T3F offers tastes of new local businesses
Rich Becker, left, who has opened River Station on Third St in Turners Falls talks with local artist Susan Blauner who is doing art in his new venue during the Third Thursday Event.
Ted and Alice Armen of Montgue Center walk with Aster along Third St past new artwork on Third Thursday Event in Turners Falls.
TURNERS FALLS — The third Third Thursday Turners Falls, or T3F, brought out a moderate crowd, according to downtown business owners and gave several as-yet-unopened establishments a chance to temporarily open their doors.
In the case of River Station, owner Rich Becker of Boston opened his doors for door painting.
The former auto garage by Unity Park on Third Street, which was until recently stone sculptor Tim de Christopher’s studio, is presently empty, but Becker invited artist Susan Blauner to demonstrate her art.
Blauner uses abandoned doors as canvases for her abstract paintings because, she said, they’re free.
Blauner got involved because she had heard Becker was opening art studios and stopped by to express interest. It turned out he wasn’t, but he called her later looking for an artist to demonstrate for the evening.
Blauner said she had never painted in front of people before, and was gratified by the reactions of visitors, particularly that of a woman who told her one door reminded her of her childhood.
“I’ve just been doing this alone in my studio, so to hear somebody’s response to it was really validating,” Blauner said.
Becker plans a late October opening and didn’t have anything to display himself, but intends to open a combination thrift shop/clothing store and pop-up shop. At least initially, he plans to open the shop on weekends and for the village’s many downtown events, and hopes to take the place of the Avenue A holiday pop-up shop that began and ended last winter after the storefront became unavailable.
The third Thursday program, which began in June, is an initiative of village booster organization Turners Falls RiverCulture. Like the pop-up shop, also backed by RiverCulture, the Third Thursday program is intended partly as a forum for artists and other potential small business owners to test the waters of the local market, as well as a means of drawing people into the downtown shops and restaurants.
“It’s still building but the signs are really nice,” said organizer Sarah Doyle.
Doyle said 13 businesses participated. Participation came in the form of staying open late, contributing prizes to be raffled off to people who completed their treasure hunt checklists, hosting artists and others.
Another Third Street business on the verge of realization, the Great Falls Harvest restaurant, opened for the evening with cheesecake samples.
Proprietor Christopher Menegoni of Turners Falls plans to definitively open the restaurant Sept. 19, the date of the next Third Thursday.
Menegoni has already briefly opened his doors for the Turners Falls Block Party last Saturday and the Upper Valley Music Festival in July, and said he hasn’t seen anything to discourage him.
At the corner of Avenue A and Third Street, the two latest additions to the downtown reported slow nights.
Funk*Shun owner Christa Snyder said her shop didn’t see many sales, but did have a lot of foot traffic and reasoned this might translate into return visits.
Rodney Madison, owner of Madison on the Avenue, echoed other shop owners in saying turnout seemed a little low this time around, and guessed this was the result of from following too closely on the heels of the previous weekend’s Block Party.
Madison said he didn’t try to do anything special this time around, but the events have gone well on the whole. Last month, to fit the musical theme, he brought in a South African musician and stayed open past midnight.
This month’s theme was treasure, and treasure hunt cards sent participants from shop to shop to identify objects hinted at in riddles.
By 8 p.m., most shops were empty and closing as downtown walkers gravitated to Peskeomskut Park for the Shea Theater’s outdoor screening of “Muppet Treasure Island.”
You can reach Chris Curtis at:
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