“Wow.” CiCi Bennett of Reading and Kim Albushies of Wakefield said just that yesterday when they walked through the door of the new farm stand and garden center. Linda Wilkins of Reading said the same word came to mind when she entered the new building.
Shoppers poured in to the new Calareso's, which opened to the public yesterday. Their evaluation, based on interviews with eight customers at random just before noon: a thumbs up or a high high five or, literally, a “wow.”
Those shoppers commented on the size of the new building, the convenient width of the shopping aisles, the parking and the driveway access to the store.
All had shopped at Calareso’s original farm stand, now closed, a block north on Main Street.
The new building still looks like a farm stand in a barn, commented Terri Macdonald of Reading, approvingly. She said she’s shopped at Calareso’s for at least 10 years. Her granddaughter, who accompanied her, is concerned, she said, that “They didn’t paint it yet.”
The size of the new store is “manageable, not overwhelming,” according to Albushies. She said she shopped at the old store for 15 years, since she married.
Most of the interviewees said they come for the produce. Pam Kenny makes the trip from Malden once every week or two for the fruits and veggies. Janice Lucarelle of Stoneham comes to Calareso’s at least once a week because, she said, the produce is so fresh – and for plants in the spring.
Some said they add other items – from cheese to meat to a particular brand of salad dressing to cut flowers and plants -- to their shopping carts. Albushies comes for the produce and the meat and the perennials. “Everything is high quality,” she said. Linda Burns of Reading raved about Fanny’s Lite salad dressing, bottle in hand.
CiCi Bennett has shopped at Calareso’s “since grandpa (Calareso) was alive,” she said. “I’m happy,” she said, “for Joe (Calareso) and the family.”
As Patch was preparing to leave the building, Taryn Spinazzola of Reading walked in the door, past buckets of cut flowers and the first of many produce bins. They hold apples: bright green Granny Smith’s and glowing red Jazz varieties. Spinazzola looked around. “Wow,” she said.