Thursday, March 4, 2010

Comings and Goings Around Newbury Street

I'm used to seeing too many vacant stores on and around Newbury Street — Paperchase, Rockport, OKW, the poor Shreve building... I could go on and on. So it shouldn't have been a surprise to find even more empty space today (as well as a few new businesses).  Overall, it does feel a little too gloomy on Boston's main shopping street.

So many galleries are gone that it's changed the nature of the street, although many of the oldest and best galleries —Vose, CoSo, Guild of Boston Artists, Arden, etc. — remain. 

It seems that the prime real-estate eventually is taken over by über-chic, usually British stores, often named after men. We've got Ted Baker, Jonathan Adler, and Ben Sherman so far. Who's next? I hope it's Top Shop. Or Liberty.

I hope this British Invasion fares better than the French Revolution we had several years ago. Remember Comptoir de Famille, Diptique, L'Occitane, and Agent Provocateur? All that remains is Arche, who got there first.

I walked by Jari Boutique on Clarendon Street today and found it emptied, with a sign on the door saying that entering the premises was forbidden by law, or words to that effect. Their windows were always filled with intriguing, pretty, rather expensive clothes, and I'll be sorry to see them go. I was just browsing in there a couple weeks ago.

Then I went into KitchenArts at 215 Newbury, and learned that it's closing on March 31. I noticed the shelves looking empty and no sign of a Le Creuset Dutch oven anywhere, and then the clerk politely spilled the beans. Their "sidewalk sale" is really a going-out-of business sale. They've been around for almost 30 years and I will miss them, too. As I miss Pottery Barn. (I don't miss Louis, but I'm sure many people carrying credit-card balances do.)

There's a new barber shop next-door to Pawsh on Gloucester. Michael's tailoring shop used to be there, and then it became Glam. Glam is gone; I never knew what it was, but Google just revealed that they had offered hair extensions. I just knew there was never anyone sitting in those zebra-print Louis chairs in their window. It's good to have a barber shop in the neighborhood, although at least two of them recently came and went on Newbury Street proper.

Vera Pelle is going out of business, but I won't miss them because I never checked out the store. ("We have our leather," as Bostonian women used to say about their hats long ago.) The Jewel of Newbury inn and restaurant is boarded up. No surprise there: I heard that, no matter what you ordered from the menu, they served only one dish, so that's what you were served.

Can we please have a bakery? I'd be thrilled to see Iggy's or  When Pigs Fly in the space vacated by First Act Guitars. Or anywhere.

Brooklyn Industries, which appears to be a sort of Abercrombie for the 20+ set, is opening next month down near Diesel. Graphic T-shirts are a speciality, in case shoppers are bored with Johnny Cupcakes, Life Is Good, Urban Outfitters, and all the other T-shirt stores in the neighborhood.

At least it isn't a nail salon.

And Bliss is having a "moving" sale. I hope it's really just "moving."

I hope the All Saints Spitalfields store that is taking over Pottery Barn will have more to offer the 35+ set in the way of clothing and housewares. 


  1. Jonathan Adler is American (from New Jersey, of all places), but I get why you might think he's a Brit.

    Do you think it's redundant to say "Abercrombie for the 20+ set"?

    TopShop is way too trendy; you would not like their things. They are like H&M, only more expensive.

    I don't think All Saints is going to be your sort of thing either. Sorry to be a downer.

  2. Hi, I know that Jonathan Adler is from NJ.... that accounts for why I said "usually British." His stuff is pure, screaming NJ, in my opinion. Ew.

    I don't think it's redundant, since I think that Abercrombie is for teens and maybe even tweens.

    I often find things I like at H&M except I feel they look too cheap. Going up a notch in quality might be fine for me. Kate Moss still designs for Topshop, and I'm interested in her stuff.

    Yeah, All Saints looks like more of same.... boring.

  3. I live on Beacon and frequently walk down Newbury with my wife. The fact of the matter is, many of the property owners and real estate agencies think that it is the 1990's and they can charge high rent for a great location. Not anymore. The prices for rent on Newbury are outrageous and nobody is willing to pay for it.

    I can't understand why a property owner would let their property stay vacant for so long. The people who own these properties bought them back in the 80's when they were cheap, and now they are acting greedy! Someone out there should be the trend-maker and slash the prices on their rentals so the street doesn't look like this.

    If the vacancies continue to rise, this no longer will be the place to shop or stroll. When will they wake up and realize this.


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