having a “soft opening” at 10:00am. I went home.

But I returned at 10:10 to find Tracy and two helpers there to greet me. Several neighbors had been in already, one complaining that the Bulletin Board was gone from in front of the store, but the others happy to see the new business freshen the Square. I told Tracy that I needed a house gift for this weekend and she pleasantly spent time taking me through the various categories of gifts available. There were cookbooks, rolling pins, sachets, candles, cheeseboards fashioned from unusual materials, cheese knives, party favors, towels, jackets/blouses on a small rack and pillows among the hundreds of tasteful wares displayed. I wasn’t thinking about writing this article, so I didn’t memorize whatever I saw. I can relate, however, that I could have spent at least ½ hour in that small space and not have examined all that was offered!

I mentioned to Tracy that I like to purchase unusual, though tasteful items and that I tend to be “cheap” or at least “careful” with my cash. I found that my choices at a reasonable price point were not limited. I chose a slate board and a pear shaped candle and combined them with a box of “pine straw” matches as my house gift. For fuller wallets, there was a handmade (from recycled plastic) “02468” imprinted, soft, decorative, felt pillow. The pricing reaches a broad spectrum of buyers!

Now, I am a frequent shopper at HomeGoods, where I can also find some interesting decorative and functional discounted gifts. But, then I have to find a box to fit my gift, buy gift wrap and finish the adventure with competent and time-consuming wrapping skills. Not at Pine Straw! My purchase was wrapped as elegantly as the items deserved and they deserved the very best! The shopping bag that held my new purchase said “Pine Straw, Wellesley.”  I hope Waban will soon be displayed there, as well!

I suggest that you mosey in to browse at this new retail adventure. It won’t disappoint you.

And don’t despair or pine for the old Bulletin Board. The Waban Area Council and the Waban Improvement Society are working on bringing another outdoor center for our messages to our neighbors!