So I love Magnolia Cottage Shop and the owner is a friend. And I have to give her credit because she open the store just before Covid hit and she hung in and doubled down and actually moved into a BETTER space across the driveway in the same commercial location.
The new space is filled with light and fun things waiting to be discovered. The wall color is one I am a bit obsessed with. A shade of grey that is just so pretty!
Tasty Table Market & Catering is one of my favorite food gems. Located at 10 Leopard Rd, Berwyn, PA 19312 they are a delight to deal with and their food is amazing! They are breakfast, lunch, take home dinner, corporate events, private events, weddings, any kind of catering you can think of.
I stopped in to pick up lunch and discovered all sorts of new things on the menu, as well as a slightly new look inside. You can go and eat your breakfast and lunch. The seating is limited but it’s very socially distanced. Oh and they serve La Colombe coffee!
Today I am having one of their Vietnamese hoagies which is a really good sandwich. I also checked out something new on the menu which is a vegetarian broccoli rabe quesadilla. Some of that is coming home for heating up at another time along with their famous crab cakes which are absolutely delicious.
We are winter whiskey imbibers. When I was little winter colds were pretty much treated with a very weak hot toddy. And I bake with whiskey. And yes I know it is sacrilege to use small batch whiskey in baking, but I do it anyway.
There are a couple small batch distilleries we like one is McLaughlin out of Sewickley, PA. Another is Manatawny Still Works out of Pottstown.
I am not a big hard alcohol person. Small batch whiskeys are a relatively new thing for me and I don’t drink much of them but they’re nice on a cold day and great in a cup of tea when everything aches. I just tried a small sip of the Dewey’s No. 69 Small Batch Bourbon and like I said I am not a whiskey connoisseur but I like it —it’s smooth, yet rich, a little smoky and smells good. (I’m weird I go by smell which is why I’ve never tasted scotch because I don’t like the smell. )
Friends suggested we try their products and apparently they do other spirits rather well in addition. Once the weather is a little nicer and the tasting room is open I am going to go over for a socially distanced little look around because I’ve always wanted to see what a distilling operation looks like.
The other thing I liked is the gentleman that dropped off my order took the time (in his mask and all socially distanced on my front porch), to tell me about their business. And I like the story. And if you like the story of a small business then you want to support them.
Because I don’t drink very much and because I am sensitive to people with alcohol issues, I don’t talk about alcohol I occasionally buy very often. But this is a local business and if you can drink responsibly, try it. However, if you have a delivered you have to prove your age. And they will ship within Pennsylvania if it’s two bottles or more. And I think they can ship to some other states but I forget how that’s worked it’s through some kind of consortium I think.
Oh and when they can they try to go organic and local with the ingredients of what they are distilling.
So I blame my whiskey explorations on too much Acorn TV and BritBox and BBC. consider this a different kind of #ShopLocal
As always I feel the need to tell all of my readers that I am not getting anything for doing this either in payment, goods, or services. I am a regular customer.
Please drink responsibly and thanks for stopping by.
When I was little one of the things I loved doing with my great aunts who lived in South Philadelphia at 11th and Ritner was go to not only the Italian market, but to the little grocery store on the corner a few blocks away called Alberts.
Albert’s wasn’t a large store, it was literally a little corner grocery store. But because it was in Italian neighborhoods they had many things you couldn’t find a normal grocery stores. And it was so fun to go in and look up down and sideways as a little kid to see everything they had. I kind of had that experience again today as an adult.
My friends have been telling me to go check out George McLoughlin’s Tasty Table Market and Catering at 10 Leopard Road in Berwyn. Now George never knew it until today but back in the day I had been a patron of another business he owned. And back then that business had catered events I went to including Shipley reunions. The food was phenomenal then and truthfully it’s only gotten better!
I went in to pick up some things for dinner and ended up getting myself lunch. I had this chicken sandwich that was transformative. It is the Chicken Pickle Brioche Sandwich. It was a lightly fried yet super moist chicken breast and Swiss on a brioche roll with this fabulous purple slaw with just a little bit of bacon and pickles. I think everybody should try this sandwich!
For dinner I got a steak salad, a salmon, and a chicken entree. I also picked up fresh guacamole and this lovely artichoke dip. But of course because this is also a little market I got some other goodies like a fig balsamic vinegar and fabulous olive oil. And a honey comb and Le Bus bread—-I haven’t purchased bread since March I’ve been making it. Oh and a lovely espresso! I couldn’t pass that up!!
And one of the things I liked best about my visit today was speaking with George the owner. It’s been so long since I have spoken with anyone who was excited about anything. George McLoughlin is happy and positive and psyched about the challenge of re-thinking his business. It was so awesome to spend time with him. His positivity is infectious.
And his food is so good. And fresh. And the staff is as nice as George is! And they know the food they are serving. Because what I find very frustrating especially when I visit a new place is you ask a question and they make a face and say “well I don’t know“ and you’re thinking to yourself how can you not know you work here? But there is NONE of that at Tasty Table. You can tell everyone likes being there and that speaks volumes.
Now that I’ve been to the delightful market being created, I will be back. They even carry my favorite sugar cubes for coffee and tea, La Perruche. I haven’t been able to find them locally in a very long time so I am psyched they carry them!
Oh and don’t forget to try the peanut butter cookies and brownies. 😊 And there are gluten free options as well!
I have written about Magnolia Cottage Shop before￼, but it really is quickly becoming a favorite place so I thought I would post some photos. I went to pick something up there today and I just love it. It’s nice to have a store that has a wonderfully curated selection of gifts with all sorts of antique and vintage mixed in. ￼
Magnolia Cottage Shop￼￼ is located at 288 Lancaster Avenue in Malvern/Frazer. Their phone number is 484- 320-8022.
The owner really goes out of her way to have fun things that you just don’t find every place else. One of the things she carries which I really like are the Wickit Good Candles. They are a hand poured craft candle with Chester County roots but are hand-crafted at the Jersey shore.
Wickit Good Candles have wonderful scents that are not overpowering and overwhelming. I like a candle that gives you a waft of a beautiful fragrance, not something that smacks you in the face and smells like grandma’s old potpourri.￼
For those planning bridal showers and even baby showers in the spring, this is a great store to pick up presents that are fun and have whimsy. ￼
They also have monogramming available for things purchased in the shop￼ which I really like because they are bringing in these bags which will make awesome shopping totes or beach/pool bags.￼ I don’t know about you but I’d rather carry my vegetables from the farmers market in a cute bag!￼
And I am my mother’s daughter in that regard…. I just love monograms and personalization.￼
So if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out Magnolia Cottage Shop, also keep in mind that they do things like offer small group workshops, classes, demonstrations and even some Young Rembrandts Chester County children’s art classes￼￼!
We then traveled into Malvern for their Christmas event and had a great time navigating the wonderful stores and meeting their owners!
We went to Brick and Brew and after being told of a 45 min wait- we left and went to Christopher’s and were immediately seated with exceptional food and service (I recalled the blog you once wrote and I agree) .
Anyway thank you for your blog and for helping members of your community enjoy local events, stores and restaurants!🎄🖋
This means a lot to me. As I tell people everytime I write about a business or service or place, good bad or indifferent, I write from the perspective of a regularcustomer. I am not a compensated blogger.
If I enjoy an event, it’s because I attend it, and not just as a blogging assignment.
Earlier this year I was targeted by someone with a local business because my opinion, based upon my visit as a regular customer, was mixed. They took to the business’s Facebook page about me and then basically allowed anyone and everyone to trash me.
For a few weeks I literally also received obscene and even threatening and harassing messages. (Now those people are not the fault of whomever posted about me on social media from the business. People are just odd keyboard tigers on social media and any excuse will do.) I will also note that when it first happened, I reached out to the business as in telephoned them in an effort to discuss this. But sadly, they never contacted me back. They also amusingly removed comments to them that told them they were out of line or they had also had similar experiences.
When this happened, I also reached out to the appropriate local business association. Twice. Not even an acknowledgement that I contacted them. I also reached out to the group’s president individually because well, they know who I am and family members were customers years ago. No acknowledgement there, either.
I pay it forward by shopping local and dining local. But after my experience this summer, the whole episode made me feel unwelcome where I live.
But this one kind note today made me realize that paying it forward honestly is not a bad thing. These small businesses and events I so enjoy deserve our community support.
So thank you to the note writer for reminding me that nothing can take the place of shopping local.
Resellers in Frazer on Route 30 is closing. The shopping center has been sold.
I am sure the warehouse and shopping center will be bulldozed for some form of progress some developer thinks is fabulous but what we are losing are local businesses and what about our post office?
Condos and apartment buildings and chain stores and big box stores will never, ever replace local businesses. Resellers has been one of my favorite businesses in Chester County.
My last purchase save a couple of Santa Lucia straw Christmas ornaments today was my reading chair:
Resellers was one of those places that you could go and find the unexpected and unique. From furniture to art to dishes to shabby chic oriental rugs, from the moment you walked through the doors into the cavernous warehouse space, the possibilities were endless.
And no, places like the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne can’t compete. And besides the Velvet Shoestring in Wayne lost me in the fall at the lack of hello. (There is nothing like being the sole, solitary customer in a store for over 20 minutes with multiple not so busy employees behind the front desk who are seemingly only capable of staring at you but not speaking to you that will permanently turn you off to a business.)
If you love Resellers, their time is limited, so go in before they are gone.
Meet our giant white paperweight. Sears delivered a BRAND NEW BROKEN, yes BROKEN refrigerator. They refused to come back and pick it up even though we called within MINUTES of the truck leaving our driveway.
Today was just a day.
Our pretty Samsung refrigerator went on life support and repairs would have been easily more than half of a new refrigerator so we opted to replace it.
We have always done the bulk of our appliance shopping over the past few years from the Sears Outlet online. My husband liked dealing with them…I had no issues until today, either.
Let’s back up to we ordered the new refrigerator. Nothing fancy, a Kenmore side by side with ice and water on the door. We figured we would go with something we thought could get repaired in case of an issue.
Up until a few years ago, when you got a new appliance, they took the old appliance away. Not anymore. So we had to hire our favorite movers (Lite Movers of Wayne, PA and they are awesome) to come move the dying fridge out of the house pending pick up from PECO who does appliance recycling (it has to run when it is plugged in still, which the old one does.)
Fast forward until today. They came to deliver the Sears refrigerator. What they will do now is unbox it and move it into place, the rest is on the customer. It was quite the ordeal to get everything moved and prepped and ready as ours is an older home.
The delivery guys couldn’t have been nicer. They unboxed it and pointed out a scratch in the white door. That was no biggie as it was nothing a little appliance touch up paint couldn’t cover.
The delivery guys plugged it in and were on their way. Then I went to open the refrigerator door. It would not open. The freezer door opened fine, but the refrigerator side? BROKEN. Son of a bitch we just paid to have a dying appliance replaced with a broken appliance. Yes, I am cursing, it has been a very special day.
Immediately we are on the phone to Sears. Only you CANNOT get a person in the US on the phone. All people in offshore call centers reading from scripts that tell you that they “completely understand” how you are feeling. Uhh no, you couldn’t possibly understand. Trust me.
After four frustrating calls where all I get is the Philippines and they can’t help and they want me to talk to the outlet store in Norristown, PA. Norristown isn’t going to help me, I ordered ONLINE. Oh and they keep mispronouncing my name. Which is incredibly offensive after the 6th mispronounce in one conversation.
These helpful offshore call center employees of Sears may be fluent in English to a point, but they are not native speakers. English is a second language and they just aren’t comprehending what is being said, and can’t go off script. They also can’t (or maybe it’s won’t?) transfer your call BACK to the U.S. Every other cheap American company which utilizes offshore labor has the ability to transfer you BACK to a U.S. call center if that is what you want, even Comcast, which I think has some of the absolute worst customer service ever.
I go to trusty Google and Google the corporate offices of Sears. Aha! An actual address and phone number with a recognizable U.S. area code.
But no. You dial and you get…the Philippines. So I keep dialing. ONE time out of about two dozen calls I get someone in Illinois. I think they were related to the Seinfeld Soup Nazi of days gone by they were so rude. “You listen to me,” the operator says. “I am going to talk and then you can speak. You are going to listen to ME. I am not listening to you.”
I try to explain to the operator I would like to speak with someone in the Executive Offices specifically having to do with serious customer service issues. The operator told me that essentially those people would not speak with me. I can’t remember the exact phraseology but it was probably the rudest switchboard operator since they first were handling one ringy dingy. They were so bad I wished I had recorded the conversation. I ended the call and tried calling back to get someone, anyone to help me.
Yeah…. so….. no…. just more Phillipines. (And you know why these call centers are in off shore and third world countries, right? It is so they can pay employees super duper low wages and get away with it. Cheap labor.
So I started looking around for other people to speak with. They say Eddie Lampert is the CEO or President or Chairman of the Board. Only you can’t speak with him or anyone in his office, all you get is a voicemail in Illinois that never calls anyone back. I have to wonder if anyone listens to it. There is also this chick, Leena Munjal
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience and Integrated Retail. She is unable to come to the phone as well. Very busy important people. Me the peon should just know better, right?
So I kept Googling. Apparently Mr. Fast Eddie Lampert is just a hedge fund guy. Yep, just another hedge fund guy picking the carcass of a business clean for their own profits, right?
Hedge funds have been failing over the last year at the fastest rate since the financial crisis in 2008. Some crashed and burned after sudden reversals. Others quietly liquidated.
Then there’s Edward S. Lampert’s ESL Investments. It hasn’t failed, but may be setting a benchmark for slow, painful declines thanks to its outsize, long-term bet on two venerable retailers, Sears and Kmart.
Last week, Sears Holdings, the parent company, said what was becoming increasingly obvious to most investors, not to mention anyone who’s been in a Sears store lately: “Substantial doubt exists related to the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”….Mr. Lampert was a Wall Street wunderkind, a Goldman Sachs intern whose intellect, ingratiating personality and prodigious work ethic attracted the patronage of some of America’s most prominent and successful investors…founded ESL in 1988 with $28 million in seed money …
Did I expect to get anyone to speak with me? No, but it has been the day from hell with Sears so what did I have to lose? I was kind of curious as to what they would say.
Years ago, I worked for a couple of years for a now-defunct hedge fund. So I knew whomever answered the phone would be snotty pants the receptionist. She did not disappoint. She was superior to little old me in every way…on the phone.
Whatevs. I admit I was unpleasant and irritating. But in my own defense, I have a dying refrigerator outside pending pick up for disposal, and a giant white albatross paperweight of a broken yet new refrigerator in my kitchen, which I now have to pay to have moved out of my kitchen so Sears can retrieve it. I cook, I like a neat house and everything looks like hell in a hand basket.
Apparently it is too much to ask to have a WORKING REFRIGERATOR DELIVERED BY SEARS!!!
I now know no more Sears for anything. I understand why so many Sears and Kmart stores have closed. I understand why people said to me we should have called Queen, or D & K, or Gerhard’s or another local appliance store…or even Lowe’s or Home Depot.
Sears sucks. I hope the hedge fund prince of an owner enjoys his lovely estates. I hope someone involves them and Sears in a giant class action lawsuit some day. For the crappy customer service alone and the inability to talk to anyone pleasant in the U.S. they deserve no less.
Don’t buy a paperclip from Sears.
Sign me disgusted by yet another U.S. business that is being killed by a hedge fund.
The West Chester Growers Market is the mother of all the locally sourced, outdoor farmers’ markets we know in this area. (Or that is my opinion.) They started right where they are now, at the corner of Church Street and Chestnut Streets in downtown West Chester Borough. They are, save one exception I will get to, a producers only market. As the market says on their website:
Producer-only requires that the fruits, vegetables, herbs, plants, beef, pork, eggs, flowers we have to offer you be farmed by the farmer that you meet at market; that the cheeses, salsas, sauces, pies, jams, pasta, honey, breads be sold to you by the local artisans who make them.
I was honored to be asked to be part of the West Chester Growers Market’s July 30th “Know Your Farmer: Chef and Media Event”. It was great to be among the ranks of local chefs, food writers, and well-known local food bloggers.
Last Saturday was brutally packed, but as I arrived for event check-in a little after 9:00 a.m., the market was already jam packed with customers. As I walked down a rear alley that T-bones the alley directly behind the market, the happy cacophony of people enjoying their morning, the market, and chatting with the farmers and artisan vendors could be heard floating in the morning air.
I will be honest, parking was a challenge. That is not the fault of the market, that is a chronic problem with the Borough of West Chester, unfortunately.
My first stop was a place that isn’t yet a place which is new to the market. The “West Chester Food Co-Op.” They are the non-producer with a place at the market.
Yes, I have been open about my skepticism. Can’t help it, given the chair of the “co-op” board and her position as Secretary of the West Chester Borough Planning Commission. I mean let’s get real: if it smells a wee bit political, it may well be political, right? I didn’t get when I commented way back when how they were asking for “donations” when they were not a non-profit and that is perfectly reasonable. If you are asking for money, and you ask for “donations”, it is what people naturally think.
I heard about them seeking a building and location and so on, and more asking for “donations”. So if they are NOT a non-profit, does that make those who invest shareholders with ownership rights in the new business? If the business goes nowhere, are people refunded their investment? And again, why call it a “donation” if you are in fact some sort of shareholder investing?
Anyway, when I last expressed my opinion on a co-op that doesn’t really exist the knives and scissors came out from some. So, sigh, I expect it again. But I have to ask are my questions/concerns so extraordinary? Seems to me a lot of people have them.
So, anyway, I thought I would be fair and give them a shot to tell me about themselves and answer my questions. I wouldn’t be rude, but they are part of the market as of 2016, so I figured why not talk to them? (I will note they did not seem to participate in this market initiative, but benefited from it.) I went up to their table which was in the alley next to Queens Farm.
They had sweet kids as volunteers and the woman in charge of the co-op who is on the West Chester Borough Planning Commission was in attendance.
The kids volunteering couldn’t answer my questions (including how they came to be at the market when they were not well, an actual producer) and I was told she was too busy to speak with me. The kids were nervous seemingly to tell me that, so I thanked them ans said another time then.
O.K. so I went about my business but will also note that I brought people with me to the market on Saturday who don’t blog, they don’t know about the co-op and one person said when we were in the car leaving that they wished the food co-op luck because the people at their table were rude to them. These are people that were completely unbiased and open to the concept of a food co-op as they have been exposed to them in other stages of their lives.
The make-believe food co-op was the only negative of this whole event. I remember a food co-op from when I was little. It was a really cool place. I like them, I just don’t get these people and what their eventual end game actually is. And Saturday would have been their ideal and perfect opportunity to change MY mind. They did not achieve that, sadly.
The West Chester Growers Market event was incredibly positive, so back to that. Sorry, I just feel badly that actual producers put their hearts and souls into their products that they bring to market to sell. The space that “co-op” takes up could go to another farm. To me that is depriving the general public and taking money OUT of a farmer’s pocket.
Anyway, I had an awesome time at West Chester Growers Market on Saturday. It is one of my haunts, and I love so many of the producers there.
Some of my personal favorites include Yellow Springs Farm, North Star Orchard, Blueberry Hill Farm, Applied Climatology, A Taste of Puebla, Queens Farm, Lizzie’s Kitchen, Fahnstock Fruit Farm, Big Sky Bread, Maiale Deli and Salumeria, Big Hill Ciderworks, Read Earth Farm, Maple Hill Farm, and Chile Spot. I know, I know that is like most of the market. But these people are awesome, and they remember their customers which is something in today’s world I personally love. That added personal touch, remembering what you like.
Take Lizzie the Amish Lady from Lizzie’s Kitchen, who said to me “You are one of those people too?” meaning I was one of the writers/bloggers. I smiled and said yes and then we spoke about what she was preserving and baking. We spoke about Shoo Fly Pie, because hers is one of the only ones I actually like and will buy. My maternal grandmother was Pennsylvania German so I am picky about my Amish/Pennsylvania German Foods. We had a conversation about canning, something I have taken up again on a limited basis (I know my limits!) and the milk delivery service I use (Doorstep Dairy – they are awesome!)
I also hung out with the North Star Orchard folks. Lisa Kerschner and her staff are as nice as they are knowledgeable. Their products are amazing, and on Saturday they had their beets. They grow these multicolored beets which are as spectacularly flavorful as beautiful. These beets are their own home grown/ developed variety. I love when they are in season because I especially love roasting them and serving them in a salad with Chèvre from Yellow Springs Farm.
The salad I made Sunday with what I got from North Star and Yellow Springs!
And yes, one of my next stops was to visit Catherine at The Yellow Springs Farm Booth. Yellow Springs Farm is one of my favorite places on earth, and I also patronize them at the local markets. I have known Farmer Catherine for many years at this point – we knew each other before her farming days began and she is one of my favorite people and her husband is such a lovely man. I not only buy their cheese, but their yogurt, soaps, and many of their native plants grow happily in my garden! (And they let me photograph the mama goats and the new kids in the spring!)
I also have to give a big shout out to Vera Pasta. I make a lot of my own pasta but their artisan pastas are divine! Their ravioli in particular!
And did I mention the most adorable Jack Russel puppy ever? The West Chester Growers Market is pet friendly, so if you are a dog lover, you see some amazing pups.
And now some photos. Enjoy them. And support the West Chester Growers Market. It is an amazing group of people. I look so forward to being a regular customer for decades to come! These are our farmers, and in Chester County we need to support our agricultural heritage. You can’t get fresh produce from a row of plastic McMansions, after all.
The West Chester Growers Market is one of the finest local examples of what the locavore movement is all about. Know your farmers, know your producers. Support them and shop local.