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Dispatch From Upper Falls: Where's the Cinnabon?

Newton's lesser known mall

Newton’s Lesser Known Mall - You won’t find a food court.  There’s no Apple Store, no Sunglass Hut, no Nordstrom – in fact there’s no national chain stores of any kind.  “The Mall at Echo Bridge” is not like any other mall you know.

The Mall at Echo Bridge is on the corner of Chestnut and Elliot St in Newton Upper Falls.  It’s part of the mill complex next to the waterfall.  When the mill was closed 50 or so years ago, much of the complex was converted to office space but one of the buildings became the Mall at Echo Bridge.  The mall houses a quirky collection of ten or so local antique, gift and thrift stores.

Malls always have their “anchor store” – Macy’s, Bloomindales, etc.   At Echo Bridge the anchor store would have to be Eugene O’Neill’s Antiques.  When I first moved into the neighborhood and saw the sign I thought it was a bit odd to name an antique store after a playwright.  Sometime later though I learned that the man behind the counter is actually named Eugene O’Neill.  Eugene’s store is both the oldest and the largest store in the mall.  He’s been at the mall for over 40 years.  His shop runs the gamut from antiques thru thrift store fare.  You can buy anything from beautiful antique furniture to gently used VHS copies of Caddyshack.  In addition to selling, Eugene also buys at his store and is always on the lookout for interesting antiques and other merchandise that customers bring to him.

Just down the corridor is Thaian’s Timeless Gallery.  Thaian specializes in antique and collectible dolls as well as her own hand made jade, pearl and coral jewelry.  Aside from her selling merchandise though, Thaian also does restoration of old dolls and their accessories.  Her gallery is Newton’s only “doll hospital” and she’s the head of surgery.

Around the corner is .  Steve’s specializes in fine sterling and antique silver as well as coins.  His entire shop sparkles with silver everywhere.  In addition to the fine silver, Steve also buys scrap silver and gold.  According to my friend Scott Wilson, who’s been doing business with Steve for many years – “Steve’s an extremely honest and pleasant guy in a business (buying gold & silver) dominated by sharks.  He’s a pleasure do business with.”

is across from Steve’s, in the prime spot facing the parking lot.  Ronel is a craftsman of really spectacular fine hand-made jewelry.  Aside from sales, Ronel designs custom jewelry and specializes in restoring and repurposing keepsake jewelry.  So for example, he might take your grandmothers engagement ring and rework it into a contemporary design while preserving some of the design elements and the sentimental value.

The various shop owners and employees seem to be quite a friendly bunch.  You can often find them in each other’s stores or talking in the common areas when business is slow.  Likewise, as a group they seem to pull together a bit more than you’d find with chain stores.  At the moment for example, one end of Ronel’s shop is displaying some of Steve’s merchandise that doesn’t fit in his store.

So for a little off-the-beaten-track shopping, give the Mall at Echo Bridge a try … and when you’re done shopping, the Mall at Echo Bridge has got something no other mall has.  Walk out the front door, turn right, go over the bridge on Oak St and turn right again.  You can finish your retail outing with a beautiful 15 min loop walk through Hemlock Gorge, past the water fall, over Echo Bridge, up the hill and back again. 

It may not be the Mall of America but it may be the most unusual little mall that you’ve ever been in.

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Jo-Louise Allen February 14, 2012 at 08:41 PM
The Paper Tree is at the antique mall. Adele Cohen, the owner, has been selling gifts, cards, wedding invitations, birth announcements galore for over 30 years. It is so inviting, and nostalgic compared with the Hallmark line.
Jerry Reilly February 14, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Yes, I'm sorry she wasn't there the day I was in talking to folks. If I remember correctly Eugene O'Neill said that she's been there 40 years. It was either a week before or after he opened.

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