The furniture and antique experts at Jarred's Homegoods unearth a wealth of gently used bedroom furniture, dining-room digs, and jewelry to fill the store’s expansive showroom floor. Patrons can sift through cherished pieces claimed from estate sales, including furniture crafted from old barn wood or antique brass bed frames, and an array of designer jewelry rewards wrists and décolletage with sunburn-deflecting sparkle. Treasure hunters can peruse the showroom and dig up work crafted by famous designers, carpenters, and brands such as Ethan Allen, Liz Claiborne, and Givenchy.
Phred's Drug meets customers varied retail needs with an eclectic selection of food products, beverages, and supplies. Train for a marathon with a 24-pack of 500-milliliter Aquafina water bottles ($4.49), or feed a baby calf with a gallon of one-percent low fat milk ($2.79). Sleep-deprived customers can pick up an 11.5-ounce can of Autocrat premium ground coffee ($3.99), prepare for a party with a 1.75-liter bottle of Seagram's vodka ($14.99), or begin construction on a full-scale aluminum replica of King Tut's pyramid with a 30-pack of 12-ounce Coors Light cans ($21.99). The shop prides itself on old-fashioned customer service, and the friendly staff guarantees callers a non-robotic voice on the other end of the line.
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.
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.
Neo Interiors looks for modernity in both form and function, culling furniture with contemporary shapes that also boast multi-functionality. Shoppers travel throughout a 15,000-square-foot showroom, alighting on pieces imported from Italy, Belgium, and Spain. The large and ever-changing inventory hails from approximately 15 distributors, each of which represents anywhere from 10 to 20 manufacturers. All-purpose design pops up everywhere, from updated takes on the sleeper sofa to wall-mounted storage units, whose glossy drop-down doors double as a makeshift bar or a stage for impromptu puppet shows. Italian Magniflex mattresses wrap soy-based memory foam in linen or organic cotton covers, some of which feature reversible designs that alternate between soft and firm support. Eco-friendly elements also ignite the shop's selection of freestanding bio ethanol fireplaces, whose smoke-free flames are powered by fuel harvested from grains and potatoes instead of gas, electricity, or magic spells.
The furniture business has changed quite a bit in the more than three decades since Ken Silva founded Plymouth Furniture. Particleboard has replaced hardwood, and machines have, in some cases, taken over the duties of skilled craftspeople. Despite this, Silva and his son—vice president and director Randy Silva—have created and maintained a five-story gallery full of American-made furniture crafted from North American wood, often by the children and grandchildren of the men and women they represented 30 years ago. The store is a bastion of tradition, where staffers—usually family members—greet returning customers by name. While Ken recognizes the importance of showcasing their furniture online, he would rather you come by and sit on one of their sofas to experience firsthand the subtle smoothness of the leather, the comforting heft of the kiln-dried frame, and the durability of the eight-way hand-tied springs.
In keeping with the company's focus on quality, Randy shared his expertise with Shaunna Gately of the The Patriot Ledger, suggesting that buyers look for a hardwood frame, polyurethane-foam cushions with a high density rating, and a flow-matched pattern that continues fluidly over contours and panels. The family team also offers an in-home design service, putting together the ideal dining room or finding a lamp to match the blue-green face of a food-poisoned family member.