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Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Massachusetts Goes Far Beyond Being a Specialty Gift Shop

Crafty Yankee specialty gift shop in historic Lexington, Massachusetts.

Crafty Yankee, Lexington.

Article and photos, unless otherwise noted, by Eric Hurwitz. Article created on 11/4/17.

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The Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Mass., can best be described as a giving and gifted gift shop.

Far beyond a store just selling specialty gifts, the Crafty Yankee prioritizes giving back to the community, showcasing local artisans' work that deserves to be seen, and connecting with customers.

Kathy Fields, a former department store executive, took control of her career and quality of life by moving to Lexington many years ago. She married long-time friend and Lexington resident Richard Fields, and purchased The Crafty Yankee in 1994 from long-time owners wanting to retire. Since then, Fields has been gifted with a personal and professional life that she would do all over again if given the choice. Customers from near and far are glad for that, as the Crafty Yankee has not only evolved into a cornerstone business landmark at 1838 Mass. Ave. in downtown Lexington, but also a retail tourist attraction where visitors return year after year. It is a classic New England gift shop that one could only experience in this region of the country, as the myriad unqiue gifts have a clear New England flair.

The Crafty Yankee also has an ideal location virtually right across the street from the historic Lexington Battle Green and Lexington Minuteman Statue -- must-sees when visiting Lexington...

Lexington Minuteman, Lexington, Mass.
Lexington Minuteman Statue in Lexington.

Replacing the fast-paced New York City lifestyle for the small town wonders of Lexington allowed Fields time to create a store with substance to go along with style every step of the way, and a beauty going beyond the attractive look of, for starters, artisan jewelry, bags and accessories, art glass, pottery, home accents, table settings, greeting cards, toys and children's books, baby and commemorative gifts and oil burning candles. It's a fabulous destination for Christmas holiday shopping, or finding functional, unique gifts any other time of the year. From front to back, the store is a visual delight -- a wonderful, memorable experience with merchandise made in the United States and often right from the Boston area. Let's take a quick, online walk around the store and then return for some more treasures later in this story...

Clothing from the Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Mass.
Hand bags and accessories at the Crafty Yankee. Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

Christmas gifts from the Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.
Christmas-theme kitchen gifts at the Crafty Yankee.


Kids section at Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.
The Crafty Yankee offers a wonderful children's section near the back of the store.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

Kids clothing from the Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA
The children's section at the Crafty Yankee also includes some high quality clothing.

Jewelry from Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.
Locally crafted jewelry from the Crafty Yankee.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

Lexington Minuteman orament from the Crafty Yankee gift shop on Lexington MA.
Lexington-theme Christmas ornament from the Crafty Yankee.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

Locally crafted bowl available at the Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.
Beautiful wood bowl at the Crafty Yankee.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

With manager Sandi Simon, Karen Shea and several more employees playing major roles in helping Fields create a magical shopping experience, the genuine focus on customer, craftspeople and community creates that connectivity that is virtually impossible to find in a big box, chain store world -- and many
mom and pop shops, as well.

"Shoppers want connectivity," said Fields. "It is like therapy here for customers where they can touch, explore, learn. "We listen and offer advice on what might make a good gift, but never overwhelm customers by following them around. We want them to enjoy the store and make their own discoveries."

Kathy Fields, proprietor of Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Mass.
Kathy Fields, proprietor of Crafty Yankee.

Karen Shea and Sandi Simon at the Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.
Karen Shea and Sandi Simon at the Crafty Yankee. Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

Local customers comprise a large part of the Crafty Yankee's success, but a significant number of tourists from all over the country feel that connection, too -- and with a gratitude and love for the store that goes beyond just words. Julie, a customer from Michigan, told Kathy that she loved the Crafty Yankee so much that her husband had a local Rochester, Mich., bakery create a birthday cake for her 50th birthday with the Crafty Yankee on the cake (taken from a photo of the front of the store).

"At that time, I was going through a rough time with two sick parents and I was running in many directions," said Julie from a testimonial on the Crafty Yankee web site. "He knew this cake would make my day since it is my favorite store in the whole world!"

A bench out front honors the late Mabel "Mudge" Hall, a Lexington resident who loved shopping at the Crafty Yankee on a regular basis...

Bench out front Crafty Yankee honors Mudge Hall who loved shopping at the long-time Lexington gift store.

Bench outside Crafty Yankee in Lexington honors the late Mudge Hall.

One of the most beautiful expressions of generosity at the Crafty Yankee comes from The Giving Tree, in partnership with Minuteman Senior Services. This annual Christmas holiday tree set up in the store gives back to seniors in the community as customers find names of seniors and their messages on the tree, and then buy gift cards wrapped in a box for them.

The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee gift shop in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Message of need on The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee.

The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Mass., helps seniors in need.
The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

"This is the 23rd year of the Giving Tree project," said Fields. "It can be a lonely time of the year for some people. The generosity is amazing. We are a very close-knit, caring community and people are happy to give."  Fields also partners with other charities including The Jimmy Fund through Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Friends of Mel Foundation, and Chavez for Charity.

That giving nature also takes place in the form of Fields finding the best local artists and crafters who might not be household names, but, in many cases should be. A shining example: Jill O'Reilly, a Lexington resident and silversmith inspired by stone walls...

Jewelry inspired by stone walls available at the Crafty Yankee in Lexington MA.

Or White Rivers Designs Lifetime Oil Burning Fruit Bowl Theme Candles....
Gifts from the Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Massachusetts.
Oil burning candles at the Crafty Yankee. Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

While Fields goes great lengths to locate creative types whose works deserve to be seen, appreciated and bought, she also features some products from well-known businesses like Kringle Candle, out of Bernardston, Mass., Plush Pumpkins in St. Paul, Minn., and Simon Pearce in Vermont. The higher profile merchandise, however, is well-chosen with only quality companies featured in the store. It's like the best of both worlds: creative gems from underrated talents and time-tested creations from well-known companies that have high standards.
No cheap trinkets and souvenirs here!

Plush Pumpkins products at the Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Mass.
Plush Pumpkins at the Crafty Yankee. Photo credit: Kathy Fields.

The Crafty Yankee ultimately proves that the retail world of yesteryear got it right the first time. There's something so special and timeless about a locally-owned and operated gift store whose staff and employees love their work, treat customers like family and go great lengths to find the right gifts for them. Kathy, Sandi and Karen have also resuscitated the art of conversation in the retail world -- a fleeting entity in a high tech, social media, texting world -- by getting to know their customers with an authenticity that is simply heartwarming.

Add the generous dose of philanthropy, a love for the local artist, pride of store ownership and great eye for what makes an outstanding gift, and you have a store that you might have thought was gone forever, but thankfully never went away. That is the Crafty Yankee, and Kathy Fields has created this store that is clearly a retail masterpiece.

The Crafty Yankee is located at 1838 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington MA. Web site: http://www.craftyyankee.com. Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/CraftyYankee/. Twitter page: https://twitter.com/craftyyankee. Pinterest pinboards: https://www.pinterest.com/Thecraftyyankee/. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/craftyyankee/

Also be sure to read:
Finding Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House and a five-course meal in the middle of the New Hampshire woods.

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Explore Massachusetts travel! Read the Massachusetts Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel attractions: town commons. Includes chapters on Lexington and nearby Concord, Bedford, Waltham and Winchester!

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