Chichester and Epsom aren’t short on places to go shopping. While there may not be one huge center of town where all the commerce is grouped together, there are many retail outlets sprinkled throughout each of these towns.
The Insider has long been a fan of pawn shops, secondhand shops, yard sales and any places that carry cool, weird and unusual stuff. It was, in that case, only a matter of time before we found one of those kinds of places to wander into.
Friendly Guy Traders
Friendly Guy Traders, much like the Insider, is a one-man show. Owner Aaron Robidas mostly does it all at the shop, though he does concede that the missus does pitch in from time to time.
The shop deals in pretty much everything except for firearms. You might see an antique rifle or two sitting around the shop, but Robidas insists those aren’t for sale and are just for decoration.
The store looks small from the outside, but there are two floors full of merchandise, and unlike a lot of pawn shops, this one is actually clean and well-organized. There’s also merchandise out front – last week there were two cars and a couple of boats for sale in the front lot.
Inside, you’ll find a little bit of everything. Robidas has a large selection of DVDs and Blu Rays right in the front of the store, where a customer was poking around during out visit. There are also glass display cases up front featuring some rare coins, jewelry and a decent lineup of locally handmade knives.
When you go upstairs, it feels like you’re walking into a professional music or electronics shop, as a row of big TVs greets you as soon as you come up. As you turn your head, you’ll see several stands holding electric and acoustic guitars as well as basses. On tables there are instruments like saxophones and even a sitar. Guitar amps, cases and other accessories line the walls.
“I always have several guitars, horns,” Robidas said. Clearly, he wasn’t lying.
Among the noteworthy instruments was a G&L Tribute ASAT Classic, a tribute to the iconic Fender Telecaster. The G&L goes for about $500 new, but Friendly Guy had a blue one in great shape, complete with hardshell case, for $369, which was tempting enough to make me think about it for a solid few minutes.
While most of the products for sale come from people in the community who have sold the items to the shop, Robidas does a bit of shopping, too. The handmade knives, for instance, all come from the person who makes them. There are also some taxidermy animals in the store, such as a huge turkey, that he has bought. There are also the antique items that sit on top of many of the display cases around the shop – these are there for the aesthetic, not to be sold, Robidas said.
True to its name, the shop also offers pawn services. The difference between pawning and selling is when you want to sell something, it immediately becomes property of the store and can be sold right away. A pawn, on the other hand, is a collateral loan – you give the shop an item and the shop gives you some money. If you can’t pay back the money, along with the 20 percent interest that comes with it, the item becomes property of the shop after a certain period of time (people can usually re-up the loan period for an additional fee). The practice is more common than you might think.
“It’s close to 60 percent of what we do,” Robidas said.
Regarding the vehicles out front – there was a Chrysler Crossfire and a Subaru Outback for sale last week – Robidas said they do plenty of automobile sales. Most are sold as is, and often Robidas just takes a quick look at them rather than giving them a rigorous inspection. That said, he’s trying to make money, so he doesn’t want any old beat-up station wagon left over from the ‘80s.
The store also carries several automotive-related items inside, such as jacks, tool kits, a motorcycle helmet, accent lights and other accessories. There are also generators, fishing rods, leather jackets, drones, stuffed bears, bar signs, rocking horses and pretty much everything else in between.
And the name fits – Robidas proved to be a very friendly guy, and he even recommended I try the Circle Restaurant, which proved to be a solid recommendation.
If you’re interested in buying, selling or pawning anything, check out Friendly Guy Traders at 1188 Suncook Valley Highway (Route 28) in Epsom. They’re also on Facebook, and you can call the shop at 736-0013.
For the Love of Dogs Everywhere
Pets are big business, and Susan Garand, owner of For the Love of Dogs Everywhere in Chichester, is looking to cater to that very big market. She’s a dog lover first and foremost, but she also knows a thing or two about running a business, and this is one she’s passionate about.
“This is all startup; it’s all me,” Garand said. “I didn’t want to be part of corporate America anymore.”
That’s why she started her own business. For the Love of Dogs Everywhere opened Jan. 2 of this year, and it’s been a dream-come-true kind of project for Garand.
“I’ve loved dogs for 40-plus years,” she said. “There’s something about them that’s endearing, and I wanted to give an ode to them. I wanted to have a store where I have a little bit for everything for dogs.”
The store carries a wide variety of dog food, including brands like Open Farm, which use humanely and sustainably sourced ingredients. With the recent report of certain dog foods potentially being linked to heart disease, Garand makes sure to always carry several products that are all-natural and free of artificial ingredients or over-processed meats.
The store goes well beyond food, though. This is a full-service dog-care store, meaning you can get beds, bowls, leashes, toys, treats, life jackets, training aids, brushes, cleaning products – pretty much, if a dog can use it, she carries it.
It’s a mission that’s close to her heart. As a lifelong dog lover, Garand has also experienced some significant losses, particularly that of her dog Emma, a chow.
“That dog is why I’m doing this,” Garand said, moisture building up in the corner of her eyes. “Keeping her memory alive.”
Emma was so special to Garand that she worked the dog into the store’s logo. The logo is a paw print with four toes, and a depiction of Emma is in the center of the print, surrounded by depictions of four other dogs from Garand’s life, including her brother’s dog, who can often be found hanging around the shop.
The store is a tribute to the power of the connections people have with dogs. When you have a relationship with your dog the way Garand had with hers, it’s easy to see why a store that sells nothing but dog supplies would do well. Garand listens to her customers, too, and tries to keep the store stocked with what people want.
“I’m trying to put in things I can comfortably sell,” she said. “I’d rather carry stuff that people are going to buy,” adding that she’s always asking her customers what they like and what they’re looking for.
Stop by For the Love of Dogs Everywhere at 114 Dover Road in Chichester. For more info, go to luvallk9s.com or call 961-0037.
If you’re in need of a relaxing experience, something to really put you back on track, check out Chichester Massage & Bodywork Center.
Chichester Massage just won the 2019 Cappies award for best massage (they also won in 2014), so we figured we’d drop in and see what they’re all about. This is a massage parlor that offers a full range of services, including chair massage, hot stone massage, Reiki, craniosacral therapy and more. Not being a massage kind of guy, most of those words were completely foreign to me, but apparently they’re fairly standard services for a massage parlor, said Amy Eldridge Troy, a licensed massage therapist who works there.
The building – right next door to For the Love of Dogs Everywhere – gives off a relaxing vibe as soon as you walk in, with white noise in the background and a pleasant scent in the air. You get the impression that you shouldn’t be too loud, which, when I was there, was true – someone was getting a massage down the hall and they certainly didn’t want to hear me.
The room I was shown continued the relaxing vibe, with low lighting and a general cozy feeling throughout the room. Diagrams of the human body adorned the walls.
It wasn’t long after I walked in that Troy’s client showed up, so it was the shortest visit of any of the stops in these towns, but if you’re looking to unwind in a big way, try this place, located at 114 Dover Road, Chichester. For more, go to chichestermassage.com.