Mrs. Wright opened her doors in a building that faced the municipal parking lot behind what is now CVS. She filled the shelves with stationary, greeting cards, linens and home décor with an Early American feel. Less than a month later, the store was threatened by a fire next door that burned Paul Doucette’s furniture store to the ground. Despite this auspicious start, The Hitching Post prospered and a few years later moved to the 600 block on Main Street in Reading Center. In 1975, the store moved to its present location at 190 Haven Street in the historic M.F. Charles Building.
The Hitching Post has undergone many transformations with each of its five owners. Current owner Leslie Leahy has focused on bringing in unique items from local artisans and products made in the USA. One of the most popular lines in the store is Hagen Gallery of Peabody, MA. This local family-run business creates beautiful jewelry handmade from Swarovski crystal and Venetian glass. In addition to their jewelry line, Hagen Gallery also offers various products featuring the original artwork of Gina Hagen. You can find Gina’s watercolors on notecards, mugs, mouse pads, t-shirts and framed prints. The Hitching Post commissioned Gina to do a series of watercolors depicting Reading landmarks; currently the collection includes Parker Tavern, Old South United Methodist Church, Reading Library, Reading Town Hall and the Holiday Lights on Reading common. These beautiful scenes bring to life the essence of Reading.
In addition, Hagen Gallery partnered with The Hitching Post to use the original paintings to raise funds for Parker Tavern, the Reading Library, the Reading Food Pantry and the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce Holiday Lighting Fund.
For the past 50 years The Hitching Post has been an active member of the Reading community supporting numerous clubs, organizations and events within the community. In 2003 Leahy partnered with other small business owners in Reading Center to create “Shop the Block” which has become an annual holiday tradition in town. Her commitment to the community has not gone unnoticed; The Hitching Post has received several awards including the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce Community Partner Award, the Founders Award from Creative Arts of Reading, the Make New Friends Award from the Reading Girl Scouts and a certificate of Appreciation from the Reading Historical Commission. The store twice published community cookbooks which were sold to benefit Reading Elder Services and the Mission of Deeds.
Leahy is most proud of the stores involvement with the Friends of Mel Foundation and Diane’s Pen Pals. Both organizations provide much needed financial support for cancer research and patient assistance. The Friends of Mel have honored The Hitching Post with a commemorative brick in the Boston Cancer Garden of Hope in recognition of their fundraising efforts.
As a board member of the Reading-North Reading Chamber of Commerce, Leahy is an active with the chamber’s Buy Local campaign, an initiative to bring awareness to the importance of supporting the independent small businesses that are the backbone of our community.
The Hitching Post invites you to celebrate this milestone on Saturday, September 29, 2012. Special promotions will be offered throughout the day – enter to win a $50 gift certificate and take advantage of Gold Tag Specials. Experience the mastery of Mr. Balloon Wizard from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM meet some of the former owners and enjoy light refreshments from local businesses.