From The Director's Desk
Editorial Views and Opinions
Last Galliard in Brookline
ASW moves to a new home
It hardly seems possible, but after twenty-one years at our present location in Brookline, Antique Sound Workshop will be moving in late October, lock, stock, and barrel organ, to a beautiful, spacious new home in the historic town of Plymouth, some fifty miles south of Boston. Indeed, as this issue of Chrestologia is being taken to the Brookline Post Office for distribution to our thousands of domestic and international customers, we are already busily involved in packing up all of our belongings and inventory in preparation for the long-anticipated Great Move.
Because of the many factors involved in the planning and execution of this monumental undertaking, this last Brookline issue of our customer newsmagazine is being sent out a month later than usual (mid-October rather than mid-September). Therefore, all of the sale prices on instruments listed herein will be valid through the end of November, although this is still technically our "October" issue.
As those of you who have visited our home workshop in our tiny and cramped quarters in Brookline can well attest, we had in point of fact outgrown our in-town location a good many years ago. We have had historical instruments squirreled away in every possible nook and cranny as well as at other locations both on and off site. Although we have always tried to have as large a number of instruments on display as space permitted, it was never possible to have more than a small percentage of our total inventory available for our customers to peruse. In retrospect we probably should have moved a decade or more ago, but the thought of having to pack up and move our thousands of instruments had caused us to put off that daunting task for as long as possible. Our standing excuse was "not this year but perhaps next year".
It would seem that we have finally reached critical mass and it has become virtually impossible to put off our long-avoided relocation any longer. We have been at this address in Brookline for over two decades and have many close ties to this town and to the Boston area at large, but the time has indeed come for us to move to newer, larger quarters that will allow us to operate our business more efficiently and serve our customers much more effectively.
We did, of course, consider staying in the metropolitan Boston area, but expansion at our present location was simply not feasible and the cost of relocating within the city was prohibitive. Then, too, the greatest proportion of our business has always been out-of-state. Since the beginning of our business, only 5% of our sales have been within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; the remainder has been from the other forty-nine states and, in recent years, an increasing number of customers in Canada, Mexico, and overseas. An in-town storefront operation has never been either necessary or desirable for a highly-specialized business such as ours which is truly national and international rather than local or regional in scope.
A few facts and figures about our new home might be of interest to our readers. Most Massachusetts residents are themselves unaware that Plymouth is in fact the largest city or town in the state in terms of land area. It is a good twenty miles in length north to south and almost as wide, a town of beautiful, unspoiled forests and numerous freshwater lakes and ponds of varying sizes, not to mention a large number of cranberry bogs.
We will be located in Cedarville, the southernmost part of Plymouth, which is fifty-three miles south of the center of Boston and the same distance east of Providence. We are actually a good thirteen miles south of the town of Plymouth itself, but only two miles north of the Sagamore Bridge which leads to Cape Cod. Our new location is about one mile from the ocean, but just a stone's throw from one of the larger ponds, on which we have private boating and beach rights to share with our out-of-town visitors. Our new home is also thirty miles east of the old whaling city of New Bedford and forty-three miles east of Fall River of Lizzie Borden fame. This macabre event in American history, still apparently unresolved and not without its present-day parallels, was the inspiration for a number of musical compositions, including Morton Gould's wonderful but challenging ballet "Fall River Legend" as well as an eminently forgettable Broadway musical with one memorably rousing chorus number, "You can't chop your mother up in Massachusetts." Such legal niceties apparently do not apply in the state of California, if the Menendez brothers are any indication.
We can be easily reached from Boston, Providence, and Cape Cod, being less than one minute's drive from exit 2 on Route 3, the major highway leading from Boston to Cape Cod and readily accessible to I-195 and I-495 from the West as well. It will actually be much easier for out-of-state customers to visit us in Plymouth than in Boston, where navigation by automobile is at once virtually impossible (unless one has lived here for thirty years and knows one's way around) and hazardous to one's physical and mental well-being. In addition, parking space is hard to come by at best and at some times simply nonexistent.
Plymouth, of course, is best known as a mecca for American and foreign visitors who flock to the town by the hundreds of thousands to see where it all began. Plymouth promotes itself as "America's Hometown," although admittedly several other towns in the United States (Jamestown, Virginia and Provincetown, Massachusetts, come to mind immediately) might also have a claim to this title. We would prefer not to get drawn into that particular battle.
At any rate we will be situated far away from the year-round hoards of tourists who come to Plymouth to view Plymouth Rock, which resides in an elaborate portico, board the Mayflower II, a full-scale seaworthy reproduction of the Pilgrims' original vessel, visit Plimoth Plantation, a large-scale open air museum recreating life in small town America in the 1620's (somewhat like Colonial Williamsburg but on a smaller and more primitive scale), and immerse themselves in the atmosphere of the town which is generally acknowledged to be the first permanent settlement by immigrants from the Old World in mainland America.
What is quite amazing about the town of Plymouth is that it has managed to develop a healthy tourism without having become a tacky tourist trap, as has sadly happened to so many other American scenic and historical venues. The charming downtown main street, which has many beautiful buildings of historical and architectural interest, is still a real place with real stores where real people can shop for real merchandise and transact real business, rather than the appalling mile of end-to-end trashy shops selling trinkets and T-shirts to tourists at inflated prices that it might have become.
Even on the waterfront, one block away, commercial development has been well-controlled; several handsome restaurants serving excellent food at reasonable prices have plate glass windows with spectacular panoramic views of the large, well-protected harbor, which is presumably why the Pilgrims decided to drop anchor there. I am referring, of course, to the harbor, not the restaurants. Apparently the Pilgrim fathers were not into haute cuisine, judging by the surviving records of their culinary accomplishments. One suspects that the reality of the First Thanksgiving was considerably less glamorous than romanticized legends would have us believe and several light years removed from our present celebrations, with their primary emphasis on eating and drinking far too much and watching the enactment of primitive warfare rituals on television. Fast food joints, we are happy to report, are few and far between and nicely camouflaged as well. A few blocks north, Ocean Spray Cranberry (which is a growers' collective, incidentally) has a large public information center where visitors can learn from an overwhelming number of exhibits far more than they would ever want to know about this quintessentially tart New England fruit.
As to the timing of our move, we will be open for business at our old stand in Brookline through Friday, October 14th. From Monday, October 24th, our new address will be:
Antique Sound Workshop, Ltd.
70 Lakewood Drive
Plymouth, MA 02360-1921
phone: (508) 833-3979
fax: (508) 833-3760
As at our old location, customers from out of town and out of state are cordially welcome to visit us at our new home in Plymouth. However, we do ask that you call us well in advance and make an appointment for a specific day and time, in order to insure that we will be able to receive you. We do suggest, however, that you plan to spend at least an entire day in Plymouth on your way to or from Cape Cod. There is truly a great deal to see and do in this beautiful town, and we look forward to sharing the numerous attractions and joys of our new home with our visitors in the months and years to come.
In closing, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to those thousands of customers who, over the course of the past two decades, have made Antique Sound Workshop the business and artistic success that it has been. Your loyal sponsorship and encouragement have made our pending move to larger quarters not only possible but also necessary. This new milestone in the history of our firm would not have been attainable without a broad, secure customer base, and we are greatly appreciative of your continuing support and patronage.
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