First, let’s give a virtual round of applause to any business that braved the pandemic and started up in Natick in 2021. If they’ve gotten through this, you have to figure they’re only going to be stronger going forward.
Surprisingly, quite a few businesses opened their doors in Natick during 2021.
Natick Mall, which has been bleeding anchor tenants like Neiman Marcus last year and Lord & Taylor this year, welcomed a fun new attraction in interactive gaming venue Level99, which paired up with a Night Shift Brewing taproom.
Other new mall tenants have included Endangered Hobby and eyeglasses vendor Warby Parker.
Across Rte. 9 from the Mall, we saw Hot Doogy, a Brazilian-style hot dog seller, open its doors. Why so many feel compelled to compare it to local favorite Casey’s, we’re not sure… they’re different. Also, the Paper Store shuffled over the line from Framingham. PGA Superstore—all 34,000 sq. ft of it— also opened its doors on Rte. 9 East.
Tech Circle off Rte. 9 West also welcome new tenants, which couldn’t be more different. The Beach House scooped up a ton of sand and invited young and old to escape the cold and play indoor beach volleyball. Later in the year, Kaycha Labs opened its cannabis testing facility at Tech Circle.
On the food front, Maggie & Milo’s ice cream and hot dog shop nestled into the South Natick space previously occupied by Little Lola’s. Natick Nutrition opened its energizing smoothie/tea/coffee shop in Natick Center in a space formerly home to Java’s. And for all your pickled vegetable, dried beans, and Greek olive oil needs, look no further than the new Cilicia Mediterranean market downtown.
Other newcomers included needle maker Vita, Milch Motors (which was humming along when I visited for a pre-inspection checkup), and UbreakiFix, a gadget fixing shop.
Also new on the scene is KidStrong, the first New England location for this outfit, which focuses on kids’ physical and mental well being, and their character development. Natick’s Joe Attia, area developer for KidStrong, says the Natick location on West Central Street already has 500-plus members.
Also moving on was Papa Wheelies, which set up its bike shop in Wellesley, and Neighborhood Wrench, gone from Natick after 20 years but consolidating its auto repair and maintenance business in Medway. Lemon Tree Goods consignment shop will live on online, making room in Natick Center for Calliope’s to move in.
The 7-11 on East Central closed, but it looks like convenience will stay in style with the Natick General Store filling the gap.
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