Friendly Town Socials and Sales offers eclectic mix in Orange

  • Figurines for sale at Friendly Town Socials and Sales on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Vintage items for sale at Friendly Town Socials and Sales on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Jewelry for sale at Friendly Town Socials and Sales on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Friendly Town Socials and Sales on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Crystal Parent in her store, Friendly Town Socials and Sales, on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Crystal Parent and her son, Seth Parent, in her Friendly Town Socials and Sales store on East Main Street in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/19/2022 3:57:44 PM
Modified: 5/19/2022 3:55:56 PM

ORANGE — The COVID-19 pandemic altered plans for virtually everyone, and Crystal Parent was no exception.

She had wanted to start a youth drop-in center teaching life skills at 11 East Main St., but the spread of the novel coronavirus made that unfeasible. Two years later, Parent has tweaked her idea and opened Friendly Town Socials and Sales, a hybrid second-hand store and small-group event room.

“I wanted to do the youth group and it was a great place to have it because DIAL/SELF (Youth & Community Services) is next door and back before COVID … the kids would be out here walking the streets (at) 3 o’clock in the morning, 2 o’clock in the morning and they need something to do … on a Saturday, Friday,” she said in her shop, talking about her desire to help teenagers and young adults. “So, it was a great spot to have it and I was really psyched to open up my youth center, and I was opening up … the Saturday after all the COVID restrictions went into place (in March 2020).

“When COVID hit, I just emptied out all my storage units and put them in here, because I wasn’t going to pay for storage,” she added.

Parent opened her store on Mother’s Day with a 10% discount on all purchases and event sign-ups. She plans to hold a youth career path series (including theater through puppetry, event planning and others), life skills workshops, gaming nights, support groups, craft workshops, social groups, and a “Get Your Act Together” series aimed at helping youths and adults to set and achieve goals.

Parent said 10% of the store’s profits will go toward subsidizing the programs for young people who can’t afford them.

“This is my passion, working with kids, getting them prepared … for life,” she said.

The store’s inventory is a bit of a mixed bag, carrying clothes, shoes, jewelry, batteries, VHS tapes and DVDs, and a Century Wavemaster freestanding punching bag. Parent also sells vintage PEZ dispensers, her son’s old Furbys, and items pertaining to the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake. She is a collector of merchandise from the franchise and used to make a living selling vintage toys on eBay, where she now gets much of her inventory.

Parent, 46, has rented the space for 2½ years and used it to homeschool her son during the pandemic.

“If I was paying for it, I was going to use it for storage and homeschooling all day,” she quipped.

Parent has spent most of her adulthood working in human services and education, and has served as the employment specialist at the Corporation for Public Management, where she managed a program that taught job skills, the site coordinator for the after-school program at Dexter Park Innovation School and a program aide at Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner. She has also worked in preschools and for The United Arc.

“I’ve done a zillion things,” Parent said.

She can be reached at 978-786-2063 and she maintains a Facebook page and website she was revamping as of Thursday.

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


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