Spanning two floors and 6,000 square feet, Rodney's Bookstore houses more than 100,000 new and used titles, including rare and out-of-print tomes. With the selection ranging from used textbooks and cookbooks, to children's picture books and popular fiction, the store promises a tactile readable for any interest ($3–$35 for used books). Large sections on art and architecture will provide budding designers with ample resources to construct the world's first fully recyclable house, while retro decorators and nostalgic robber barons can peruse the catalog of more than 1,000 vintage advertising posters ($19.95 for a 20"x30" image).
Experienced framers Barry Stahl and Bob Clayton built Big Picture Framing from scratch in 2000, holding meetings around an old card table as construction roared around them. Today, framers at 15 area locations craft custom frames to display artwork, photographs, and record sleeves, and shadow boxes protect three-dimensional items such as ballet slippers, macaroni art, or a swarm of wasps. Patrons can dictate all design choices, choosing from metal and wooden frames in a multitude of colors and styles, or ask for recommendations from one of Big Picture Framing's resident experts. Big Picture Framing also stocks pre-framed art, prints, and posters to spruce up bare-walled homes or a drab doghouse.
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.
Art teacher Bessie Blum shares her love for handmade objects at Made by Me, where she teaches classes that uncover each painter's hidden creativity. Under her guidance, attendees learn the fundamentals of craftsmanship, using a potter's wheel to fashion pottery pieces or fusing glass into bowls, picture frames, or whale-proof aquarium windows. Bessie's selection of pre-made pottery, meanwhile, serves as a canvas for results-oriented DIY-ers, who can skip the creation process and go straight to adorning pieces with custom layers of colorful food-safe glaze.
Every artist’s dream is discovering a massive warehouse stocked to the brim with reasonably-priced art supplies. That’s just what Blick Art Materials on Park Drive is to budding art students and professional artists in Boston. The outsized store is located near Fenway Park in the Landmark Building, and offers creative types a trustworthy place to find quality tools to help them create their next masterpiece. Here, artists of all levels can shop for drafting paper, paint, glue, portfolios, glitter, markers, tracing paper, paintbrushes and canvas. Custom framing is also available, and the back area of the store features a kid’s section with arts and crafts bundles, jewelry-making supplies and all manner of construction paper and crayons.
The tiny Fairy Shop is an anomaly on trendy Newbury Street: it’s not a salon, a high-end clothing boutique or an upscale café. In fact, it’s about as far from trendy as can be. The first clue might be the “Reward: Missing Unicorn” sign posted on the fence outside, or maybe it’s the tiny fairy door installed in the main door to the cutesy shop. This, if anything, is the place to find unicorn stuffed animals, bottled fairy dust, Alice in Wonderland books and endless other trinkets and charms that evoke the magical and science fiction worlds. T-shirts, jewelry and a variety of gifts feature themes from fairies and gnomes to Dr. Who and Star Wars, all wrapped in colorful décor that adds to the whimsy. Even those who don’t often indulge in mystical realms find it impossible to not be charmed by the unusual store.