The Tinker’s Cart has been located in Clinton, MA for over 20 years. The business started when John Hughes began importing goods from Ireland in the early ‘80s. What began as vending at a vast array of Irish festivals throughout the country led to pop up shops and seasonal locations in New England Malls. This resulted in John and his daughter Cheryl opening their first year-round retail location in 1997.
Cheryl has been maintaining the business since John’s passing in 2016. It’s been a labor of love but with declining foot traffic and internet sales, Cheryl had made the difficult decision to close the long-held family business after the holidays this year. However, due to an unexpected and serendipitous turn of events, the business has relocated and is now thriving.
Cheryl describes passing through nearby Worcester one day before Christmas. “I was driving through Kelly Square one day and noticed a brand new building. I was intrigued by the bright yellow awnings. I thought it was a farmer’s market, but my interest was piqued.” An offhand inquiry resulted in learning more about this amazing marketplace. Slated to open in early February, the new Worcester Public Market is a multi-vendor, food-oriented marketplace in the European tradition, featuring produce, meat, seafood, cheese, baked goods, deli goods, vegan products, flowers, a local brewery, and a variety of restaurants. 48 loft apartments are situated above the marketplace. It is located right on legendary Kelley Square, in the heart of Worcester’s Canal District.
The Kelly Square neighborhood is undergoing a very exciting transformation. Being built right next door is a new ball park and 2 hotels. Polar Park will be the home of the Worcester Red Sox, a minor league baseball team in the Triple-A International League that will relocate from Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The addition of the Woo Sox to the neighborhood will only enhance the market’s popularity.
Cheryl says that shopping habits have changed. “Although people may shop more online, they are flocking to breweries, farmer’s markets, and restaurants,” she says. “Being in the heart of the marketplace has been hugely beneficial for us. Sales have been brisk since we opened’ it’s a real breath of fresh air.” The reception Cheryl has received has been welcoming and heartwarming. “I feel I am introducing Irish and Celtic products to a whole new demographic. The brewery attracts many young people especially with Worcester being home to 9 colleges and universities. They have not had much exposure to the goods we carry but are admiring and purchasing. It gives me hope for those producing Irish wares and those selling them.”
The Tinker’s Cart, Worcester Public Market, 152 Green St. Worcester, MA 01604