Local Small Business Stories
Crafty Yankee in Lexington, Massachusetts Goes Far Beyond Being a
Specialty Gift Shop
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
to retire. Since then, Fields has been gifted with a personal and
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
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
the Boston area. Let's take a quick, online walk around the store and
return for some more treasures later in this story...
Hand bags and accessories at the Crafty Yankee. Photo
credit: Kathy Fields.
Christmas-theme kitchen gifts at the Crafty Yankee.
The Crafty Yankee offers a wonderful children's section near the
back of the store. Photo credit:
The children's section at the Crafty Yankee also includes some
high quality clothing.
Locally crafted jewelry from the Crafty Yankee. Photo
credit: Kathy Fields.
Lexington-theme Christmas ornament from the Crafty Yankee.
Photo credit: Kathy Fields.
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.
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
is my favorite store in the whole world!"
A bench out front honors the late Mabel "Mudge" Hall, a Lexington
loved shopping at the Crafty Yankee on a regular basis...
One of the most beautiful expressions of generosity at the Crafty
Yankee comes from The
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.
Message of need on The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee.
The Giving Tree at the Crafty Yankee. Photo
credit: Kathy Fields.
"This is the 23rd year of the Giving Tree project," said Fields. "It
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...
Or White Rivers Designs Lifetime Oil Burning Fruit Bowl Theme
Oil burning candles at the Crafty Yankee. Photo
credit: Kathy Fields.
While Fields goes great lengths to locate creative types
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 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
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
Pinterest pinboards: https://www.pinterest.com/Thecraftyyankee/.
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Also be sure to read:
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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Massachusetts travel! Read
Town Greens book -- Discover New England's first travel
town commons. Includes chapters on Lexington and nearby Concord,
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