For Annissa Essaibi George, sewing has not just been a lifelong passion, but also a means of getting what she wants. At age 6, her mother taught her to sew so that she could make her Barbie a new outfit. In college, she and her roommate stitched together scrunchies, selling them to fund take-out and nights out. She even designed her own wedding dress. Today, sewing is the fuel behind her business, through which she furnishes sewers and knitters with the supplies to craft their projects and the skills they need to clothe every statue in the park. Annissa's pink-walled shop houses patterns, fabrics, knitting kits, and cubbies overflowing with polychromatic spools of yarn. Classes run on a five-day schedule and cover such stitching styles as knitting, crocheting, and pattern sewing for crafters of all levels.
Boston Gardener breathes greenery into even the smallest urban spaces with a stock of hydroponic and conventional gardening supplies to go along with its selection of herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Its online store showcases a vast repository of gardening gear, from water pumps and fluorescent lights to seed germinators and fertilizers. Demonstrating their commitment to community, the gardeners take on revitalization projects such as their Dudley Square endeavor, which transformed an abandoned alleyway into a vibrant garden that ousted nefarious gangs of weeds.
The Habit owners seek out clothes and accessories from burgeoning fashion designers to help their clientele find unique pieces that fit their personal styles. Colorful dresses, sharp jackets, and denim from top brands such as Jack by BB Dakota, Denimocracy, and Nally & Millie fill the shop's racks, tempting shoppers to try on new outfits and discover a look they might not have known about. The store's mission of advocating emerging fashions doesn't stop with women's fashion; they also carry household accessories and jewelry made by local crafters from melted down state championship trophies.
Tours take guests through the Bully Boy Distillers to see how Will and Dave Willis make small batches of white rum, Boston rum, organic vodka, and organic white and wheat whiskey. Visitors might also learn about how the family farm that now houses the distillery was once home to a stash of Prohibition-era spirits, and how the brothers named their enterprise after a much-loved workhorse from that farm—which in turn was named after a term coined by their great-grandfather's college roommate, Teddy Roosevelt.
One might not expect an immigrant with no formal education to name his family business after Yale University. But that's just what Steve Sheinkopf's grandfather did in 1923, and the pluckiness of the name was a harbinger of the company's ability to thrive against all odds. Over the course of almost 90 years, Yale Appliance & Lighting weathered the Great Depression and other economic crises, yet Sheinkopf's grandfather kept the business going and even made enough to help his four brothers emigrate to America. In 1984, when the landlord sold the Portland Street building that had housed Yale for 30 years, Sheinkopf helped his father measure a space on Freeport Street on the coldest day of that year. They've been there ever since.
What keeps the company going is a refusal to rest on its laurels and an almost obsessive commitment to customer satisfaction. On any given weekday, you'll find Sheinkopf blogging exhaustive side-by-side comparisons of a variety of his merchandise. The now 25,000-square-foot store houses more than 3,500 lights and thousands of appliances and plumbing products, and its delivery and service departments have grown to include 112 experienced employees and a fleet of 25 heavy-duty vehicles and industrial-size Tonka trucks.
The family legacy continues to flourish. Yale Appliance & Lighting’s kitchen appliances have made the megastore a multiyear winner of Boston magazine’s Best of Boston awards. As reported in the Boston Business Journal, Yale earned a Green Award from Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the city of Boston in 2007 for promoting energy-efficient appliances with education and in-store rebates. That same year, the Journal named Yale Appliance & Lighting one of the best places to work in Boston, which may be partly due to the frequent in-store cooking demos performed by regional chefs.