NFT Boston Shopping

Boston / Shopping

It's difficult to typecast Boston shoppers, due in part to the diversity of its people, from the Burberry-sporting, Beacon Hill elite to Cambridge funksters in paint-splattered Chuck Taylors. The city's climate (11 months of winter and four weeks of spring, summer, and fall) compels most Bostonians to spend their weekends popping into climate-controlled shops that range from uncomfortably exclusive to quietly quaint to downright weird. In addition to the extreme consumerist lifestyle of many of its dwellers, the city also has its fair share of psychotic, year-round outdoor athletes, for whom purveyors of gear appear throughout the city. The fleet of moving trucks clogging this college town on the first of every month from March through October keeps the furniture and houseware hawkers in business. Despite the few malls that have weaseled their way onto the scene, the dependable disparity and constant movement of the city results in a throbbing, colorful, and sometimes shocking mass of consumers.

Clothing: New, Used & Vintage
For the label checking, what-do-you-drive-yuppies in our midst, the Boston shopping scene certainly delivers. Start in the Back Bay on Berkeley Street at Louis Boston (Map 6), then head to Brooks Brothers (Map 6) around the corner on Newbury Street. More reasonably priced but still plenty preppy is Eddie Bauer (Map 3) downtown. On the other side of the coin, Boston has a ton to offer those seeking funkier duds -- you just need to know where to look. The Garment District (Map 28) in Cambridge is a gargantuan thrift/vintage store with everything from '60s sweaters to contemporary second-hand treasures, as well as new offerings from local designers. Just a few blocks over, Poor Little Rich Girl (Map 28) also has a great selection of vintage duds. Even upscale Newbury Street has its share of vintage chic -- the Army Barracks (Map 5) is an old fave. And Boston is really a walking city (you know, when it's not hailing), so outfit your feet with shoes from Berk's (Map 20) in Harvard Square, The Tannery (Map 6, 20) in Back Bay and Harvard Square, or Cambridge Clogs (Map 23) in Porter Square.

For the Home/Apartment/Dorm
Though driving through Brookline and Beacon Hill on September 2 -- after most apartments have been vacated, their perfectly usable furniture left on the curb -- is a fabulous way to outfit your own digs, you may wish to take a gander at the furniture 'n stuff offered throughout a city that's constantly turning over. If nothing else, you won't have to worry about that greenish blue stain on the free chair from the corner. Despite the terrific selection and prices offered by the obvious Crate & Barrel (Map 6, 27), beware the slalom of newly-engaged couples registering for gifts. Sunshine Lucy's (Map 22) in Davis Square and Circle Furniture (Map 21) in West Cambridge are locally owned joints offering a wide variety of furniture and appliances. Economy Hardware (Map 5, 16, 27) is a reliable bet for furniture, gadgets, even paint (oh, and hardware), but often comes with a complimentary headache. Check out counter-intuitive spots like Urban Outfitters (Map 5, 19, 20), Anthropologie (Map 6, 20), and Boutique Fabulous (Map 28) for finishing touches like pretty pillows, cool lamps, and funky artwork. Antique hunters will be kept happy at Cambridge Antique Market's (Map 26) five floors of yesteryear.

As the city most associated with a certain 26.2 mile race, Boston is well equipped to provide you with whatever you need to get your heart rate pumping. Marathon Sports (Map 6, 17, 20) lets you test drive their sneakers on the sidewalk to make sure you leave with exactly the right pair. Whatever the season, you can find what you're looking for at City Sports (Map 3, 6, 19, 20, 23). Boston's also a biker city (think pedals, not crotchrockets). Riders can get tune-ups, gear, and honest advice at International Bicycle Center (Map 19). REI (Map 16) and Eastern Mountain Sports (Map 5, 19, 20) are also good for bikes along with anything you might need for a cliff-hangin' good time.

Computing Machines
Thanks to its many universities, hospitals, and research facilities, Boston is awash with computer-loving dweebs. Micro Center (Map 27) is swarmed on the weekends. Three centrally located Best Buys (Map 16, 26) feature their usual merchandise and crowds. The PC-user-repellant Apple Store (Map 26) in the Cambridgeside Galleria is one stylin' geek boutique only matched by the three-story Apple Store (Map 6) that sits like a see-through shrine to Geekdom on Boylston Street.

Music Maniacs
The rise of the iPod has given Bostonians yet another excuse to avoid interaction with other humanoids who dare cross their path. But plenty of options still exist for those in search of discs, vinyl, and other types of tangible tunes. Newbury Comics (Map 2, 5, 20) delivers on their offer of "a wicked good time" with not only music, but movies, novelties, and general craziness. For those in search of vinyl, vintage, and generally hard-to-find tunes, stroll along Mass Ave in Cambridge to find Cheapo Records (Map 27) and Stereo Jack's (Map 20), as well as Somerville Grooves (Map 24) in the always hip Union Square. Comm Ave near BU and Harvard Square are also places to troll for rare stuff with stores like In Your Ear (Map 19), Nuggets (Map 16), and Planet Records (Map 20). If you're one of the real out-there cats looking for the most random of discs, try Weirdo Records (Map 27) in Central Square for 100% truth in advertising.

Foodie Fanatics
You literally cannot go wrong in the North End. Mike's Pastry (Map 2), Modern Pastry (Map 2), and the 24/7 Bova's Bakery (Map 2) are three of about 1,000 places to try for sweet goodies. For savory Italian treats try Salumeria Italiana (Map 2). Equally tempting treats can be found at Athan's Bakery (Map 17) in Brookline or Cardullo's (Map 20) in Harvard Square. For ice cream, Christina's Homemade (Map 28) in Inman Square is a favorite, as well as J.P. Licks (Map 14, 19, 20), Toscanini's (Map 27), Lizzy's (Map 20), and Emack & Bolio's (Maps 5, 9, 17), all with lines out the door in warmer months. Fans of more solid sweets will fare just as well at Sweet (Map 3, 5, 6, 20) and KickAss Cupcakes (Map 22). Dave's Fresh Pasta (Map 22), City Feed & Supply (Map 14), and Pemberton Farms (Map 22) carry a mix of local, organic specialty and standard items, sandwiches, prepared foods, and fresh bread. For the gourmet addicts, there's nothing like the cheese counters at South End Formaggio (Map 7) or Formaggio Kitchen (Map 21) to give you the artisan deliciousness you've been craving. D'rool, d'rool.

Malls and 'hoods
Boston has seemingly avoided the typical suburban oasis of a mall more than other cities, but it does it one better by providing several neighborhood locations where you can store-hop, grab a bite, and people watch simultaneously, with real food, not food court swill. Downtown Crossing is a high-energy center of rabid consumerism, very convenient to the T, and boasting the gigantic department store Macy's (Map 3) (which has recently gobbled up the beloved Filene's), discount stores (Marshall's (Map 3, 6, 12, 26) and TJ Maxx (Map 3, 19)), and other joints like H&M (Map 3, 6, 26). Clothes aren't the only things for sale around here -- there are jewelers, shoe stores, street vendors, and performers. It's also within walking distance of Faneuil Hall Market Place, another splendid mallternative. Likewise, one could easily spend a solid afternoon wandering around Harvard Square. Newbury Comics (Map 2, 5, 20), Black Ink (Map 20), Joie De Vivre (Map 23) and Leavitt & Peirce (Map 20) are great for gift shopping (for yourself or anyone else), and Urban Outfitters (Map 20) always has the latest in hipster apparel and home decor (check out their bargain basement with savings that will melt your face off). Stop for a snack at Cardullo's (Map 20) or recharge at Tealuxe (Map 20), and flip through a book at the Co-op (Map 20) or Harvard Bookstore (Map 20). Walk the length of Newbury Street and you'll find everything from bookstores (Trident Booksellers & Café (Map 5)) to foodie paraphernalia (O & Co. (Map 5)) to art (International Poster Gallery (Map 6)), plus clothes and clothes and clothes. Though most of what's found on Newbury is decidedly pricey, things do get more reasonable as you get closer to Mass Ave. Boylston Street runs parallel to Newbury with offerings like Anthropologie (Map 6) and City Sports (Maps 3, 6, 19, 20, 23). And yes, as much as we hate to admit it, Boston does have a few genuine malls -- though they are well camouflaged and the word "mall" does not actually appear in their titles. The Shops at Prudential Center include Sephora (Map 5), Lord & Taylor (Map 6), and several others. It cuts through to the even higher-end Copley Place, where those of you that have the cash can drop quite a load of it at Barneys New York (Map 6). The Cambridge Side Galleria is a multi-level Mecca where MIT kids, biotech execs, and European tourists flock to the Apple Store (Map 26) to satisfy their Mac addictions.

On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Sonia Weiser
Photo:  Emily Doutre

Buffalo Exchange
Two years later, Buffalo Exchange has outlasted Poor Little Rich Girl in the race to fill Davis Square with student budget-friendly shops. There is something extremely unique about BE (that's what the cool kids call it). While going through your clothing, they can either make you feel a.) like an idiot for ever buying something or b.) proud to have had something in your wardrobe worthy of Ms. Hipster buyer's approval. They don't buy back a lot (or maybe they just don't like my clothes), but when they put a little price sticker on something you brought, you feel just as good as when a fitting room lady tells you, "that dress looks great." It doesn't really matter if this one person thinks you look good or likes the clothing you brought in, but by god, it's nice to be validated. And if they don't take anything, you feel like a fashion disaster...And then you buy "better" clothing from the store to fix the situation. So both ways work in their favor.

Posted By:  Jamie Bushell
Photo:  Jamie Bushell

The Clayroom
Imagine being offered the combination of a glass of wine, assortment of cheeses, and paint your own pottery. Imagine a rainy day, relaxing activity that doesn't involve sitting on your couch watching "Love Actually." Well, my friend, imagine no more! The Clayroom, located near Coolidge Corner in Brookline, has found the inner child. From practical items such as platters and mugs to school buses and wizards alike, for a reasonable price, you can paint your own pottery. There are even stencils for those of us with a slightly shaky hand. The Clayroom, open until 10pm on certain weeknights, offers a relaxing environment to unwind after a day at work, catch up with a friend, and be creative. Perhaps you'll finally paint that penguin bank you've wanted your whole life. The exposed brick walls are just begging for an artistic ambiance and the music isn't bad either. The best part is the daily deals they offer: Mondays are half off the studio fee; Tuesdays are free pizza night; and Wednesdays are $30 for wine, cheese, crackers, studio fee, AND any piece of pottery up to $24. Wine and pottery? I'm in.

Posted By:  Charlie O'Brien
Photo:  Charlie O'Brien

Manna Massage
Manna massage is dedicated to creating meaningful and sustainable change in each client's soft tissue. The work at Manna Massage is based on the premise that enhanced body awareness is the first step to symptom relief and wellness. The beauty of bodywork is that each practitioner brings his or her unique approach to a massage session. Each client and practitioner forms a unique working relationship, so finding the right fit is critical to successful bodywork. Anna Mulholland, founder of Manna Massage, meets with her clients to discuss the type of massage that will best meet their needs. After earning her diploma in Muscular Therapy in 2006 from the Cortiva Institute in Boston, Anna completed her Structural Integration training with the CORE Institute in November 2008, before opening Manna Massage. At Manna Massage, Anna specializes in several significant components of Therapeutic Massage. Trigger Point Massage, Myofascial Massage, Structural Integration, and Pregnancy Massage.

Posted By:  Charlie O'Brien
Photo:  Charlie O'Brien

Read & White Formal Wear
Read & White in Needham has been providing the finest in traditional and contemporary men's formal wear since 1914. They feature a complete selection of tuxedos and formal accessories for purchase or rental, with personal service and a genuine commitment to quality. The specialists at Read & White will help with selecting the perfect style of tuxedo and accessories for your wedding or next black tie event. They offer special rates for wedding parties, groups, proms, and for extended rentals. Read & White also offers in house tailoring so out of town measurements and last minute alterations are never a problem. They carry a variety of designer labels including: Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Perry Ellis, Pierre Cardin, Lord West and more! Read & White is located on Great Plain Ave in Needham and accessible via the commuter rail.

Posted By:  Charlie O'Brien
Photo:  Charlie O'Brien

Harvard Sq Optical
Prime retail locations don’t come much better than Harvard Sq. Optical's storefront on the outskirts of the famed square. An independent full service optical store. They are 3rd generation owners of this practice dating back to 1946. Starting out in The Harvard Coop, they moved to their present location in 1996. Harvard Square Optical provides eye exams, a wide selection of eyeglasses and shades, contact lenses, as well as, performing all follow up service necessary. The store owner, Neil Cohen, provides the friendly service without the pestering solicitation. If they can't fix your broken frames, they may be able to save your lenses by cutting them down to fit another frame within the same day. Showcasing designer as well as non-designer frames, they have the latest technology in thin lightweight lenses, progressive lenses, titanium frames, flexible titanium frames, stainless steel frames, and plastic frames. In fact, if you see a frame that they do not carry, they will contact other stores in order to find it for you.

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