ADAMS -- The town of Adams is one of dozens of cities and towns in Western Massachusetts along the north/south Route 8 corridor. As a matter of fact, its main street, Park Street, is Route 8. The next time you're driving that road -- or biking or hiking on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail -- take some time to stop and check out some of the town's unique stores and restaurants.
Kit & Kaboodle, at the southern end of Park Street, near the junction of the Ashuwillticook Rail Rrail and Route 8, is a consignment shop for crafters -- "all hand-made here locally," owner/operator Carolyn Albert, is quick to point out. She rents space to the crafters and tends the shop when it is open.
You can't take in this shop at a quick glance. Items are shelved everywhere, and your eyes bounce from one delight to another. It takes several strolls around the shop to absorb everything. Knitted and crocheted sweaters and shawls hang from hangers, and stained-glass sun catchers gleam in the windows. Albert opens some hand-poured candles whose scents -- warm apple pie, fresh mown grass, rose and fresh brewed coffee -- are just like standing next to the real thing.
She also carries hand-painted wine glasses (which visitors can custom order), Thunderbolt Trail signs, dog leashes with matching bracelets for the owner, dog and cat toys, dog food and treats, paintings, felted mittens and hats, baby clothes, pajamas, embroidered pillows and character hats for children (including a Minion, complete with goggles, from the movie "Despicable Me," and Cabbage Patch Kids).
Moving north on Park Street, and on the same side of the street, you'll see Lynda's Antique Clothing Loft. As with Kit & Kaboodle, you don't know where to begin looking.
Beautiful, hand-sewn dresses from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, all in their original condition, hang around the store. A 1958 white wedding gown -- 17 yards of heavy white satin with Austrian crystals and a matching crown -- dominates the center of the store.
Owner Lynda Meyer, an antique-clothing dealer, historian and lecturer, opened the business seven years ago, and she said it was "the first upscale store in Adams." She promised that each article of clothing in the shop is in "tip-top shape and clean -- very pristine."
In addition to women's dresses, under-garments, hats and accessories, Meyer also carries a collection of vintage jewelry, children's clothing, men's clothing, vintage glassware, hats and bonnets and everything in between.
Next door stands the Vintage Traveler, run by Paula Landry and her husband, Chris.
"We specialize in other people's trash," Landry said, describing their creations.
They make "up-cycled" (refurbished and renovated) furniture and household items. Chip does all the restoration of the furniture pieces and Paula does all the embroidered pillows and other fabric work.
Looking around the store, it is hard at first to see what some of the pieces of furniture originally were. A lovely white wooden headboard for a bed, upon closer inspection, was once a door. And a spindle-type coffeetable, Paula explained, was once a chicken coop. A large angel sitting on a counter they created from materials discovered during the renovation of the Firehouse Café next door.
They have made dressers, bookcases, candleholders, chairs -- you name it, they have it. Paula's handmade and embroidered pillows lie scattered on the bed and many of the chairs.
"We have a constant stream of people pulling up to the back door with what they consider junk. We perform magic and turn it into something useable and unique," she said.
The store will mark its first anniversary on April 9.
After browsing, you can take the time to have lunch or dinner at the Firehouse Café, owned by William Kolis Jr. and Shane Morris, who also manages the café.
The café, for generations, was the firehouse for the Alert Hose Company, Adams' volunteer fire department. Kolis and Morris bought the building two years ago and, after renovating it, they opened the restaurant in January.
"We're doing better than we thought we would," Morris said.
He credits the café's success to its chef, Joe Henderek, who has 12 years experience as a chef.
The menu offers several salads with homemade dressings and a choice of shrimp, chicken or tofu; lighter fare, such as grilled swordfish and salmon; three-cheese sausage lasagna, all-day omelets, and more -- plus a variety of sandwiches, appetizers and a daily homemade soup. The restaurant serves beer and wine only, and has Wandering Star Craft Brewery draught beer on tap.
For those biking or walking the rail trail, the cafe has a back entrance, bike racks and a water spigot.
After enjoying the fare at the café, cross the street and wander back south to the Adams Town Hall Gallery, now displaying "Heydays of Summer Street," photos from the turn of the century to the mid-1970s.
If you go ...
What: Kit & Kaboodle
Where: 3 Park St., Adams
Open: Winter -- Sunday and Monday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Summer -- Daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Information: (413) 749-7095
What: Lynda'a Antique Clothing Loft
Where: 39 Park St. Adams
Open: Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. tp 5 p.m. and by appointment
Information: (413) 2064
What: The Vintage Travelers
Where: 43 Park St., Adams
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Information: (413) 749-7116
What: Firehouse Café
Where: 47 Park St., Adams
Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Information: (413) 749-7104 or firehouse-cafe.com