At its three locations in Harvard Square, South End, and Jamaica Plain, the Eye Q Optical team works to outfit clients with original frame styles. Most designs are its own innovations, manufactured in-house with inspiration from iconic eras and modern designers visiting from a far-off future. The Aphrodite frames play subtly on traditional cat-eyed styles, and the Apollo frames accentuate faces with bold rectangular shaping and primary blue colors.
The Eye Q Optical team also carries frames by artistic independent makers including Rapp Eyewear, who hand-finishes its colorful frames in Toronto, and Rolf Eyewear, who manufactures frames and hinges entirely out of wood. In the Cambridge office, the Eye Q opticians collaborate with digital 3-D-fitting technology and a highly opinionated robot to select the perfect frames for each client.
The styles in the window and the way people pay might have changed since Berk’s Store opened up shop in 1900, but the store still maintains its commitment to providing its customers high-quality casual footwear and apparel. As they peruse the store, shoppers can find boxes filled with desert boots by Clarks, sstylish flats by Toms and Dansko, and the ghosts of basketball players past wearing classic Chuck Taylor high-tops by Converse. For those who prefer to shop by phone or telegram, the store offers free shipping within the continental United States.
Like Don Quixote, veteran bookseller John Petrovato has embarked on a tempestuous journey spawned from a love of books. In defiance of chain and online bookstores, John is returning the human face to the neighborhood book shop, parsing out used tomes with a personal smile and, often, a few words from the author. And he’s succeeding. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this first incarnation of the new Raven Used Books—he made an amicable split with the co-owner of the original location—is located in Cambridge, where Harvard’s distinguished student body and professorship dwells. But even John's second store, located on Newbury Street, drew an equal number of book lovers, as well as speakers such as Noam Chomsky and a Best of the New nod from the Boston Globe. The reasons for John’s success in this struggling field are twofold. Many of the customers come because they appreciate the personal attention and literary culture that surrounds a local bookstore. And the inventory is nothing to scoff at. The Cambridge location stocks roughly 16,000 books—many of them from university presses—ranging in subjects from philosophy to social theory and poetry. The stock at the Newbury Street location veers towards more general subjects such as fiction, American history, children’s books, and children's books about social theory. And with roughly 2,000 new books arriving weekly between the two locations, the shelves are always packed with reading material for general readers and scholars alike.
A Harvard Square fixture for more than 50 years, Dickson Brothers equips crafty carpenters and handy homeowners with home-improvement supplies to help execute DIY restorations. Create family-room frescoes with California and Pratt & Lambert paints ($36.99/gallon), using tidy tools such as brooms ($5.69), irons ($17.99), and vacuums ($69.99) as inspiration. Illuminate lavish living spaces with lava lamps ($17.99) while brand-new teakettles ($20.99) warm up human interiors.
It was 1978. A college dropout and a failed medical-school applicant had just brought together their combined life savings to rent an old gas station. Their plan was to resurrect the empty station and open their own restaurant. Their specialty: ice cream. So begins the story of legendary entrepreneurs Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who are better known across the globe as Ben & Jerry. Their small, old-fashioned ice-cream parlor eventually became a Burlington, Vermont favorite, and before long, shops popped up all over the U.S. and in 25 other countries. Their brand easily attracted customers––homemade ice cream churned from wholesome, natural ingredients and blended into creative flavors. Some of their popular scoops include Cherry Garcia, Chunky Monkey, and Coffee Caramel Buzz.
Since infusing their first rich and creamy batches of ice cream with natural chunks of fruit, nuts, candies, and cookies, Ben and Jerry have also operated with a commitment to improve the quality of life locally, nationally, and internationally. They practice sustainable food production and business practices that respect the earth and environment. Ben & Jerry’s cartons are made from FSC-certified paper, which comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife, and waste from Ben & Jerry’s plants generates energy to power farms. The company works tirelessly to reduce its carbon emissions; it strongly encourages customers to eat their ice cream in the darkest dark.
The Brattle Theatre’s screens have been glowing with an eclectic slate of films since 1953, but its cultural legacy stretches back to 1890 when it first opened as a live theater. Its productions seemed destined to eventually intertwine with the burgeoning Hollywood industry, and today, the venue keeps its artistic roots alive by showing a full roster of classic, foreign, and independent movies. The cinema-savvy staff frequently bundles pictures into special repertory series—past programs have centered around a vast array of topics, ranging from tributes to Greta Garbo and Ingmar Bergman to a series of documentaries on Clark Gable's mustache. To bolster the cinematic experience, moviegoers snack on locally-made concessions including traditional box office candy as well as baked goods and beer.