Posts Tagged ‘small business’

This weekend, my guy and I took a Sunday bike ride from his house to Harvard Square. We wandered the weekend farmers’ market, savored BLTs from our beloved Darwin’s, and checked out a new arts and vintage market (where I scored a gorgeous pair of earrings). He headed home after that, but I had one more stop to make: the brand-new location of a favorite Harvard Square institution, Brattle Square Florist.

As regular readers know, I’ve been stopping by Brattle Square since 2013, when I worked at Harvard and bought myself flowers at least once a week. Since I left the university, I’ve done my best to keep dropping in when I can, buying peonies and tulips and daffodils, iris and ranunculus and bright anemones – whatever is in season. I’ve bought amaryllis bulbs and sunflowers and multiple African violets, and Stephen, the kind-eyed owner, has tucked many an extra rose into my bouquets.

I was sad when I heard they were moving – but relieved that they found a new space right down the street, near the Ed School and now bright with flowers and houseplants. They moved in last week, and though the new space is smaller, it feels a bit like the old: exposed brick, buckets of blooms, some of the carved wooden angels from the old shop, and Stephen’s smile.

I sniffed and explored and bought a vivid bouquet: orange roses and three Coral Charm peonies, which change color as they bloom. I hugged Stephen and rode home, thrilled to see an old favorite transplanted and flourishing in a new place.

What local adventures are you having, these days?


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Once a week I go take photos for Instagram, chat to the guys, pick up a bouquet or two for my place. And soak in the lush green colorful loveliness there.

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bookstore lenox interior shelves

One thing I miss, in this strange time of restricted movement: popping into my favorite shops (and restaurants).

A couple of my faves, like my beloved florist and the best taqueria in Maverick Square, have simply closed down for the duration. There’s not much I can do except look forward to the day when I can visit them again. (You can bet I’ll be hugging my florist, when it’s safe to do so.) But there are a few other small businesses I’m supporting with my dollars, during this crazy time. Here’s a list, in case you’re in need of books or tea or stationery, or other fun things, and have a bit of cash to spare.

  • Trident, Brookline Booksmith and the Harvard Book Store are my three favorite indie bookshops in Boston, and they’re all still operating online. (Trident’s cafe is still open, too, if you’re local.) If you’re a book lover, please support an indie bookstore during this time – they are such centers of creativity and joy, and they really need the cash flow.
  • My two favorite yoga/fitness studios, The Point EB and Savin Hill Fitness, are offering online classes via Zoom. They’re super reasonable – Savin Hill even offers one free class each day – and the instructors are great.
  • Mem Tea Imports, based in Somerville, is still shipping their delicious teas. I stocked up in mid-March, and I’m sure I’ll be making another order soon. They always stick an extra sample or two in each order.
  • I ordered some fun quarantine correspondence cards from 1canoe2, a small stationery business I’ve loved for years. They are hilarious and cute.
  • Jenny at Carrot Top Paper Shop is still bringing the cheer, even drawing some of her heroines wearing masks. Love love love.
  • Marathon Sports, my favorite Boston-based running store, is still shipping online orders. They’ve provided me with new running shoes and a much-needed foam roller since this all started.

What are some favorite small businesses you’re supporting right now?

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They’re becoming a more and more common sight around here: face masks made of fabric and secured with elastic, worn at the grocery store and on the subway, and/or almost any time a person goes out in public.

My upstairs neighbor offered to sew masks for all of us last week, and I gladly took him up on the offer. I’ve been wearing mine when I ride the train (usually to go to Trader Joe’s), and I ordered another one from a small local business whose shop (on top of the coronavirus crisis) was flooded recently. (If you’re looking for a place to order a mask, I recommend Ash & Rose – they could really use the help right now, and they’re donating a mask to an organization in need for each one sold.)

I know the masks are supposed to help protect us, but I’m really struggling with them – both with wearing mine and seeing so many other people wearing them. I hate not being able to see other people smile, or read their expressions at all. It reminds me irresistibly of that Paul Laurence Dunbar poem, which I love, but which breaks my heart.

So far, I’m skipping the mask when I run – they make it difficult to breathe, and I have a neck gaiter I can pull up if I need to. And, thank goodness, I can still see my loved ones and colleagues smiling on Zoom calls and FaceTime.

Are you wearing a mask, these days?

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I’m back from my recently mentioned adventure in D.C., with a sunburn, a camera half full of photos, a rather depleted bank account and a handful of new books. J and I had a lovely time tramping around the Mall, perusing American history at the Smithsonian, chasing double agents at the International Spy Museum, and wandering Old Town Alexandria with our hosts, my pen pal Jaclyn and her husband Steve. It was hot – but we took advantage of cold drinks and air-conditioning whenever we could.

During our four days there, we visited four independent bookstores, beginning almost immediately upon arrival (after a delicious lunch at Teaism). The first stop was Kramerbooks, near Dupont Circle:

kramerbooks interior washington dc

kramerbooks afterwords washington d.c.

The space is smallish, but it’s crammed with an extensive stock and a team of highly efficient employees who wove around customers, shelving and reshelving books. (There’s also a cafe, which we didn’t visit since we had just eaten, but it looked delectable. And I love the ampersands everywhere.) I came away with A Novel Bookstore, which I’ve been longing to read, and the lovely Penguin Threads edition of Emma, which I’ve never read.

We headed down the street to Second Story Books, a quiet, well-stocked used bookstore, where I browsed the fiction shelves for a while.

second story books exterior washington dc

Then a familiar spine in the biography section caught my eye: the distinctive blue of As Always, Julia, the letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto. Since this book inspired Jaclyn and me to become pen pals, and since I didn’t own a copy, I took it as a sign, and purchased it.

second story books interior washington dc

We also hit Politics & Prose, a two-story bookstore I’d read about in Shelf Awareness. It was slightly overwhelming – so many choices! – but I loved the extensive staff recommendations and the themed tables, including this Olympic Fever display:

politics & prose washington dc olympics

(That’s J in the background, perusing the politics and current events section.)

politics & prose interior washington dc

I came away with Agatha Christie’s The Secret Adversary (the first in her Tommy & Tuppence series). I could have stayed for hours, but it was time for lunch.

We ended our bookstore crawl on Sunday afternoon with a trip to the Book Bank, in Old Town Alexandria:

book bank exterior alexandria va

On the way out (after nosing around the fiction and children’s shelves), I casually glanced into the sci-fi and fantasy section, and nearly squealed with delight. There, for just $2, was a 1965 Ballantine paperback edition of The Hobbit – the perfect match to my Lord of the Rings set. I borrowed these books from my dad as a college student (after reading his copy of The Hobbit in high school), and I have a deep attachment to that particular edition. I’ve unearthed copies of the trilogy in Oxford, Paris and Boston, and it was so fitting and fun to complete my set with a Hobbit from D.C.

My suitcase was several pounds heavier on the plane ride home, but it was totally worth it.

This post contains IndieBound affiliate links.

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