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.
Owners Jed and Jessica Leach established Opt Eyewear Boutique in 2010, and set out to bring luxury sunglasses, frames, and lenses from all corners of the globe back to their Providence shop. Their ever-growing stock includes eyewear from renowned brand names—such as Prada, Lafont, and Ted Baker—as well as the latest styles from independent manufacturers. Most recently, they’ve shifted their focus back onto regional soil, carrying products crafted by local students and startup companies such as Arborglass. They help shoppers navigate the selection inside their newly renovated store, decorated with sleek wood floors and mod white furnishings that recall boutiques found sprinkled across London and the inside of Martha Stewart’s mind.
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.
Since 1968, Jerry’s Artarama has stocked shelves with multitudes of tools and supplies and helped artists show off finished work with custom framing. The comprehensive inventory fulfills artists’ every need, featuring everything from acid-free blank stretched canvases to Lukas oil colors, which have been transmitting images to paper since 1862. Although prices vary depending on matting and glass choices, a custom frame can protect and showcase a diploma, favorite 8”x10,” or beloved box of cereal.
Cellar Stories has been collecting tomes, titles, and vintage collectables for more than 26 years and is currently stocked with more than 70,000 books. Newer titles peacefully co-exist with gently used books in Cellar Stories' paper paradise, including leather-bound classics such as The Sound and the Fury ($20), pulp paperbacks such as Dangerous Trade ($27), and kitschy collector’s items such as a signed copy of Blackstone's Secrets of Magic ($500). In addition to an impressive collection of modern first editions, the knowledgeable staff can point you to a notable selection of art history, architecture, poetry, children's books, and autobiographies written by famous postmaster generals.
Symposium Books's used volumes surround visitors with the aromas of beloved pages, and a trove of new books elicits scintillating discussions. Recent fiction releases such as Jim Harrison's Returning to Earth, a bittersweet memoir, transport readers to faraway lands and fresh sentiments, and art books including Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol ($27.98) array glossy spreads of eye candy and showcase the solidness of homemade coffee tables. Academic tomes, children’s titles, and graphic novels by local and international artists also parade across brimming shelves, where literary joy waits between pages like a fugitive paper doll.