When you walk into Brookline News and Gifts, you step into the classic five and dime store of yesteryear. The crowded shelves are almost over run with magazines, gift cards, gift wrap, board games, toys, watches, cigars, pipes, sunglasses, shot glasses and all kinds of witty collectable gifts.
Folks come in for their scratch tickets and stay for the conversation with Sam Patel, whose family purchased Brookline News and Gifts from the original owner five years ago. “It feels like a real village around here,” Patel said. “This is a great community.”
Cliff Bouvier, a barber up the street at Crew International stopped in for his lottery tickets and talked about the old days of Brookline News and Gifts. “Everybody used to come in here from the Winter Hill Gang to Bill Clinton,” Bouvier said. “This shop is a real landmark in town.”
Brookline News and Gifts, which opened in 1963, has always been a family owned store. Vinny Patel, Sam’s uncle, bought the shop in 2008 and kept the feel of the store as true to the original as possible. “Since Sam and Vinny took over the store, they cleaned up the space in here,” Bouvier said. “Back in the day, it used to be so jam packed with stuff, you wouldn’t be able to walk past the counter.” (See the image gallery to get a better sense of the cluster.)
Sam knew most of his customers by name as he tended to their respective needs. “I can’t say enough about the community here. Every day there’s something new, a new customer, new students in town and old faces. This is a wonderful town.”