December 9, 2006

Pinefield Bustling on ‘Jingle Bell Day’

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.


  1. The Pinefield shopping center has seen somewhat of a rebirth in the past couple of years. Ace Hardware has been a very welcome addition as an anchor store, and Amazing Things Arts Center has been a wonderful boon to the local arts scene, and actually draws people to the area at night!

    I have been a frequent walker around the village in my seven years here, and while some businesses come and go, there's an interesting variety to check out, especially if you're on foot and not whizzing by at 30 or more MPH. Today while walking by the mill I stumbled on an art reception at the gallery within the Framed In Time store. Last weekend I went to the open studios at Saxonville Studios in the mill, and yesterday I sold some items to Wex Rex, the pop memorabilia business in the mill that I noticed while walking home from the open studios. And there's a new Mexican restaurant on Concord Street across from the mill that I'm looking forward to trying soon.

    This is not the kind of experience that you get in the vast subdivisions elsewhere in this town and others, where the nearest businesses or public spaces are miles away and only accessible by car. I consider it a great benefit to be able to walk to get my hair cut, car repaired, etc. Unfortunately too many people in our society have gotten used to getting in their car to do absolutely everything. Don't even get me started about the ones who get in their car and drive to a gym to walk on a treadmill!

  2. Yes, Amazing Things is a great addition to the neighborhood, I was very sorry to hear about their plans to move downtown (good for downtown, a loss for Saxonville).

    Saxonville is one of the more walkable suburban neighborhoods around, and one of the many things that attracted us to the area. It was great to be able to walk to the grocery store, I sorely miss that. But at least I can walk and pick up a light bulb when needed.

    There are several things that could make it even more walkable, but at least it's possible to walk to destinations, not simply walk around for exercise.

    I've noticed the new Mexican place also, hope you'll post and let us know how it is once you try it!