Turners Falls shops Flourish, Stenhouse merge

  • Two Birds co-owners Erin Wilensky, front, and Alison Williams at the new store on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Two Birds co-owners Erin Wilensky, left, and Alison Williams at the new store on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Two Birds opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Two Birds co-owners Erin Wilensky, right, and Alison Williams at the new store on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Two Birds co-owners Erin Wilensky, left, and Alison Williams at the new store on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Items for sale at Two Birds that opened recently on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Two Birds co-owners Erin Wilensky, front, and Alison Williams at the new store on Avenue A in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/26/2019 7:46:03 PM

MONTAGUE — Two Birds, which opened last weekend at 106 Avenue A, isn’t exactly a new store. Instead, it’s a merger of Stenhouse, which was in the space previously, and Flourish, which was two doors up the street at 102 Avenue A.

In most ways, Two Birds will be a continuation of the previous two stores. Alison Williams and Erin Wilensky, respectively the former owners of Flourish and Stenhouse, are co-owners of the new store (the “two birds” of the store’s name, Wilensky said). And the goods for sale are the same, including Williams’ designed clothes, Wilensky’s furnishings and home goods, and their selections of other artisan goods, art and jewelry.

The difference is in how this setup will allow them to interact with and support the larger business community of Turners Falls, and to pursue their personal creative work.

Williams and Wilensky both started their businesses within the last two years. Wilensky’s Stenhouse came first. About a year ago, Williams was considering selling her clothes through Stenhouse, but when the space up the street opened, she decided to start her own store instead.

In that time, they’ve seen major turnover in the business landscape. Just on their block on Avenue A, almost every storefront except for Mystic Pinball has changed, Wilensky noted.

At the same time, there’s been a group effort on the part of businesspeople in town to make a more coherent business community and to improve Turners Falls’ reputation as a destination for shoppers, by helping to coordinate events like Cider Days, the Great Falls Festival and It’s a Wonderful Night in Turners Falls, Williams and Wilensky said.

“Definitely Turners Falls is getting discovered,” Williams said. “There are a lot of people coming in and being like, ‘I’ve never been here before, this is so beautiful.’”

The idea is that more foot traffic will make the town better for businesses, and snowball into an economically healthier community for everyone, the two explained.

“How do you see a community grow and keep its fundamental grittiness?” Williams said. “That’s something we (local business owners) talk about a lot.”

Yet, both Williams and Wilensky, whose businesses are not just storefronts but also involve creative craft work, found that running a retail store was especially time-consuming when balanced with the other aspects of what they do. Merging their stores allows them to share the work involved with retail, which will create more time for their creative work, they said.

It also allows them to maintain the connections with customers and community involvement that comes with running a store in Turners Falls, which they wouldn’t get by selling through someone else’s store, or by moving to different locations, they said.

“Turners feels like it has a creative vibrancy that is unique,” Wilensky said.

“We’re really committed to being here,” Williams added.

Two Birds is open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 261.




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