When Stephen Staples comes across an ancient ash can or a board stripped of its nails, he studies it as if it’s the Mona Lisa. What appear to the common eye to be scraps are seen by Stephen for what they truly are—the building materials of early New England homesteads and factories. With his family, Stephen repurposes the salvaged materials into handcrafted kitchen tables, headboards, armoires, and benches.
“All this stuff is from somewhere special. … You look at the piece, you see the history, you know what went on," he says. "They say the piece can’t talk. They do talk, you just need to know how to listen.” For those not fluent in the language of reclaimed materials, Stephen includes a certificate of authenticity with each piece that details its age and probable history, including which pilgrims stored their socks in it. For his meticulous handiwork and passion for history, Stephen has been featured on This Old House and WCVB's Chronicle and in Design New England magazine and the Boston Herald.
A woman strolls into the framing shop clasping the hood ornament of a car. She doesn't know much about it, except that it was attached to the car her grandfather drove around town during his youth. Not wanting the trinket to sit in a dusty drawer any longer, she hands it over to a staff member and asks him to turn it into piece of art equipped to hang on a wall. Since The Preservation Framer's doors flung open in November 2008, its team has restored and preserved memory-laden keepsakes ranging from photographs to wedding gowns to violins. During each framing project, specialists use museum-quality materials to securely encase items within custom-cut frames, available in more than 700 colors and three fruit flavors. Exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and a tin ceiling enclose the storefront, which doubles as an art gallery that showcases local, regional, and intergalactic artists' work at least four times a year. The Preservation Framer's downtown-area surroundings also keep clients entertained with an assortment of restaurants and boutiques.
One of the East Coast's best-known Members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's serves more than six million Members in more than 200 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, BJ's helps provide more selections to savvy shoppers looking to knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, Members can stock up on economy-sized groceries?including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials?grab name-brand electronics, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of BJ's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $2.2 million to charitable organizations.
Since 2000, Landscape Depot has transformed the landscape of Greater Boston backyard by backyard, supplying everything from fertile mulch and soil to stone pathways and fountains. Technicians help install walls, veneers, and stairs from both natural and engineered stone, and trucks haul yards of mulch straight to homes. The staff also holds regular do-it-yourself seminars, reviewing various projects so homeowners don't have to rely on the shoddy advice of garden gnomes.
Furniture from more than 15 national and international sources fills Northeast Furniture Direct, a store that sells home furnishings at factory-direct prices. Shoppers can peruse memory-foam mattresses, leather sofas, formal dining sets, and more, all still wrapped in their factory packaging and bearing their manufacturers' full warranties. Each week, the store announces its public business hours; patrons can also visit during scheduled one-on-one appointments.