Combining her love of art and travel, Deb Colburn created Nomad to provide local homebodies and world-weary backpack buffs alike an opportunity to explore and purchase unique collections of clothing, jewelry, textiles, art, and home furnishings from around the world. Nomad is a supporter of eco-friendly clothing and fair-trade goods, often purchasing items directly from artisans. Pillage through a profusion of vibrant clothing to discover fashionable, one-of-a-kind sweaters or blouses, or pretend to be Bihari royalty with ornate ear adornments from the wide selection of domestic and international trinkets. Consider adorning a living-room shrine or baby's room with a piece of global folk art, such as a Día de los Muertos skull or a colorful, screaming dragon.
“It’s the challenging fits—either spectacles or contact lenses—that drive me," writes optician John Parrelli on his website. Since opening his first shop in 1978, these challenges have included cataract sufferers who were left without binocular vision following surgery. Parrelli and his team of lens specialists experimented with different materials, designs, and indices of refraction until they could fabricate a lens thin and strong enough to restore these patients’ sight.
Today, Parrelli Optical has grown to six locations, where optometrists inspect patients' vision with a comprehensive, 15-point eye-health assessment and complete visual analysis. Through digital corneal photography, they're able to diagnose corneal disease and increase the precision and comfort of prescriptions. The locations also host a wide selection of designer frames, ideal for experimenting with different styles, such as wearing 20 frames at once.
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.
A 40-foot mahogany bar dominates the space at The Spirit Bar, allowing bartenders to slide any of the 50 available brews to patrons while they watch up to eight different games on 12 televisions, including seven 42-inch plasma screens. The bar's year-round premium sports packages keep the apple-red walls echoing with the sounds of professional baseball, hockey, or college football, and it hosts viewings of every college-basketball tournament game and pay-per-view ultimate-fighting event. Dartboards and weekly pub-trivia nights help keep patrons occupied in between athletic broadcasts.
Even the menu strives for an inclusive neighborhood feel, featuring an eclectic combination of international and regional comfort foods. The cooks slather wings with one of 17 different sauces—such as chipotle-bourbon barbecue, caribbean jerk, or garlic and parmesan—and they hand-form each Angus-beef burger patty. Fried fish 'n' chips evoke the menu of a transatlantic pub, and nachos with homemade salsa and guacamole recall flavors from south of the international date line.
It all started with a deflated basketball. Though longtime friends Mike Kennedy and Eric Martin scoured downtown Boston for an inflating needle to fill it, no shops in the area carried one. They were frustrated—and they realized that other Bostonians looking for athletic gear were likely frustrated too. So in 1983, they opened City Sports, a shop stocked with all the footwear, athletic apparel, and sports equipment that the metropolis had been missing.
Nearly three decades later, Mike and Eric's neighborhood business has expanded to 20 shops across the East Coast. In addition to stocking popular brands such as Vibram, The North Face, and Patagonia, the store engineers its own CS by City Sports line. Shoppers include yogis, cyclists, and tennis players—anyone seeking to outfit active lifestyles, whether they're playing a team sport or braving the hike up the world's largest gumdrop. In addition to footwear and apparel, the staff stocks fitness equipment such as kettlebells, lifting gloves, and dumbbells.
Bike Boom functions as a fountain of youth for cycles that pass its threshold. Its technicians take in used and vintage models for renovation, transforming them into street-safe vehicles for all types of terrain. They track their makeover efforts on the shop's blog, highlighting retro specimens such as an overhauled Shogun Easy Street from the mid- to late ’80s and a ’70s Schwinn Collegiate Cruiser. Visiting guests can peruse the menagerie of multi- and single-speed road bikes, mountain bikes, and city bikes, which are designed for everyday trips around the block or up the walls of skyscrapers. Riders with a specific vision can also commission a custom-built cycle.
The professional mechanics in the repair shop perform tune-ups and install new parts. Shelves of accessories and gear—including helmets, locks, lights, and handlebar tape—equip pedalers for their commutes, and the staff readily orders items that aren't in stock or easily harvested from the derailleur tree in the backyard.