A Spotlight on Reader Raves

 In Blog

Here at Beetle Press, we occasionally get the opportunity to write about local businesses that provide helpful, quality services in the community.

This fall, after the Springfield Republican tallied its Reader Raves results, Janice was asked to write about three Reader Raves winners: Amelia Park Ice Arena & Garden in Westfield, Majestic Theater in West Springfield and Kate Gray Boutique in Longmeadow. (Note that our valued client, Glenmeadow Retirement, was also a Reader Raves award winner, but Janice was sadly not assigned to tell that story!)

There were nearly 100 different categories that businesses were recognized for in the Reader Raves competition—from best antique shop to friendliest cop. Here are those we had the chance to rave about:

Amelia Park Ice Arena & Garden of Westfield was a philanthropic gift to the community by the late Albert and Amelia Ferst. It is open year round and is a wonderful place to take a time out from the electronic era and enjoy athleticism and one another. It’s the home ice for the Westfield State University’s men’s and women’s skate teams as well as the Westfield High School’s Bombers and the St. Mary Saints. The rink is also home to two sled hockey programs for people with physical disabilities, learn-to-skate programs, an open public skate program, dek hockey—like street hockey—and box lacrosse.

In the summer, several hundred residents come on Tuesday nights for the Musical Moments concerts in the expansive garden, which is open to the public during the arena’s business hours.

The leaders of Amelia Park Ice Arena believe in collaboration. They host countless fundraisers for community members and nonprofits alike.

The 230-seat Majestic Theater in West Springfield provides a truly regional theater experience. Their core designers, actors, directors, stage managers, costumers, and other crew are all Valley-based, though they sometimes bring in actors from New York and New Jersey.

The experience at Majestic begins in its café with a view onto Elm Street. There is a small bar, a fireplace, and a cozy café. Sit and have a snack or dessert and a glass of wine while you wait for the doors to open. Before the performance begins, you can’t help but study the intricate set design with its elaborate details and enhancements. Once the action starts, you will be transported, from the first line through to the curtain call.

Shows typically run for six or seven weeks, so there are roughly 33 opportunities to see each one. Majestic Theater also offers children’s theater and live performances through the summer.

Kate Gray Boutique offers sleek and eclectic slacks, tops, jewelry, scarves, footwear and other accessories. And it sources its products globally from small, family-owned companies and designers/artisans with names that have long been synonymous with quality, craftsmanship and ethical business practices. Owner Kate Vishnyakov says the look her wares produce is modern classic, and the quality fabrics she stocks stand the test of time and pair well together, season after season.

Clients of Kate Gray range from 20-something New York executives to 70- or 80-something “fabulous grandmas,” along with the occasional husband or dad. Vishnyakov prides herself on providing fashion education to her customers by personally helping them choose a look that fits them.

Vishnyakov got her start in the fashion industry growing up in Moscow, Russia, where her grandmother taught her to sew. After moving to this country 20 years ago, she worked at Yale Genton in West Springfield, eventually becoming its manager and buyer and building a clientele of women—many of whom followed her to Kate Gray Boutique.

Janice will have more stories about local businesspeople in the 2016 Outlook section in the Republican. Stay tuned for more!

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