TNT Co-op opens its doors in Athol

Ted Lappas and Tony Alario, owners of TNT Co-op Mall at 423 Main St. in downtown Athol. The business, which opens its doors on Tuesday, will feature a variety of items made by local vendors.

Ted Lappas and Tony Alario, owners of TNT Co-op Mall at 423 Main St. in downtown Athol. The business, which opens its doors on Tuesday, will feature a variety of items made by local vendors. PHOTO BY GREG VINE

By GREG VINE

For the Athol Daily News

Published: 03-04-2024 5:00 PM

ATHOL – Those looking for a unique gift for that special friend or loved one may find it at the TNT Co-op Mall in downtown Athol.

Business partners Tony Alario and Tedd Lappas have been working since the start of the new year to get their storefront at 423 Main St. ready for vendors and customers. The doors of the co-op will officially open at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 5. Visitors to TNT will find a wide variety of artisans and vendors dealing in collectibles, antiques, vintage items and consignments.

“The whole vibe behind this is trying to prove you can go for your dreams,” Alario said. “I’ve been wanting to do something like this for a long time. Antiques and collectibles are my passion. And I wanted to show people you don’t need big banks and corporations to help you succeed.”

The interior is neatly divided into dozens of spaces for vendors. Alario said that so far, about 30 vendors have signed up to join the co-op.

In addition to antiques and collectibles, some TNT vendors will also be offering local sealed food items, maple syrup, honey, jams and more. Among the vendors who have signed up, Alario cited Blessed Co. by AG, The Rustic Nook, Clark Junk, Lady’s Mantles Gardens, Summer Beez, and Straight Away Records. A vintage juke box has been installed at the rear of the store, along with some vintage video games.

Lappas said he and Alario met one another through “the friend of a friend” and found they had a common interest in starting a business like TNT. Lappas, who lives in Maynard, explained that he has had some business experience, having owned and operated several pizza places in Leominster and Fitchburg. Alario, who resides in Ashburnham, has been a firefighter for 24 years, most recently as a member of the Gardner Fire Department.

Despite the difference in backgrounds, the two men decided their shared interest in antiques and collectibles, along with a desire to run a business, made the decision to work together on this project an easy one. Both have been working hard to get the Main Street space ready. Lappas said that the vision was Tony’s.

“We really want this to be a community business. We plan on being very involved in the life of the community, and we’ll be holding raffles and other events throughout the year to raise money for local organizations,” Alario said. “We really like the things that happen in downtown, like the River Rat Race, the Fall Festival, and the Fourth Fridays and we want to be a part of it all.”

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Alario had nothing but compliments for the cooperation he and Lappas have received from the town of Athol.

“They have been absolutely amazing to work with,” Alario said. “There have been no issues at all. I really want to thank the town for how helpful everyone has been.”

While this week’s debut was a soft opening, said Alario, a grand opening event will take place in the near future. He hopes to involve the town and other Main Street businesses in the event. Alario also thanked Vinian Luo, Taylor Made Graphics of Fitchburg, Highered Hand of Ashby and neighboring Main Street businesses.

TNT’s hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Vendors interested in securing space can reach Alario and Lappas at TNTCoopMall@gmail.com or by calling (978) 830-0189.

Greg Vine can be reached at gvineadn@gmail.com.