the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop - VisitingNewEngland small business
Happy Hometown Place: From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop in Ayer,
From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop. Photo credit: Valeri Delcore.
Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article
created on 11/18/17.
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The greatest gift Valeri Delcore could have given the town of
Ayer, Mass., was her From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
A former nurse looking for a meaningful career change after more than
20 years in the medical field, Delcore opened her gift shop in 2014 in
the charming, historic revitalized downtown Ayer district with her
store soon becoming a retail cornerstone business. From the bright
yellow chairs outside to the something-for-everyone mix of gifts,
cards, candles, home decor, and local and New England region merchandise inside, From the Heart
of Ayer Gift Shop immediately feels likable, friendly and welcoming
while offering an impressive variety full of functional and often fun
gifts in the sunny, upbeat 2,400 square feet storefront.
It's truly a happy place, and Valeri's love for the business can even
be traced to her last name, which means "From the Heart" in
Valeri Delcore, owner of From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
Once common in most towns with established downtowns, this type of gift
shop eventually gave way to more high-end, expensive, museum-like
stores with less heart, overly expensive gifts and more pretentious
attitudes. From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop, on the other hand,
possesses more of a working class, sense of community-like retail store
with no new age music playing in the background and a lack of, say,
metaphysical products. It is also the opposite shopping experience of
that at a chain store, and Valeri humorously confirms that sentiment
with a sign in the store that states, "FRIENDS don't let friends SHOP @
CHAIN stores!" That small business declaration of independence can be
seen in Valeri knowing her customers and they knowing her, the
thoughtful selection of unique gifts, and an affinity for the region --
including historical items displayed, retro U.S. Army Fort Devens
installation postcards for
sale, and local honey creatively named Let It Bee (a play on words of
The Beatles classic hit from, gasp, 1970!).
Let It Bee honey products at From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
Valeri, a Beverly, Mass., native, clearly loves small town life in
Ayer, her business, customers and gift selection. She genuinely looks
forward to coming to work every day.
"I love it here," said Valeri. "Every day when I come in here, I say,
'Good morning, store!'"
The From the Heart of Ayer resides in a historic 1940s building with
many businesses having taken up shop here through the years. Before
From the Heart of Ayer opened, Kelly's Hallmark Gift Shop did business
here. Valeri changed the standardized look of that store by creating
big picture windows (with the store's latitude and longitude
displayed above) overlooking the pulse of the refreshed, small town New England downtown and by
brightening up the place with teal, yellow and gray colors while
proudly giving some sign space to Ayer.
Big picture window, wide variety of gifts and love of
small town at From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
From the Heart of Ayer features a bright, positive shopping
She also took out the carpets. Valeri replaced the rugs with her
own practical, innovative stamp on it -- an extension, no doubt,
creative streak in such endeavors as painting,
photography and home decor.
"I wanted the floor to have that old look, but not have it cost a
fortune," said Valeri. "So, I went to Home Depot, bought some plywood,
had it cut into eight-inch strips, and stained and varnished it. The
floors look great!"
Turning plywood into a fabulous floor at From the Heart of
Ayer Gift Shop.
Walking on what might be the best plywood floors in Massachusetts, it's
hard to know where to actually step first. There is just so much
variety here. A quick look around the store reveals an excellent
selection of recycled greeting cards, art from local artists,
stationary, old -fashioned candies, toys, craft work, candles, sports
gifts, tea and tea pots, jewelry, pet accessories, balloons, and even
cold drinks and snacks. One of the more popular section centers on tea
and the great Tao of Teas products...
Tea section at From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
It's a place where well-known products like Yankee Candles, Willow
Tree, Hallmark, Papyrus, and Secret Jewels Candles (each candle has a
piece of jewelry inside valued between $10 and $200!) share space with
a much-needed dose of patriotism (Valeri and John are U.S. Army
Secret Jewels Candles.
Patriotic gifts at From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop also features a motorcycle-theme area (Valeri
and John ride bikes), as well as merchandise featuring photos taken by
Gifts with a motorcycle theme at From the Heart of Ayer.
2018 Ayer calendar featuring photos by Valeri Delcore, owner of
From the heart of Ayer Gift Shop.
From the Heart of Ayer offers a festive experience year-round, but
especially during the Christmas season. The 2017 holiday season is no
exception as its Annual Open House takes place on Fri. Dec. 1 and Sat.
Dec. 2 from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with refreshments, free gifts, raffles and
Holiday time at From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop in Ayer.
It's a beautiful place to be during the most wonderful time of the
Christmas season at From the Heart Gift Shop. Photo credit:
The creative flair, traditional gifts, and heartfelt, sincere odes to a
close-knit small town, a strong military, patriotism and ultimately the
beauty of shopping local help make From the Heart Gift Shop a treasure
within a treasure of a town steeped in military, industrial and working
class roots. And, oh, on the way out, some old-fashioned candy makes
the shopping experience even that more sweet.
Old fashioned candy at From the Heart Gift Shop.
Valeri believes in her business and that can be seen in many forms,
including this good-natured sign...
Funny welcoming sign at From the Heart Gift Shop.
The customers seem to love the store, too. Locals, of course, but
also those from around the world, as evidenced by this map...
Valeri has that rare mix of not taking things too seriously, but, at
same time, taking things very
seriously. Her sense of humor combined with the compassion of a
nurse (which, as mentioned, she was in a previous career) and the savvy
sense of a successful business person have no doubt served as
invaluable elements in the likability factor of From the Heart of Ayer
Gift Shop. It is heartwarming to see such a local business do so well.
It is also heartwarming to see downtown Ayer make such a strong
comeback after nearly becoming a ghost town after Fort Devens' closure
in 1996 (for the record, there is a smaller military contingent proudly
serving there). That Valeri would be part of an evolving downtown
revitalization by opening a wonderful little gift shop is truly a gift!
From the Heart of Ayer Gift Shop is located at 61 Main St., Ayer MA.
Tel. (978) 772-2571. Web site: http://www.fromtheheartofayer.com.
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/fromtheheartofayer/
Also be sure to read:
A former nurse
opens up an amazing pie shop in Walpole, Mass.
Pizza Restaurant: an old school gem in Ayer, Mass.
Run Restaurant still making history in Shirley, Mass.
Massachusetts travel! Read
Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel
town commons. Includes chapters on nearby Shirley, Harvard, Groton,
Fitchburg, Leominster, Princeton and Templeton!
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