Spreading the Season’s Spirit With a Bit of Midnight Shopping

Photo: June Yacubian (Mrs. Claus) helping customers at The Toy Store in Belmont during Midnight Madness, Dec. 2, 2014.

Over in The Toy Store of Belmont, Mrs. Claus had just heard that Santa Claus will be accompanied by “his wife” during his annual visit to Belmont Center on Thursday.

“He’s bringing someone other than me?” Ms. Claus declared. “Santa Claus is a bigamist?” 

Not really. While dressed much like Ol’ Saint Nick’s significant other, The Toy Store’s Mrs. Claus is actually June Yacubian who was busy helping a customer well past the usual closing time of the store located adjacent to the former Macys site on Leonard Street.

She and the staff of “the happy place in the Center” along with nearly two-dozen other stores in Belmont Center remained open until the First Church’s bell struck 12 participating in the 5th annual Belmont Center Midnight Madness holiday sale spree.

Sponsored by the Belmont Center Business Association, the sale – in which many stores provided deeper discounts as the hour grew later – provides a unique opportunity for local shoppers to do their holiday gift purchasing without having to rush home during the work day or wait until the weekend. 

Over at bessie blue, Ali and Dandy Lion (3/4 chihuahua, 1/4 Pomeranian) assisted nearly two-dozen shoppers – some dressed up, others not so – with the latest fashion while in Marmalade, everyone dressed in matching pajamas to greet a steady stream of customers. 

“We have people asking for weeks, ‘Is the midnight sale this week? When is it’?” said bessie blue’s owner Lee Gaston, who calls the event a great way to start the holiday season.

Owner Lisa Castagno was fighting jet lag at her store, the consignment shop, Revolve, as she predicted a surge in shoppers when the discounts would begin on designer handbags at 10 p.m.

“We had customers waiting in the store until it was 6 p.m. so they could get 20 percent off. We never had that in the past,” she said.

For Champions Sporting GoodsGerry Dickhaut said he saw business pick up around 7:30 p.m. “after the mom’s put the kids to bed and can get out of the house,” noting the majority of participants have been and continue to be women.

“This is a great way to know our customers since we have more time to talk to them,” he said.

At Chocolate Dream, Vicki Frassica said that despite the rainy conditions, the night is “definitely very successful” in the past half decade.

“It’s nice to get a deal, and it’s nice that nearly everyone [of the stores] does it,” she said.

This Week: Santa’s Here on Thursday! All-Night Shopping Tuesday, Flu Clinic Friday on the Beech

• On the government end of things, the Belmont Board of Selectmen are meeting on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall while the Zoning Board of Appeals will hold court in the Belmont Gallery of Art at the same time and date. The Belmont Planning Board will meet on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Town Hall while over at the Chenery Middle School, the Belmont School Committee will be in session beginning at 7:30 p.m.

• The Belmont Public Library’s 7th-8th Grade Book Club will discuss Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson on Monday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Young Adults Room. Attendees will also choose January’s book and enjoy some snacks.

• Pre-School Storytime will be held at the Benton Library, Belmont’s independent and volunteer run library, on Tuesday, Nov. 24 at 10:30 a.m. Stories and crafts for children age 3 to 5. Parents or caregivers must attend. Siblings may attend with adults. Registration is not required. The Benton Library is located at the intersection of Oakley and Old Middlesex.

• Growing in popularity since beginning in 2010, Belmont Center’s fifth annual Midnight Madness will allow shoppers to buy locally from 21 stores which will stay open from 6 p.m. to midnight on Tuesday, Dec. 2. There will be snacks, drinks and each hour, customers can expect even deeper discounts. 

The Belmont Public Library is hosting a Homework & Hot Chocolate for Chenery students from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3. Stop by the Assembly Room, work on your homework, enjoy some hot chocolate, and try out an activity. Provided to you for free, thanks to the Friends of the Belmont Public Library.  Just drop in, no registration required.

• The extremely popular Art Classes resume for the year at the Beech Street Center with the first class taking place on Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 2 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. Catherine Tang, now a senior at Belmont High School, returns to teach – without charge – her popular art class on Wednesday afternoons. Catherine uses, and provides, a variety of media including colored pencil, water color, charcoal, etc. There is no cost to attend but you must sign up.

• Representatives from Belmont and Watertown that serve on the Logan Airport Community Advisory Committee are hosting a public meeting on airplane noise from Logan airport on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. in Belmont’s Town Hall. 

• The Beech Street Center is holding hearing screenings on Wednesday, Dec. 3, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Receive a free hearing test, and if needed your hearing aid battery replacement. Mass Audiology offers this service free of charge to Center participants. Sign up at the front desk or call 617-993-2970.

• It’s LEGO time at the Belmont Public Library from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4. The library’s LEGO club is for kids in kindergarten through second grade who want to meet and create their own unique structures.  All LEGOs will be provided so just bring your imagination to the Assembly Room.

• Mrs. Claus joins Santa for the Belmont Center Business Association’s 24th annual “Turn on the Town” celebration on Thursday, Dec. 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sponsored by Belmont Savings Bank, the holiday festivities will run along Leonard Street in Belmont Center.

• Rogers Pharmacy will conduct a flu immunization clinic at the Beech Street Center on Friday, Dec. 5 from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. The flu shot is covered by Medicare, Part B and by most health insurance plans. Otherwise the cost is $25.99.