Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saturday in the South End

It was a beautiful afternoon, so we walked over to the South End. We hadn't been over there since December; we were overdue for a visit — it's the closest thing we have to SoHo, after all.

On the way we checked out what's new at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams. I love their crystal spheres, but they don't come with instructions for predicting the future. And at those prices, they should.

Then we visited the cats at the Animal Rescue League — just looking. We were taken with Mr. Buttons, a friendly, black-and-white longhair who kept trying to smack us from behind bars. Then there was Bella, a ruddy Abyssinian who insists on being an only cat as well as having two litter boxes.

We were happy to find a pair of stools by the window to rest and enjoy crispy-crunchy oatmeal-raisin cookies and iced mocha lattés at the South End Buttery on Union Park. It was hopping, as it usually is on weekends, and there was a small crowd of people outside, holding onto dog leashes, bikes, strollers, and wiggly toddlers as they wait for their friends to come out bearing baked goods and coffee.

Further down the Union Park, we noticed a store we'd never seen before, Old Japan. Now you can buy vintage kimonos in Boston. They also have a wide variety of affordable items, including cute little rabbits made of vintage kimono silks, and different kinds of Lucky Cats. They also have superb antique tansu (wooden storage chests) that are not affordable but are still worth every penny.

Then we headed over to Harrison Avenue, where we visited our good friend at Ars Libri, one of Boston's best specialty bookstores. If you crave art and photography books, you will be very happy here.

Mohr & McPherson always has something new and interesting. There were some tansu we hadn't seen before, semi-precious jewelry, and a collection of small leather armchairs. I coveted a cloisonné vase covered in sapphire and turquoise flowers and this Japanese basket:

Photo from the M&M site. It's a whopping $375.

Mohr & McPherson has a new café, downstairs at 460 Harrison, offering hot and cold drinks, a very fine array of baked goods, and comfortable seating. We heard that they are going to be adding a panini press soon, and that Rocca, next door, will be providing a soup du jour. Kevin McPherson is always full of good ideas; this is just what the area needs.

We also visited M&M's rug gallery, is in a spacious, stylishly raw, ground-floor loft around the corner. We met Ken, who is the ideal rug dealer: friendly, knowledgeable, and very low-key. If we need a rug, we're going to him first. He mentioned that rugs are half price right now....

We browsed some of the galleries on Thayer Street and stepped into Bobby from Boston. Bobby himself was there, listening to '60's R&B and managing his staff from his wheelchair. Whenever I see his pristine collection of vintage suits, blazers, hats, shoes, ties, cufflinks, and overcoats, I start wishing I could dress in drag. He has an excellent stock of leather luggage, including hatboxes, too.

Then we steeled ourselves and went into Tour de France. Exactly a week ago, we were at the Marché aux Puces in Paris, and we just needed a French fix. We first visited Tour de France a couple of years ago — and had the most appalling retail experience of our lives. We were treated like clods incapable of not knocking over valuable items, when we hadn't touched a thing.

During today's visit, the owner was singing to himself, in his beret, rearranging silverware on a table, and pointedly ignoring everyone in his store. Fine with us. We fantasized about knocking over a vase, but... aha! Those dining chairs from 2008 are still there! There is justice after all. (We'd gotten ourselves a set of lovely antique bentwoods at a fraction of their price.)

We browsed in a few other shops and galleries before heading to Garage Sale, on Waltham Street, on the way home. They have a modern, Italian-designer-meets-Frank-Lloyd-Wright dining room table and chairs, in glossy, honey-golden wood, for about 1/4 of the original price. The shop is always packed with plenty of other stuff — especially original artwork — at great prices. It's too bad our apartment is bursting at the seams. 

Since it turned from spring back to winter as the sun went down, it was good to come home to that bursting apartment. 


  1. Browsing thru and enjoying your posts. Are you on twitter? Would love to follow you there.

  2. Wow, fair warning on that antiques guy. I am almost tempted to go there just to see it for myself!

    I wonder what misery exists in his life to make him such a miserable human being (not that it would be any excuse).

  3. Thank you from Mohr&Mcpherson. We look forward to you coming back!

  4. We observed the owner at Tour de France's verbal abuse on a few occasions. Went by there today and saw the store closed and empty! Apparently replaced by an art gallery. Not particularly shedding any tears ....


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