I’ve been wanting to put this post together for a while, because local shops are a romance that have stolen my heart. Having owned my own in the past obviously paints my perspective, but nothing breaks through the monotony of seeing the same calculated styling and ubiquitous established brands like the breath of fresh air small businesses provide.
A good small business provides inspiration through creative displays and merchandising, introduces us to new emerging makers, artists, and designers, cultivates an atmosphere of quality craftsmanship over thoughtless consumption of inferior construction, and offers a unique perspective on new (and old) things to better appreciate.
More than that, I’ve learned, is that strong small businesses create a true community. There is nothing like walking into a store where the proprietor or its small staff know you by name, remembers you and what you might like, and in general has their hand on the pulse of the town and its fun happenings as well as its intimate needs. Small businesses make a town feel like home, even in a big city (at least the ones doing it right, in my opinion).
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the lovely small businesses of Boston, these are my personal favorites…
The owner of this store—Paul Niski—used to be the creative director at Crabtree & Evelyn, and his eye for tranquil, pared down, minimally french-rustic wares immediately calms me when I walk through his doors. This has been one of my favorite shops for years, and beyond their hand-crafted home goods, they offer a lovely collection of fine jewelry as well!
Additionally, simple vintage and antique finds are sometimes mixed in (and always for a steal), which I of course love. Prices are reasonable, and there are always at least a handful of items at super approachable price points, which makes it easy to go home with something you love and to support them whenever dropping in!
* update: while they don’t have a webshop set up quite yet, you can call or DM them on IG with anything you see and want to purchase! some personal suggestions: these taper candles in great hues, vintage stoneware, these necklaces, and these stunning spalted wood bowls.
A second-hand store where all proceeds go to AIDS Action (amazing), I stop by here regularly to poke around. While there are multiple locations throughout the city, this South End location is deemed their “Special Edition,” which means it is a much more curated selection of nicer brands and even high-end designers, alongside the occasional vintage find.
This is my go-to spot to donate items to, and I always make sure to peruse their furniture, home goods, and book selection (I’ve gotten a few beautiful coffee table books for a fraction of their retail price). We got our amazing Eileen Gray-inspired vintage Transat Chair from here, one of my best finds to date!
Also, one of the regular staff members there always knows me by name, and makes a big fun fuss of me coming in and catching up with me, which just puts a smile on my face and makes me happy to come back 🙂
Home stores are my absolute weakness, and this one is hands down my favorite in this city. Own and run by local interior designer Jill Goldberg, I never walk out without feeling inspired and wanting all the things.
A warm and inviting modern classic vibe infuses this space, where furniture, lighting, and accessories are beautifully styled throughout the space with frequent updates. Even my husband loves visiting Hudson with me!
While they do have an online shop, visiting in person is where the real magic lies (and where you’ll find a lot not listed online).
My current favorites:
Located in Beacon Hill, this shop is a great spot for smaller but established designer names like SEA New York, Janessa Leone, Ulla Johnson, Clare V. and more. They always have a great variety, and they carry my new favorite scent in candle form and perfume.
They are currently offering 20% off and free shipping, by the way! Use code shopfromhome20.
The entire site is now 20%-70% off!
This place almost feels sacred to me. Price points are high, so I like to only go in and tempt myself every once in a while, but I have dreams of walking in and buying an investment piece to support them at some point!
Think Ryan Roche, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Matteau, Raquel Allegra, and an abundance of new, avant-garde names to learn about (my favorite thing!). The manager of the South End location is so incredibly kind, helpful, and unpressuring — I always come in the pet all the things I can’t afford and she never makes me feel like a nuisance and is a wealth of information on new designers.
She introduced me to a new favorite jewelry designer Charlotte Chesnais, and my husband ended up surprising me with this ring for my birthday this past year!
This little gift shop has become a staple of the city, and their instagram is one hundred percent worth the follow for shares of heart-warming moments from the neighborhood as well as transparent shares about what it is like to run a small business.
A small footprint of a store in the South End that has a rotation of gifts by independent makers and a wall of yummy provisions that make it an easy stop and grab something fun in a pinch for friends.
My favorite thing about this store though is that it has become a celebratory voice of its community. Owner Sofi Madison has made it her mission to shine a light on the needs of the city, how to become involved, and how to make the neighborhood better. Not only that, but she constantly shares moments of love and positivity seen from her shop stoop in day-to-day moments. Her shop is very clearly her love letter to the city, and that feeling of being a part of something bigger through small purchases is always great to support!
Having recently expanded to a new and much larger location in the South End, Lekker always has a large mix of mid-century and streamlined modern furnishings and home goods. Plus, they have a free parking lot, which is an insane perk!
Accessories like tapered candles and beautiful tabletop glassware are always a joy to peruse.
A well-established and much-loved bookstore, I love browsing all the staff picks here. There is nothing like a well-curated bookstore that makes you excited to jump into a stack of books! They also have amazing events, and an entire downstairs dedicated to used books. Even better? I hear they will be opening a wine and coffee bar in there soon!
I dare you to walk in here without walking out with a stack of books…
Any book you can think of, they offer, plus fun gifts-a-plenty. Grab your gift cards here!
One of the original voices in the clean skincare movement, Follain is a stunning, spa-like experience of a store featuring skincare and wellness products that have to meet founder Tara Foley’s stringent criteria of “safe” and clean.
With makeup and skincare to sample and try, lovely candles to smell, and plenty of things to treat oneself or a loved one too, this is a spot I frequent and always bring friends to. This, this, and this are forever favorites of mine, and their growing proprietary line have lots of new items I’m itching to try!
More current favorites:
Small businesses are always fighting an uphill battle to survive and thrive, but the stakes are obviously higher than ever right now given the global epidemic of coronavirus. Many are suggesting buying gift cards to help hold these shops (and restaurants, etc.) over during this tough time, which is a great idea. For those with online shops, its great to simply go ahead and make a purchase if you can so they aren’t stuck with inventory that will become harder and harder to move in coming months!
Shopping webshops is obviously great for those that have online shops, and for those that don’t, many are sharing snippets of items on their IG stories that you can call/email to purchase as well.
If I’ve missed any of your favorite shops or you have additional ideas of how to best support these independent businesses both now and in the long run, please do share in the comments!
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