Rozzie & Me: Abner Bonilla

Rozzie & Me: Abner Bonilla 

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work.

Do you consider the person who delivers your mail to be a friend and a neighbor? In Roslindale, most people do! Today we are chatting with Abner Bonilla about being a postal worker in Roslindale, his blog Travel New England, and reminiscing about the carnivals in Adams Park.

Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?

Abner: I’m from Roslindale, and I live in Roslindale. I live on the American Legion Highway side. My dad is from Costa Rica and my mom is from Cuba. They came to America in the 1960s and settled in Roslindale in the ’70s. We could say that they are from Roslindale too. I think my grandfather came to Firth Street from Cuba and then moved to Miami after that.

K: Tell me about your experience as a postal carrier in Roslindale.

A: I’ve been delivering mail for 14 years. I’ve been working as a mail carrier in Roslindale since 2010. I’ve gotten to know a lot of people. I already knew a lot of people here from when I went to high school at Boston Latin. I started to see a lot of people on my route whose kids I went to school with. I just thought it was so awesome. I started talking to everybody on my route. It’s kind of weird, but because of this job, I always know what’s going on. I don’t ask. People just tell me what’s going on. Before there was Facebook, the neighborhood goings-on would just be by word of mouth. I work eight to ten hours a day, and during Christmas it’s more, because we are really trying to do a good job and get everyone their mail. It’s an awesome job.

People always ask me if I mind working in bad weather — and I don’t really. You don’t really have a boss and you get to talk to people all day. I am being paid to deliver people’s mail, but I also talk to them.

If we notice that you haven’t picked up your mail in two days, we’re going to knock on the door. We want to make sure you’re okay. We get to a point where we know the people, so we really notice if something is out of place, or there’s a fire, or there’s smoke showing, or you haven’t collected your mail — I’ve called the fire department before.

K: Did you deliver mail in another neighborhood before you were in Roslindale?

A: Yeah, I was in Brookline. It’s two different worlds. The atmosphere in Brookline is different. There are a lot of higher income people in Brookline. Celebrities and baseball players live there.

K: Do you know of any celebrities living in Roslindale?

A: Not really. Not yet!

K: Tell me about your Trek New England blog.

A: My goal in life is to visit every city, town, township, and every corner of New England. I’ve basically been to every county.There are hundreds of counties in New England. The only place where I get stuck is northern Maine. There are some parts in Northern Maine that there is no real way to get to. I love to explore and write about it in my blog. I like the show Chronicle which shows some of that hidden stuff but, a lot of the times, I have to go look for stuff and find it myself. I love that I don’t have to leave the country to do all of this cool stuff.

People who like to go ziplining and usually they think of doing that in Costa Rica but you can go ziplining in New Hampshire. You can go swimming in the rivers in New England and you don’t really have to worry about crocodiles. I started my blog because I really wanted to show people that side of New England. I started the Instagram and website a few years ago but, technically, I’ve been traveling around New England since I was a kid. I was so lucky that I was taken to New Hampshire and Vermont as a kid. A lot of people in the City of Boston never leave their ten mile radius. One of the great things too is that people think they need a lot of money to access these adventures but a lot of it is free or very inexpensive.

You could spend $200 to $300 and go to Fenway Park to watch a game or you could drive up to a campsite, spend $40, toast marshmallows, be in nature, and listen to the game on the radio. What’s better than that?

K: What’s one of the coolest places you’ve trekked to?

A: I really like the Mount Washington area. If you want to relax there you can go to Mount Washington Hotel and just relax in an all day spa. I think it is so awesome when you’re at the top of Mount Washington. You’re up there and you’re just at peace because you’re looking around and there’s not a care in the world. I just want everybody to experience that. If you just want to go down hill biking, zip-lining in the middle of winter, or ice skating on a pond, you can do that too. It’s pretty fun. There’s something for everyone even if they hate the outdoors.There are breweries, too. That’s another thing I like doing, I like to drive around breweries. It’s one of my favorite things to see how it’s made.

K: What would you like to see happen for Roslindale in the future?

A: Building is a big issue in Roslindale. We should have a neighborhood council with representation from all over Roslindale. I feel like we can be stronger. We don’t want to stop development in Roslindale because we want people to move in. We want people who can afford to stay in Roslindale to stay in Roslindale. We don’t want a skyscraper here. We want people to stay in Roslindale.

K: What are some of your favorite things about Roslindale?

A: Honestly, my favorite thing about Roslindale is that it’s so diverse compared to other places. Here you’re able to experience everybody’s culture. When I was growing up, it wasn’t like that. Right now in Roslindale, I’m getting a feel for everybody’s culture, especially their food. I love food. I also love that a lot of people speak Spanish and Creole in Roslindale.

K: Do you have a favorite Roslindale story or memory?

A: When I was a little kid, I went to a preschool behind Sacred Heart, which is now a playground. The teachers would walk us down to the fire department on the corner of Canterbury and American Legion. The firefighters would put up the ladders for us and they’d let us play with the hoses. We got a feel for what they do and they were so nice to us. I wanted to be a firefighter. When the police would come by, I wanted to be a police officer. It was awesome to see what they did and how they showed us. You’ve got to appreciate what public servants do here in Roslindale and Boston.

K: Do you have a favorite event that happens in Roslindale?

A: When I was growing up in Roslindale, up until, I’d say early 2000s, there would be carnivals in Adams Park. They couldn’t fit too many rides but they had a few. I know they fixed up Adams Park since then so maybe they don’t want a big event like that messing the park up. The Adams Park carnival was in the daytime. Every kid there was my age. My mom would take me. I remember there was a bandstand right in the middle.

 

 

Mother’s Day in Roslindale

Celebrate Mother’s Day in Roslindale

Here are some local tips if you are still shopping for Mother’s Day or need to make a reservation to celebrate in Roslindale Village. Guarantee the Mom(s) you love a wonderful, hassle-free day!

Birch Flower Shop – The perfect place to get fresh flowers, opening at 8:00am this Sunday.

Birch St. House & Garden – Check their website for hours. Their solar lanterns, scarves, and necklaces are just a few examples of the store’s very special, Mom-friendly items.

Boston Cheese Cellar – not only do they have cheese, but they have chocolate and local honey!

Joanne Rossman, Purveyor of the unnecessary and the irresistible – Check store hours on the store’s website. A few unique gifts available at Joanne’s store are handmade paper flowers, specialty chocolates, and spices & jams among many others – all made locally.

Stop by Solera, a Shrine to Wine, Chance Liquors, and Craft Beer Cellar for spirits galore for mom!

Mother’s Day Brunches and Dinners!

Delfino – Open earlier than usual (1:30pm) — make a reservation by calling (617) 327-8359.

Birch Street Bistro – New spring cocktails! Make a reservation by calling (617) 323-2184

Redd’s in Rozzie – They have a fab Mother’s Day Brunch, usually accepting reservations at 10:30am, 12:00pm, 1:30pm — make a reservation by calling (617) 325-1000.

Sophia’s Grotto – Patio season! 12:00-4:00pm for brunch and 4:00-9:00pm for dinner. Make a reservation by calling (617) 323-4595.

Shanti – Check out their Mother’s Day Brunch Menu and make a reservation by calling (617) 325-3900.

753 South – More Patio-time for all. Make a reservation by calling (617) 477-4686.

Spring Into Action, Roslindale! Volunteer Fair

Spring Into Action, Roslindale! Volunteer Fair

 

Thank you to all who came out for our 2018 Spring Volunteer Fair, co-hosted by the BCYF Roslindale Community Center!

We’d like to give a special Thank You to Ann Siegel from the Community Center as well as a shout out to our spectacular volunteers that helped make this event happen – Erin Doherty, Hilary Sullivan, Silvana Ragusa, Tom Donahue, and Anthony Giordano! 

And thank you to Roslindale House of Pizza for our tasty lunch!

Thank you also to all of our participating organizations – if you didn’t make it, but would like to learn more about volunteering locally, reach out to one of them listed below.

RISE – Roslindale IS for Everyone

Roslindale Green & Clean

Friends of Roslindale Branch Library

Roslindale Day Parade Committee, Inc.

Progressives MA West Roxbury/Roslindale

Ethos

Loring-Greenough House

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston

Boston Partners in Education

Ecumenical Social Action Committee, Inc. (ESAC)

Boston Building Resources

WalkUP Roslindale

Boston’s Forgotten Felines

Generations Incorporated

Silver Lining Mentoring

The Thrift Shop of Boston

Parkway Rotary Club

Boston Debate League

 

Centre Cuts Salon & Spa Welcomes Zsuzsi Gero: Licensed Massage Therapist

Welcome to Roslindale, Zsuzsi Gero!

 

Centre Cuts Salon & Spa is pleased to announce that Zsuzsi Gero, Licensed Massage Therapist, is joining their staff of service providers! Zsuzsi is a graduate from the Northeastern Institute of Whole Health in Manchester, New Hampshire and currently holds a license of Massage Therapy in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“I understand the inherent and powerful connection between body and mind. My mission is to provide ultimate relaxation to every client. Every day I strive to both educate and help my clients by empowering them to live better and healthier lives.”

Besides offering Swedish, Deep Tissue (Neuromuscular Trigger Point) modalities, Zsuzsi also offers Grigorian massage and incorporates elements of Lomi Lomi and Sports Massage.

Welcome Zsuzsi to our salon! Starting May 1st, Tuesday-Wednesday-Friday. Weekends by appointment.

Make an appointment by calling Centre Cuts Salon & Spa: (617) 325-0002

 

RVMS Volunteer & Business of the Year!

RVMS Volunteer & Business of the Year!

Every year, Boston Main Streets and the Mayor awards a business and a volunteer of the year within each Main Street District. Last year, Mayor Walsh went on a Trolley Tour through the neighborhoods of Boston to hand the awards personally to the winners. This will happen again later this year in the summer! Our Board of Directors put it to a vote at our last Board Meeting, and the RVMS Volunteer & Business of the Year are:

Volunteer of the Year:

Andrea Miller

Andrea is always willing to go the extra mile in the EDC to make great ideas happen. She takes initiative and dives in, she works great with everyone and has made it a point to get to know businesses personally. She helped be a major driver of the Roslindale Means Business event last year. She is a tireless volunteer and RVMS advocate. Last year, she was also invaluable on the Build Zone event, gathering in-kind sponsorships. Andrea also worked tirelessly with Family Dollar to improve their storefront. She attends meetings with business owners and has relationships with many. She also volunteered at nearly every event in 2017

Business of the Year: 

Birch St. House & Garden

Business owner Elizabeth Swanson continues to expand offerings at the store in response to a growing and changing Roslindale Community. She sells items from local artists and unique items you can’t get anywhere else. She works with local schools and parent groups to donate a portion of a day of sales to different Roslindale schools. She helped organized the very innovative Valentine’s Day market in the Substation and has participated and helped organize the Holiday Market and the Farmers market. Birch St. House & Garden is really a pillar of our business community.

 Congratulations to both! We’ll submit both Andrea Miller and Elizabeth Swanson’s info to the Mayor’s office and will keep you all in the loop about when and where Mayor Walsh will be to celebrate this fabulous Rozzie duo.

Rozzie & Me: Hannalore Tice

Rozzie & Me: Hannalore Tice

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work. 

Roslindale is home to lots and lots of dogs and dog-lovers alike, but Hannalore Tice, owner of Boston For the Dogs, might be the Rozzident who loves dogs the most. Today, we are chatting with Hannalore about how she started her small business, how Boston could be more dog-friendly, and why the RVMS Summer Farmers Market is the perfect place to bring your pooch.

Kelly: Where are you from originally?

Hannalore: I am originally from Hudson Valley in New York. I moved around quite a bit after high school, throughout college and after college. I went to school in Albany and then moved down to Georgia, and that’s when I got into dog rescue — I found an abandoned pitbull on the side of the road. Throughout my childhood I volunteered at the New England Aquarium. My degree is in education and marine biology, so I ended up coming up here for a teaching job at the Aquarium for the summer, and then I just never left.

KR: When did you move to Roslindale?

HT: I’m in my fifth year of living in Roslindale. I was originally living in Brighton when I moved up here, and it just wasn’t really kind of like the life of a community that I was looking for. I felt like it was a lot of temporary people because it’s mostly students and college kids. I was looking around and I just couldn’t really find anything that I liked. It’s also extremely difficult to find something that’s dog-friendly, and I had three dogs. So, I found a cool dog friendly place, a rental, in Roslindale. When I came out here it kind of changed my life a little bit. I loved it, and I feel like such a local now.

KR: Tell me about Boston For the Dogs.

HT: Working with a lot of rescue dogs and volunteering for a local rescue, I kept finding that a lot of dogs were getting re-homed or clients were having a really hard time with their dogs because they just weren’t getting enough structure and exercise. I had a pitbull that needed structure and exercise because she was super young, and the success I had with her sparked the idea. I had a part time job for a little while walking dogs when I lived in the Brighton area, and it made me realize that I might be able to turn this passion into a career; to do my own thing but in my own way. I started Boston For the Dogs, and it worked!

The cool thing about BFTD is that it was developed with a community in mind. Everything that BFTD does is for the dogs, so that our clients and their dogs can live a better life, together.  Our core focus is DO MORE WITH YOUR DOG! The style of training that I use isn’t about having an obedient dog; it’s about having a stable and happy dog. It is mostly me training people the value of simply doing more with their dogs. I love helping dogs that previously had no training learn to be good dogs; how to follow proper social skills. It’s just awesome to be a part of the transformation, of both the dogs and their owners. Everyone ends up so much happier.  

Boston for the Dogs stands alone in what we do. We are a dog-walking company, but if you are looking for someone who is just going to come in-and-out and just check on your dog, then we are not the company for you. We are invested in the dogs, in their humans and most importantly in their relationships. We don’t call our clients “clients.” We call them family, and when the family has a problem, we all join forces to solve it in the best way we can, together.

KR: How many staff do you have?

HT: Currently, we have eight staff. I started out with just me, and it stayed that way for about three years. Then my friend Gian started helping me one day week just so that I could have one slow day and do business stuff. When Corey came on with me two years ago everything just took off. Now, we feature a wide array of skills by our handlers. Some of our handlers on the team are really good with the senior dogs. A couple of the team members love the high energy playgroup dogs. Corey and I love the pitbulls and the shepherds that need training, structure and love to hike. Each person on the team perfectly falls in line with all the needs of all the dogs that we have in our Boston for the Dogs Family and everyone benefits!

 

KR: Do you provide the majority of your services in Roslindale?

HT: We have a very large service area, and I also know that it’s slowly growing which is awesome. We’ve had a few clients that have moved to Roslindale just so they could be close to us, which is cool. We have a lot of dogs, and they all have different backgrounds and training. We have some dogs that go out with us on our hikes. We have some dogs that are part of our playgroups. We’re out here in Roslindale every day, and about 60 percent of our clients are here. We also service JP and West Roxbury.

 

KR: Do you think Roslindale is dog-friendly and how could it become more dog friendly?

HT: I think that Roslindale really wants to be dog-friendly. It really, really does. A lot of the rules and restrictions that are put in place are because of city and state-wide health codes. The style of businesses that our community has does make it very difficult to be dog-friendly. I find that there are a lot of people advocating for more dog-friendly stuff. Right now, everybody wants a dog.

A way that could make it better for dogs is by having some more dog-friendly patio places. That would help create a more dog-friendly atmosphere. There are lots of opportunities. I think some dogs really do love, need, and enjoy dog parks. Dog parks are a great social place for humans and dogs. There are lots of places that we could provide a space for dogs within our community.

My biggest complaint in the Roslindale dog world is that it seems incredibly difficult for everybody to pick up their dog’s poop, but I think it is because there is a lack of garbage cans. I find that people are not cleaning up because they don’t want to be carrying used bags around. When you’re walking around, you realize you must carry that garbage for so far and then sometimes you end up with a mess.

I’m hoping that over the next couple of years Roslindale does become more dog-friendly. It’s difficult because a lot of housing is not dog-friendly.

KR: Besides dog-related things, what else would you to like to see happen in Roslindale in the future?

HT: I’m excited to see the breweries come in. I would love to see more of a nightlife in Roslindale. I would love to see a couple more bars — and bars with space for live music or open mic nights. Roslindale is home to so many local musicians and artists and I feel like if we’re not providing spaces right here then we’re not keeping money in our community. I am still young and there are young people moving into our community, and they all have to leave and go downtown or to JP. I feel like we’re really missing out on some great stuff.

Also, I’m not going to lie, I would love to see a Trader Joe’s. I think that the dynamic of having access to that food would be great.

I also think that having more universal spaces that could be used by the community for co-working would work well. I don’t necessarily want to rent an office, but also at the same time I don’t want to keep working in my living room. It makes it very difficult for work life balance. I keep going down to WeWork for big business meetings, and I don’t want to do that. That’s an hour of commuting just to get down there, and I’m leaving Roslindale even though my business is based in Roslindale.

KR: What’s your favorite thing about Roslindale?

HT: One of my favorite things about Roslindale is that the community is evolving. It is fun seeing the culture and the arts that the new people are bringing in are starting to really take shape. I also love the fact that slowly we’re kind of getting everything that we need here. Rozzie has all my favorite restaurants and most of my favorite stores and they are all within a ten-minute drive from my home. Everything I need is right here at my fingertips. I just wish I could take my dog into some of those places. I need a dog-life balance.

KR: Do you have a favorite Roslindale event?

HT: I love the RVMS Summer Farmers Market because I can bring the dogs there. Sometimes I have a table at the market, and I don’t have anything to sell. We offer coloring and a dog-petting station. It’s a great way for everyone to come over and meet the dogs. I think it’s a great opportunity for us to tell people in the community what services we offer and for them to meet the team. I loved Savor the Square last year. I love all the food in Roslindale.

KR: Do you have a favorite memory of Roslindale?

HT: Honestly, most of my favorite memories are dog-related. Some of my favorite memories are at Peters Hill when we take our dogs and some of our clients’ dogs and having class up there. We have so much fun in the class that I teach. It’s a natural classroom, and we work on teaching the dogs social skills. The humans are super-relaxed, and we just hang out, and it’s a fun opportunity for all of us. Those memories are my favorite. Being able to live in a place where I can teach class in an outdoor space is awesome as well.

 

St. Paddy’s Day in Rozzie

St. Paddy’s Day in Rozzie

These are just some of the St. Patrick’s Day specials you can find throughout Roslindale. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more up-to-date information about specials, events, and promotions around Roslindale Village.

Tony’s Market has corned beef, grey and red. While supplies last, you can get free cabbage with your order. Call ahead!

The Boston Cheese Cellar is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with three wonderful Irish cheese specials: Gortnomona Goat Brie, Shepard’s Store, and Cashel Blue.  

Birch St. House & Garden: spend $20 or more on St. Patrick’s Day, and you’ll receive a free lucky charm. There are also cute shamrock earrings and sparkly green snow globes. Bonus: Easter Basket Fillers galore can be found here as well as seeds for your blossoming garden.

Napper Tandy’s will feature a special St. Paddy’s Day menu, featuring Shepherd’s Pie! 

Both Diane’s Bakery and Fornax Bread Co. have Irish bread and St. Patrick’s Day-themed treats.

Rozzie & Me: Kristie Helms

Rozzie & Me: Kristie Helms

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work. 

Did you know that some folks in Roslindale participate in a Facebook group called ‘Keep Roslindale Quirky?‘ Quirky is a group created by Kristie Helms, a long-time Rozzident and social media guru. Today, I am chatting with Kristie about why she chose the word ‘quirky,’ her dream of giving Roslindale a voice, and why the Roslindale Day Parade is her favorite annual event.

Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Kristie: I am originally from a town called Possum Trot in Kentucky. The population is like ten people [laughs]. The closest city to us is Nashville. It is in the middle of nowhere, and there are a lot of chemical plants and tobacco farms. The chemical plants in my hometown have really tall smokestacks and at night they are covered in white lights. I used to drive around at night blasting Run DMC and pretend I was in the city. I had to get out of there. I moved to New York, and I lived there for six years. I loved it. Then, I fell in love with a woman who lived in Roslindale.

KR: Wait. Did you fall in love in Roslindale?
KH: Actually, yeah, we did! Now, she is my wife, and we have been together for 17 years. She had a house on Florian Street, which is near Hyde Park Avenue and I moved in there. We met online before meeting people online was a thing. We started flirting online, and she came down to New York and then that was it. Six months later I was in Roslindale.

KR: Tell me about your Facebook group, Keep Roslindale Quirky.
KH: Quirky started two or three years ago. It was originally started as a way to support the Pet Cabaret during their adjustment to having another pet store moving into town closeby. I wanted to make it broad enough to cover lots of things about Roslindale. One of the things I have noticed about Roslindale is that it’s such an involved community. Everyone has such a great neighborhood and community voice, but there was never one place that brought all of Roslindale together. Roslindale is divided by multiple city councilors, multiple state senators, multiple wards, and multiple state representatives. It’s always been hard to give all of Roslindale a voice and that was really what I wanted to do.

KR: How many members are there?
KH: Right now, there are 4,200 members. It absolutely blows my mind. You know how neighbors will talk to each other over the fence? Quirky has become like that experience — but online. I treasure it. That was one of my intentions.

KR: Why did you choose the word “quirky?”
KH: I very intentionally chose the word quirky. I wanted a positive word that could mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Everyone has their own definition of the word quirky. It’s a very positive word. I, personally, feel that what makes Roslindale so awesome is that it is quirky.

I wanted to keep the ethos of the Roslindale Day Parade. The Roslindale Day Parade is my favorite event ever. It is the quirkiest event I have ever been to in my entire life. It’s lesbian moms marching next to Haitian step dancers marching next to pro-life parents and no one cares because it’s just how Roslindale is. That’s what Keep Roslindale Quirky is. I started the group to give people a space to keep that spirit going all year long. I love that people are a part of it because they want to know their neighbors — but at the same time they don’t care what your lifestyle is.

KR: Do you have any favorite stories about Quirky?
KH: I love how people are just people on Quirky. I remember, one day, an elderly woman posted that she was having a hard time putting her SIM card into her phone. One of the members, Abner, saw the post and just went to her house and put it in for her. It touches my heart that these little neighborly things happen on Quirky that might not happen without the group. A lot of people think of the group as a place to talk about all the huge things happen in the neighborhood, but it’s really about all these small interactions between neighbors.

KR: What other ways have you been involved in the community?
KH: I have always been involved in community organizations. When I first moved to Roslindale, one of my first jobs was with Rogerson Communities which is headquartered in Roslindale. Rogerson is really great because they provide low and middle-income housing for elderly people all over Boston. One of their locations is in the old Roslindale High School. They take abandoned properties, usually schools, and turn it into housing which is so amazing. They have properties in Chinatown, Beacon Hill, JP, and all over Boston. They have a wonderful ethos about giving back to the community. When I started there, it was the first year of Roslindale Open Studios. They have a huge gorgeous auditorium in the old Roslindale High. They open it up to community groups all the time, so I suggested that we open it up to Roslindale Open Studios. I was really involved in that for the first two or three years, and they still host an open studio every year.

KR: What is one of your favorite things about living in Roslindale?
KH: I love Roslindale Square so much. I feel like, as someone who grew up in a really small town with a courthouse square, it feels like a small town to me. It is a great center where people can come together, and it’s easily accessible by walking from almost every corner of Roslindale.

KR: Do you have a favorite Roslindale memory?
KH: One of my favorite memories is one of the first Open Studios. It was so tiny. We had no idea if it was going to work or not because we had never done anything like that before. People came out for it. It was amazing to see all the artists work from around here. I had no idea that this neighborhood had so many artists in it. 

I have to say another favorite memory that I have is, right after the last presidential election, Quirky had a get-together. Thirty people came to my house and it was an incredible moment. It wasn’t political at all. People just wanted to meet their neighbors. We had all felt so divided after that last election that a lot of people were like, ‘I live in a neighborhood, and I want to know my community.’ I loved that.

KR: What would you like to see happen in Roslindale or with Keep Roslindale Quirky in the future?
KH: My ultimate goal is for Roslindale to have a real solid voice with elected officials. My dream of dreams with Quirky is to make it into a space that really gives Roslindale a voice, and I think it has started doing that by promoting things like WalkUp Roslindale, the RVMS Farmers Market, and other community activities that bring everyone together. I would like to take it one step further and start to host regular town halls where our local elected officials can come and hear what the people of Roslindale have to say because we don’t have a space for that right now. We are so divided with wards and community groups which is great, but we don’t have anything that’s just one Roslindale. Jamaica Plain does it a lot, but they have the advantage of one city councilor and one state rep. I really think Roslindale needs to have that voice because we have so many people who care and so many people who bring vibrancy to the City. I just really want to give that a more powerful voice.

Rozzie & Me: Seymore Green

Rozzie & Me: Seymore Green

The Rozzie & Me blog series is guest-written by RVMS Marketing Committee Volunteer Kelly Ransom. Kelly will be interviewing residents, business-owners, and folks from all walks-of-life who make Roslindale a special place to live and work. 

Did you know you can get a custom-made t-shirt right in Roslindale? Seymore Green has been in business for ten years at 35 Poplar Street and can provide you with all your custom t-shirt printing needs. Today, we are talking with the owner and namesake of the store, Seymore Green, about how being a small business owner is in his DNA and why he chose to open his store in Roslindale.

Kelly: Where are you from originally and where do you live now?
Seymore: Originally, I am from the Brigham Circle area of Mission Park. Now, I live in Hyde Park. My business has been in Roslindale for ten years.

K: Tell me about your store, Seymore Green.
S: I started in 2005. I started off selling cellphones and putting ringtones on people’s phones before you could download ringtones. It was a big business. It was before smartphones. It was a good time for cell phones back then. After that, I learned how to make custom t-shirts to keep the business going because the cell phone game died. I had to change my game plan. 

K: Why did you decide to start your own business?
S: It took me 37 years, but I realized that I am not capable of working for someone else. My mother helped me get my first job at Brigham and Woman when I was 16. About six months in, my mother asked the boss how I was doing, and the boss replied, ‘He walks around like he owns the place.’ It was a good and bad thing. It motivated me, but it also made me wonder why I was working for someone else. I hate those experiences where the employees are so scared of their boss that they bite their tongues. I’ve never wanted that experience in my life so that is how I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work for someone else.

My whole life I have been studying business. I have a great understanding of buy, sell, supply and demand. I went to school for business. I think business has always been in my soul. I think the only way that you can be self-sufficient is to start your own business. It was just in my DNA.

K: How did you come about designing custom t-shirts?
S: I wanted to be more creative. I didn’t want to create shirts and then outsource them. I like to do everything myself. I am very hands-on and it is more rewarding to me to do things myself.

K: What made you decide to open your business in Roslindale?
S: Back in 1998, I used to frequent the space where my store is now. It was called ‘Sight and Sound.’ I used to go there and buy records, posters, and practical joke toys. I was a fan of the store for many years. Lo and behold now it is mine with a different sight and a new sound.

K: What kinds of goods and services have you been providing lately?
S: As far as t-shirts go, I provide a lot of custom made t-shirts for the community. I make a lot of rest in peace t-shirts for people who want to memorialize their loved ones who have passed. I specialize in that. People can get t-shirts, buttons, and they can get one shirt or one hundred shirts. People come in with their own designs for shirts for their family reunions, sports teams, and companies. It is a variety of occasions but whatever the need is, I can make a shirt for it.

K: Have you noticed with the laws changing that you have been more lucrative in the smoke shop side of things?
S: I’ve definitely been more lucrative. People feel safer now and they don’t feel embarrassed to go into a smoke shop anymore. In time, I think it will become just as common as going into a liquor store.

K: Do you have plans in the future to evolve the smoke shop concept even more?
S: I would like to be able to deliver to people who don’t like to leave the house or can’t because they are sick. I would also like to educate people on how to start their own business. I feel like I could impart good ideas and knowledge to aspiring entrepreneurs because I have 13 years in the business.

K: Have you noticed if most of your customers are residents of Roslindale or do they seem to be from all over Boston?
S: I think they are from all over Boston but especially the surrounding towns like Hyde Park, West Roxbury, and JP.

K: Besides your store, do you have a favorite place in Roslindale?
S: 753 South has a great atmosphere and the food is even better.

K: Do you have a favorite annual Roslindale event?
S: I like the Roslindale Day Parade and I like the Farmers Market. The Farmers Market brings a lot of different people to the community. I think Roslindale is the best of both worlds between Boston and Cambridge. I love living near and working in Roslindale.

K: What would you like to see happen in Roslindale in the future?
S: I would like to see more camaraderie between the businesses. I think it would be nice to have a program where if you went into one business you are offered a discount at another business — like a partnership. Maybe you could go into a restaurant, but be able to hear and learn more about Seymore Green or the local bank or something like that.

Visit Seymore Green and meet the man himself:

Seymore Green
35 Poplar Street
Roslindale, MA 02131

Business Profile: Fornax Bread Company

Fornax Bread Company Business Profile

THIS IS PART FOUR OF A FIVE-PART SERIES OF PHOTOS AND PROFILES OF BUSINESSES IN ROSLINDALE VILLAGE. RVMS PHOTOGRAPHER, BRUCE SPERO, AND RVMS PROGRAM MANAGER, KELSIE EVANS, ARE VISITING FIVE BUSINESSES AROUND THE VILLAGE TO CAPTURE SOME OF WHAT GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES. VIEW MORE PHOTOS HERE.

Looking at the extensive menu of over fifty breads, pastries, and soups and sandwiches, it’s hard to imagine that Fornax Bread Company started with just five items over twenty years ago. “The sourdough boule is our signature and what we opened with,” said co-owner Chris Fallon. “At that time, there was no wall between the front of house and the kitchen, so we’d be working at the prep table, and when people came in, we’d stop to wait on them. They’d ask for other pastries, coffee, and this and that, so we started to expand.”

Chris opened Fornax in 1997 with his brother Gregg, and now owns the bakery with his wife, Kimberly. “When Fornax opened, I still worked downtown on weekdays, so Chris would set out a can in front and people would pay for bread, coffee, and scones and he’d bake,” she said.

Kimberly, whose background is in landscape architecture, joined the team full-time and helped expand the pastry program. “We’d start with twelve English muffins and ask, ‘will these sell?’” Kimberly explained. Kimberly enjoys the creativity of baking. “I used to just make cakes for fun, but people kept calling and there was nowhere else to go for a custom cake, so we filled a gap. It  was a sign of a changing Roslindale when foot traffic increased, that we can sell this variety of items.”

Chris has a long history in the restaurant industry. “I worked in restaurants in high school and college and just loved it. After graduation, I went back to working in restaurants.” He and Kimberly moved to Denver, where he was a chef at a local restaurant. When their baker left to open his own bakery, Chris went with him. “Baking was something I didn’t know much about, so I worked as his apprentice, with the goal of learning as much as I could and then moving back to Massachusetts, since both Kimberly and I are from here.”

Going from apprentice to opening his own bakery was harder than he thought. “When you run kitchens, you know management, mixing, and how to bake, so that’s not a big leap, but the hours are a lot,” said Chris.

They ended up in Roslindale Village, which was very different at the time. “When we were looking for a place to live, Roslindale was affordable, wonderful, close to the Arboretum (we’re dog owners), and close to public transportation. But twenty years ago, there were a lot of grated storefronts,” said Chris. “The neighborhood had good bones,” interjected Kimberly. “I like that it’s a square, instead of one long street, and there are a lot of cool places.”

Chris and Kimberly have been a fixture in Roslindale Village ever since. “It is satisfying to walk to work and feel like a part of the community,” says Kimberly. “I like knowing I’m baking for my neighbors.” For Chris, satisfaction “comes from my family. We work together, and it is rewarding, physical work.” Their high school-aged daughter Phoebe is often at the bakery and runs their booth at the RVMS Summer Farmers Market. On this particular day, she stopped by after school to chat with her parents, occasionally jumping up to refill their water bottles or help package an order.

“I have memories of being at the bakery as a kid. There are pictures of me sleeping in a banana box in one photo and on a sack of flour at age five in another,” said Phoebe. Growing up in the family business “is definitely cool. I get to meet a lot of people, see a lot of different things. I’ve learned about good work ethic and money management.” The staff at Fornax has been “a second family; I’ve known Brenno [baker at Fornax] since I was three.”

Chris takes pride in the fact that their staff, like Brenno, whose worked at Fornax for twelve years, sticks around. “The kitchen environment is like no other – the energy level, the characters – they might not fit in anywhere else, myself included,” said Chris. “We treat our staff well, and the people who stay, they’re like family.”

Sara, who has worked out front for two years, agrees. “I like the people, and the nice little community we have. People really know each other in Roslindale and we also have a lot of regulars.”

Fornax’s long-term relationships also extend to their suppliers and network of wholesale customers. “We’ve been with our egg and fruit suppliers for nineteen years, and supplying to some of our restaurants for the same amount of time,” said Chris. You can find Fornax bread at nineteen restaurants around Boston, including local places like Sophia’s Grotto and Redd’s in Rozzie.

Asked about the challenges of running a small business, Chris mentions staffing. “If there’s an issue, it falls to us.” For Kimberly, it’s “keeping things fresh after twenty years. Projects like the “parklet” in the summer help. It’s good to have RVMS in the community. They help keep Roslindale moving forward. RVMS events add energy to the neighborhood.”

“When you run a small business, you find out you’re good at a lot of things, but other things not so much, like marketing,” said Kim. Fornax might not be super active on social media, but “the smell of fresh bread is good PR.”

“The food is amazing, I love the sandwiches,” said Kaye, a regular customer. “Fornax is a great place; it has a lot of character and the staff is always friendly.”

Everything from the signature sourdough boule (which some customers refer to as the “Fornax bread”) to the soups and pop tart dough is homemade. “It’s nice to walk into a place and know it is all made there, and that everything is fresh that day,” said Chris. “Here you’ll get a good product, good service, good value. It’s real food.”

Visit Fornax Bread Company

Monday – Friday 7:00 am – 7:00 pm

Saturday – Sunday 8:00 am – 6:00 pm

27 Corinth Street

Roslindale, MA

617-325-8852

www.fornaxbread.com