Chamber News

October 16, 2020 Likes Comments

My feet have been waiting months for this

For those of us Zooming all day, shoes haven’t been a big priority.

Still, I’m long overdue to replace the walking shoes I lace up for the late night walks I've been taking since March right after I finish writing this email newsletter.
Lucky for me – and all of us – we have two independent shoe stores in our market; a segment of the apparel industry that’s been on the endangered list even before the pandemic.
There’s Michelson’s Shoes, a 100-year-old family run business in Needham, with another store in Lexington.
And there’s The Barn Family Shoe Store, also family-owned, that’s been in operation for nearly 70 years.
Next week, the Barn makes its long-anticipated move to its new home at Trio in Newtonville, less than a mile east on Washington Street from its former location in West Newton.
The move to Trio is noteworthy in many ways. The mixed-use project from Mark Development was the focal point of a heated approval battle and neighborhood opposition back in 2017.
But rather than destroying the character of Newtonville, as some worried, the project will bring new life and customers to the village; with arts programing from the New Arts Center, plus Clover Food Lab, Fuji (Japanese cuisine), CVS and a new restaurant by award-winning chef Douglass Williams on the way.
The Barn’s new 8,500 square foot space will have an entrance connecting to a landscaped plaza adjacent to Washington Street and another doorway facing Walnut Street.
“I am so pleased that our iconic family-owned shoe store, has found a new home right down Washington Street at Trio Newton in Newtonville,” said Mayor Ruthanne Fuller. “The Barn is a wonderful exemplar of independently-owned and operated businesses that add to the uniqueness and warmth of Newton’s villages.”
Surviving as an independent retailer during a pandemic is an accomplishment in of itself. Congratulations to Joe, Cindy and Brendan Carrigan and everyone on the Barn team for getting through these extraordinary times and completing your move.
I'll be over Monday to pick out my new shoes.
Charlie wants us back on the MBTA
Here’s something Gov. Charlie Baker wants people to know is safe: Riding the T.
“I’ve ridden the T since the pandemic and I believe it’s safe,” Baker said at a State House press conference this week. “There’s plenty of distance.”
Ridership on all of the MBTA’s services is down, notes Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth. Green Line ridership is the lowest in the subway system: Only 19 percent of pre-COVID levels. The Red Line is only slightly better at about 21 percent. Bus service is the highest; about 40 to 50 percent of pre-COVID levels depending on the route.
“Honestly, I can’t think of a less risky activity. There’s not a lot of talking,” Baker said. “There is certainly not a lot of yelling. There’s very little engagement. Most people have their headphones on and are looking down at their phones.”
Wellesley finally gets a CVS COVID test site
Remember back in May when CVS backed off of plans to open a drive-through COVID test site at Linden Square after town officials and some abutters voiced concerns about traffic?
This week, the chain began offering a drive through self-swab tests at the Route 9 CVS at no cost to individuals meeting CDC criteria, according to the Swellesley Report. Patients must register in advance at to schedule a drive-thru window appointment.
Watertown awards third and final marijuana shop
Sira Naturals became the third and final recreational marijuana dispensary to receive a host community agreement in Watertown, Watertown News reports. The retail shop would be located at 48 North Beacon St.
Natural Selections at 23 Elm St. and Bud’s Goods & Provisions at 330-350 Pleasant St. have also been approved but have yet to open.
Sira operates a medical marijuana facility in Needham.
Today’s three bullet points
  • The IRS announced that PPP forgiveness amounts are not to be included in a borrower’s gross income for federal income tax purposes, and lenders should not issue a 1099 to borrowers for the PPP forgiveness amount. Still unresolved are the tax problems forgiveness may create for businesses in Massachusetts and other states.
  • A reminder about the chamber’s Shop Local Market directory, featuring gift ideas and locally branded items from chamber members, curated by our local merchants. Browse here to look for client or employee appreciation gifts, welcome gifts, teacher gifts - or something to just treat yourself - while supporting local. If you’re a chamber member and would like to list one or more of your locally themed items email Tiffany Chen for assistance.
Workers car pooling seen as a source of spread
As noted earlier this week, Massachusetts, unlike some other states, does not release infection data by industry.
But thanks to a public records request, Boston Business Journal’s Greg Ryan recently received some data from the state that provides a little insight.
The reports showed that food manufacturers and distributors (most notably a Cumberland Farms’ distribution center in Westborough and a Gourmet Specialty Foods’ plant in North Andover) appear to have suffered a higher number of Covid-19 outbreaks in recent weeks than other types of businesses.
The next-most common industries were other types of manufacturers and warehouses,
But notes Ryan: “For some of the largest Covid-19 workplace clusters, the outbreak does not seem to have been caused by conditions within the facilities, but rather employees carpooling to work or socializing outside of work...While the risks of dining at restaurants have received lots of attention, only one restaurant is in the database, and that establishment was linked to just two cases.
The findings speak to a need to be investing more, not less, in transportation to get our blue collar workers to their jobs.
Ooh, that smell
Is there a meat lover in your life who has been lax about wearing a face mask, or fails to pull it all the way up over their nose?
Maybe they need a bacon-scented mask.
While it’s hard to believe this isn’t a hoax, or at least a story from the Onion, Hormel Foods has reportedly develop a bacon-scented face mask.
The limited edition, “Hormel Black Label Breathable Bacon” features the latest in pork-scented technology "to keep the delicious smell of bacon always wrapped around your nose and mouth."
Get one from now until Oct. 28 at
Be back Tuesday. Take good care.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
P.S. Thanks to Doug Bank at the BBJ for the shout out this morning about our Keep Making Memories contest in his " Five Things You Need to Know Today" newsletter.
And a reminder to you to include the #KeepMakingMemoriesContest hashtag in your Instagram and Twitter post when you dine locally this weekend. Details here.


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