The only predictable thing about the yearly changeover of some Wellesley shops and businesses is that it will happen. It’s anyone’s guess, and a somewhat popular parlor game in town, as to what will close and what will or should come in. This past year, the retail landscape’s significant changes were highlighted by the opening of yet another spot to satisfy your frozen-treat craving and the closing of a much-loved toy shop.
Yogurtology, a self-serve, premium frozen yogurt shop opened its doors in the summer, replacing White Mountain Creamery, which closed late 2014. The light, bright, sparkling clean place keeps the other options in town on their toes (Whole Foods gelato bar, Truly Yogurt, Pinkberry, JP Licks, and Baskin Robbins) and will hopefully be a good addition to the yearly Cone Crawl.
Also on the restaurant front, La Riviera Gourmet cafe at 390 Washington St., closed mid-summer, and the space remains vacant. The business, however, continues to offer catering services to some local schools and the Council on Aging.
The newest eatery in town is Pizza Peddler, which replaced Nick’s Pizza House at 263 Washington St. Owner Petro Belezos has the 8-seat shop up and running, and expects to do a brisk take-out business.
After 13 years of providing kids with fun, Little Bits Toys, an indie shop that was run by a Wellesley resident, closed it doors. Readers wrote in to tell us that they “always counted on Little Bits to have that new challenging game for a long rainy weekend,” and that the shop would be sorely missed.
Just up the road in Wellesley Square, however, Wellesley Toy Shop at 59 Central St. manages to thrive year after year, even as the owners have decided to close Wellesley Gifts next door and move the Toy Shop into that space. The shops are owned by the same family.
Recently, Wellesley Hills train station building tenants A Z Fine Arts and Jaylin Cleaners cleared out after 10 and 20 years, respectively, in that space. Almost before the last shirt was pressed, the interior of the space was gutted, perhaps reassuring those in town who expressed concern that the historic structure was a sitting duck for the bulldozer.
On the fashion front, things were busiest, from the coming and going point of view. 344 in Wellesley Square closed its doors and the space is being prepped for Starbacks to gain more elbow room. Also in the Square, Posies closed its doors and moved about 1.5 miles down the street to 77 Central St. in Natick. Women’s fashion boutiqe, Ava, took its place, owner Carlos Pava working wonders on the spot’s interior with polished concrete floors, track lighting, and gorgeous clothes with a European flair.
Ivivva, which sold girls activewear and accessories shop for a couple of years at 1 Crest Rd., lit out for the highly charted territory of the Natick Mall. The 1 Crest Rd. space remains vacant for now.
Dress and gown designer Anna Nieman, who opened a special-occasion clothing, jewelry and cosmetic boutique at 544 Washington St. in Wellesley 2 years ago closed that shop and took her talents to Newton Highlands at 21 Lincoln St. It’s uncertain what will become of that space, but for now S.Y.B. Event Planning Service has its name etched on the window. The owner of S.Y.B., who worked out of the basement of that space for a while, is uncertain if she will go ahead and take over the entire storefront, but for now having her name in such a visible spot isn’t a bad way to advertise her services.
Pop-up store Wears Woody in Wellesley Square at 50 Central St. will hang with us through the end of the year, providing shoppers with its “bold coastal style” casual clothing. I, for one, will miss the classic woody wagon they’ve kept parked in front of the store, even though it has taken up valuable Square parking.
City Sports, the running shoe and athletic goods retailer that opened at 475 Washington St. in 2011, is about to shut its Wellesley doors and all its other doors as well. They’ve been selling off their inventory at savings up to to 30%. I picked up a nice pair of mittens and some fleece-lined tights, deeply discounted, to get me through the winter.
Longtime Wellesley Square stationery store Papers & Presents, which did our business cards for us, moved out of its 87 Central St. location, though its online doors remain open. Eric Barry photography, which has been nomadic in town over the years in Barry’s quest for the perfect space, jumped right in and says that 87 Central St. is the perfect spot for him to finally settle down.
Nearby, Abigail’s, which has been at 93 Central St., in Wellesley Square for at least the past 20 years, has shut down. The store, which sold clothes and gifts for infants to pre-teens, got its start on Cape Cod when a mom with a child named Abigail wanted to dress her daughter in classic-style clothes and figured others wanted the same for their kids. I miss the creative window dressings, which were put together seasonally by local mom Priscilla Christie.
Signet Education opened its Wellesley location, at 180 Linden St., branching out beyond its Harvard Square and New York City offices. The 10-year-old business, formed by a pair of Harvard grads, offers tutoring, test prep and admissions counseling. Also, West Suburban MRI at 366 Washington St., left town. The space remains vacant.
And what would a year in Wellesley be without one bank leaving us and another scooting right in to vie for our millions? Citibank at 84 Central St. near The Gap is going out, and Webster Bank, a $24 billion regional bank, is bringing its “unique customer service” to town. I still mourn Marco Polo gift shop, gone from that space since 2006 but not forgotten by many in town.
Who says the suburbs are boring? After distilling all this coming and going, I actually feel quite dizzy with the glamour and excitement of it all.