Shopping in Fitchburg

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At Pottery Paintin' Place, ceramic renderings of Darth Vader and Princess Leia join mugs, plates, and piggy banks atop a series of shelves. Visiting artists pluck one of these achromatic items from its waiting place before coating it in a colorful design and handing it off to a staff member, who fires it in the on-site kiln. Each piece of art emerges from the kiln able to withstand ovens, dishwashers, microwaves, and most apocalypses.

The shop's master potter, Brian Murphy, further encourages artistic expression with pottery-throwing courses, during which participants design their own ceramic creations. The newly expanded party area holds up to 24 painters, who can partake in refreshments brought from home during one- to two-hour celebrations. On-site summer camps and after-school programs cater to the younger crowd with tie-dyeing, glass-fusing, beading, and homework-torching.

88 Massachusetts Ave
Lunenburg,
MA
US

Bender's Mattress PhD lulls bodies to sleep on a fleet of brand-name mattresses and pillows. Taxonomize sheep atop a selection of Innomax pillows ($17+) or avoid cricks with a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow ($89). Customers no longer content to swaddle themselves in tinfoil at bedtime can try the Classic full ($199) or Caress twin ($199) mattresses. Memory foam mattresses ($339+) conform to individual bodily impressions, and specific Tempur-Pedic mattresses ($1,299+) earned an ease-of-use commendation by the Arthritis Foundation and ranked a Consumers Digest Best Buy.

18 Main St
Townsend,
MA
US

The wireless provider industry changes quickly, but Arch Telecom keeps up by giving both technicians and front-line employees continual training. The extra effort shows: enthusiastic testimonials from clients cite employees' patient technical support for two seniors who were far from tech-savvy, as well as a staffer staying well beyond closing time to ensure a business's new phone lines were set up properly.

30 John Fitch Highway
Fitchburg,
MA
US

The word ?bead? has multiple meanings at Bead Fiesta The Shoppe. It can mean?among other things?tiny seed beads, handmade glass beads, wooden beads, pearls, crystals, gemstones, and silver trinkets. The shop also stocks jewelry-making supplies, which are now considered highly valuable to pirates. To complement its wares, the venue hosts a variety of jewelry-making classes, on topics from working with precious metal clay to forging accessories from ice resin.

15 Waushacum Ave
Sterling,
MA
US

The rigid heddle loom is a relatively simple machine. Jennifer Baum, The Weaving Shed's owner and a juried fiber artist, likes it because a beginning student can set it up and start a scarf within 45 minutes. Along with the loom's simplicity, Jen appreciates the therapeutic value of its rhythmic, back-and-forth cadence. As students work the loom to steadily pull fiber threads into a hand-woven item, they also shed the stress of their day. Jen sees these transformations—both in the progress of the project and the demeanor of the student—as she guides the technique and lends tips to the up to eight students that attend each class in the newly-expanded studio.

Along with classes, The Weaving Shed also spearheads a Farm to Yarn program with local farms. The natural or hand-dyed sheep's wool or alpaca fleece becomes a sustainable, specialty fiber for weaving, knitting, felting, crotchet, and spinning projects. This interest in cultivating local fibers hits especially close to Jen's home, AKA Sunny Knoll Farm, where, with her husband and children, she helps raise an ever-growing alpaca herd. She describes the alpaca as a very "zen-lifestyle animal," even though scientific journals refer to them as "respiring shag carpets." Along with laughing at the "fun family adventure" that the experience has been, she also praises the hypoallergenic qualities of the fleece and its 22 naturally occurring colors.

15 Waushacum Avenue
Sterling,
MA
US

Inspired by her passion for creating decadent treats for her friends and family, baker Gloria Casta?o opened Sweet Creations by Gloria as a way to share her signature desserts with others. From these modest beginnings, her bakery has risen in popularity and earned local renown for its made-from-scratch cakes and pastries. Though Gloria?s specialty lies in traditional Hispanic confections, she can just as easily recreate recipes from other cultures or accommodate dietary restrictions with vegan and gluten-free ingredients. A frequent shopper at the local farmers' market, Gloria fills her customizable cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops with fresh fruit whenever possible and slathers buttercream icing on bland stalks of broccoli.

5 West Street
Leominster,
MA
US

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