Orange: Bates Crafters Gallery elicits a ‘Wow!’ from visitors

  • Fran Bates with a Santa at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store on New Athol Road in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Home goods and crafts at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store on New Athol Road in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Home goods and crafts at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store on New Athol Road in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Fran Bates at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store on New Athol Road in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Specialty sodas in interesting flavors available at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store on New Athol Road in Orange. The $4 novelty sodas flaunt outrageous flavors such as bacon with maple syrup, peanut butter and jelly, ranch dressing, pickle, black olive, Pimple Pop (marshmallow), enchilada, boysenberry pie, Buffalo wings, and cucumber. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Holiday items on sale at Bates Crafters Gallery and Country Store in Orange. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 11/26/2021 3:01:31 PM
Modified: 11/26/2021 3:01:40 PM

ORANGE — The popular Christmas village that took up a back room inside Bates Crafters Gallery is on hiatus this year but there’s still lots to offer holiday shoppers at 80 New Athol Road. Owners Fran and Mike Bates had to dismantle the popular attraction to make space, but say they plan to bring it back bigger and better next year.

“Our plans are, maybe, to have a barn next year — put it in the barn. It’s large, it’s large. It took up about half of a bedroom,” Fran Bates said. “It’s not as big as Yankee Candle’s by any means, but we had the ski slopes and we had the lights, and everyone loved it when they walked in. And a lot of people are coming back looking for it. And we feel horrible — we didn’t realize how popular it was, I guess.”

She said she and Mike are still ordering and receiving pieces for the village, which included a working water fountain and a couple of trains.

“So we’re still getting pieces in, because we know we’re going to have it back up next year,” Fran said.

She said last year was the Bates’ first Christmas at 80 New Athol Road, having previously been at the Hillcrest Plaza next door. Holiday shoppers stopped by to purchase jewelry, candles, little tokens, cutting boards, ornaments, and bottle openers. The shop will likely expand its hours in December, to be open an additional day (making it five per week) and staying open longer on weekends. Both Bates work full-time jobs outside the store, where they are helped by daughter Samantha Coleman.

The family plans to set up their outdoor Christmas light display — with thousands of lights and a 6-foot reindeer — in the coming weeks. Mike Bates said he and his wife would like to, in addition to the barn, start something similar to the Franklin County Festival of Trees.

“They’re just ideas,” he said, prompting Fran to chime in, “But, so was the store — just an idea at one point.”

The gallery carries the work of 98 crafters, and while many create Christmas items, very few had delivered them as of Nov. 19.

“It’s a pretty kind of eclectic collection of stuff. It’s not just primitive crafts or whatever,” Mike Bates said of the store’s typical inventory. “I would say 95 percent of everybody is within a half-hour drive of here.”

The shop carries Kringle Candles and Country Candles (made by Kringle), both of which consist of two wicks, making for a stronger scent. Some of the scents at Bates Crafters Gallery include “Peppermint Twist,” “Candy Cane Lane,” “Jingle All The Way,” “‘Twas The Night,” gingerbread latte, and sugar cookies.

The Bates also carry Christmas ornaments made by Gardner crafter Judy Pearsall, who died last year. Fran said Pearsall’s husband continues to sell his late wife’s ornaments, and a non-Christmas booth of her items is still at the store.

In a backroom are shelves to be lined with items donated by the store and its crafters for a holiday raffle. Tickets are given out for free and for money spent in the store, and the Bates expect to draw winners’ names on Facebook Live a week before Christmas.

A fridge as soon as one opens the front door and some shelves behind the cash register are lined with what could be the perfect paper weight, curiosity or gag gift — $4 novelty sodas with outrageous flavors such as bacon with maple syrup, peanut butter and jelly, ranch dressing, pickle, black olive, Pimple Pop (marshmallow), enchilada, boysenberry pie, Buffalo wings, and cucumber.

“Every once in a while, you have someone that comes through, buzzes through, and takes off. Because, most people, when they come in, they’re like, ‘Oh, OK. Wow, wow.’ We hear a lot of wows,” Mike said. “Almost anybody that walks in here walks out with — if they’re not buying anything — at least with a smile on their face. And we love that. I mean, that’s what kind of what makes it worth it.”

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


E-Edition & Local Ads


Weather


athol forecast

Most Popular


Social Media




Athol Daily News

14 Hope Street,
Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Telephone: (413) 772-0261

 

Copyright © 2021 by Newspapers of Massachusetts, Inc.