Saxonville's Pinefield Shopping Center was filled with shoppers and holiday celebrants today, drawn to day-long events that included free horse-drawn hayrides, music, pictures with Santa, wine/beer/liquor tastings for the adults and more. It was wonderful to see the place bustling with people from the neighborhood and beyond, both inside various stores and outside walking from store to store. It's things like this that help neighborhood businesses compete with big-box retailers.
I tried not to think too long about how much greater this thriving neighborhood center could have been with a rebuilt branch library as its anchor overlooking the Sudbury River. Sigh. On the brighter side, the days of worrying about the loss of Lincoln Drugs and the fate of the Pinefield Shopping Center seemed a long time ago, as a steady stream of shoppers was attracted to Ace Hardware's "bucket sale." Although most people arrived at the event by auto, you could even see the occasional locals walking on the streets nearby.
The shopping center certainly has its aesthetic faults (acres of asphalt parking and no obviously welcoming walkway from sidewalk to stores; too-narrow sidewalk in front of some stores, often blocked in front of the hardware store, to name a couple). And I still miss having a grocery store there - ah, to have a small specialty grocer, a bakery/bread place, and some more healthy eating options. Nevertheless, Pinefield joins other businesses in Saxonville Center to serve as a good commercial anchor to the neighborhood - much better than would a single big-box.