Blick Art Materials
Blick handles the supply side of the Boston art world, complete with everything from spray cans and glitter to a zillion kinds of collage paper and whatever else. Think Walmart with black-rimmed glasses and cool colors. An art supermarket with a soul.
[401 Park Dr., Boston, 617.247.3322, @Blick_Art, dickblick.com]
RUNNER UP: Artist & Craftsman Supply
[580 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.354.3636, @ArtistCraftsman, artistcraftsman.com]
Ball and Buck
Forget for just a second that this Back Bay gentleman’s mecca has a brilliant spread of dapper macho goodies. They also have a master barber on hand to chop, cut, shave, trim, or whatever else is needed to transform unkempt scruff into nonchalant masculine charm. It goes without saying, but ask for the hot towel.
[144 Newbury St., 617.262.1776, @BallandBuck, ballandbuck.com]
RUNNER UP: Floyd’s 99 Barbershop
[189 Mass Ave., 617.236.4838, @Floyds99, floydsbarbershop.com]
There’s a reason SHAG is a favorite among young and daring salon-goers, and it’s not just the sexy name, or the fact that their outfit churns out adventurous ‘dos. Between the loud beats (it helps that owner Sandy Poirer is also a DJ), the stylists, and rockstar grooming atmosphere, it’s an ideal place to kick back, talk shit, and find out who’s screwing who around town.
[840 Summer St, 617.268.2500, @SHAGBOSTON, shagboston.com]
RUNNER UP: Judy Jetson
[1765 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.354.2628, @judyjetsonsalon, judyjetson.com]
Cambridge Bicycle Shop
One bike shop’s superiority over others is obviously based on the staff, and at Cambridge Bicycle, we’ve found people to be nicer than the hipster dicks at other pit stops. Expect affordable repairs and inventory alike, plus rentals, customs, and even competition frames for daredevils in tight outfits.
[259 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617.876.6555, cambridgebicycle.com]
RUNNER UP: Ferris Wheels
[66 South St., Jamaica Plain, 617.524.2453, @ferrisbikeshop, ferriswheelsbikeshop.com]
When you’re an absolutely insane comic fiend or hooked on illustrated books in any way, it’s critical to have a dealer who can stroke your every fix. A heroically reliable spot for all kinds of comics in their many forms, Comicazi also features kitsch and other worthwhile distractions to irresponsibly explode your rent wad on.
[407 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617.666.2664, @Comicazi, comicazi.com]
RUNNER UP: New England Comics
[215B Harvard Ave., Allston, 617.566.3509, @NEcomics, newenglandcomics.com]
In Boston, Paul Fox is to eyeglasses what Big Papi is to grand slams. Sure, designer shades are arguably less glamorous than baseball stardom, but Fox, formerly of Eye Q, has had one hell of a run at it, hooking up celebrities on local movie sets, and collaborating with designers from Boston and beyond.
[544 Tremont St., South End, 617.542.9600, spectacle-eyeware.com]
RUNNER UP: Eye Q Optical
[615 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617.983.3937, eye-q-optical.com]
Stop lying to yourself and everyone around you. You love Etsy and spend half of your free time spelunking for resin-molded Christmas decorations. This is basically analog Etsy, with surprises ranging from flexible drink coasters to bird decor straight out of Portlandia.
[1309 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617.864.0656, @BoutiqueFab, boutiquefabulous.com]
RUNNER UP: Magpie
[416 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617.623.3330, magpie-store.com]
Not everyone is dumb enough to think a classic diamond is a girl’s best friend. Some women have unique style, and those cop their bling at boutiques like Persona. They carry high-end engagement gifts, sure, but only in addition to a mesmerizing buffet of eclectic and affordable pieces from regional and local jewelry makers.
[504 Comm Ave., 617.266.3003, @PersonaElite, personastyle.com]
RUNNER UP: Fire Opal
[683 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617.524.0262, @fireopalboston, fire-opal.com]
We remember when Salmagundi showed up by the Jamaica Plain monument with high hopes of becoming Boston’s leading hatter. They’ve far-surpassed those debut goals, now offering not only classic, modern, and athletic tops, but also scarves, gloves, and interesting gear galore. We hate to have to say it, but hats off to ‘em.
[765 Centre St., 617.522.5047, @Salmagundi, salmagundiboston.com]
RUNNER UP: Goorin Bros.
[130 Newbury St., 617.247.4287, @GoorinBros, goorin.com]
The Handle Bar
It’s easy to write off many of the nouveau ways to lose pounds as ridiculous fads. It’s far less easy to actually get your ass in shape. At The Handle Bar, though, their studio cycling approach to indoor exercise is fun enough to get and keep you motivated. Also, it’s less smelly than hot yoga, but not by very much.
[141 Dorchester Ave, 617.451.1270, @The_Handle_Bar, handlebarcycling.com]
RUNNER UP: Barry’s Boot Camp
[30 Chauncy St, 857.350.4019, @BarrysBootcamp, barrysbootcamp.com]
BOXING & MIXED MARTIAL ARTS
The Club by George Foreman III
Fresh on the block and already swinging hard, this modern update on a classic boxing gym–owned and operated by the Hub’s very own George Foreman–is quickly signing up a starter crop of 500 contenders. The place is gorgeous, plus built for both fitness and learning how to kick ass. Closefisted applause are in order.
[15 Channel Center St., everybodyfights.com]
RUNNER UP: Peter Welch’s Gym
[371-393 Dorchester Ave., 617.269.4641, peterwelchsgym.com]
Photo credit: Larissa Burgess
There are the super cool kid yoga labs where everybody and their lover can see all of your business, and then there’s Blissful Monkey, a relaxing down-to-earth JP studio with privacy plus classes specializing in prenatal and other niche practices. Not to be confused with more cultish yoga studios we won’t name without alcohol.
[663 Centre St., 617.522.4411, blissfulmonkey.com]
RUNNER UP: O2 Yoga
[288 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617.625.0267, @O2_yoga, o2yoga.com]
We love telling oblivious people that there’s a place for them to rent a hot tub right in Cambridge, and it’s called Inman Oasis. They tend to strip down to their skivvies and hop right on the bus to Inman Square. Without a doubt it’s our number one place to dip, soak, and socialize with significant or not-so-significant others. Mostly the latter.
[243 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617.491.0176, @inmanoasis, inmanoasis.com]
RUNNER UP: Exhale Mind Body Spa
[28 Arlington St., Boston, 617.532.7000, @exhalespa, exhalespa.com]
We went into Kitchenwitch the other day to secure the brick and mortar tools needed to bake weed brownies. They came through completely. In addition to an awesome rubber ladle, non-stick baking pans, and a baby whisk, they even had cheese cloth in stock. In short: they have whatever you need.
[671 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617.524.6800, @kitchenwitchjp, kitchenwitchjp.tumblr.com]
RUNNER UP: Tags Hardware
[29 White St., Cambridge, 617.868.7711, @TAGSHardware, tagshardware.com]
Photo credit: Mona Maruyama
SEX & LINGERIE
If the Red Sox had an official vibrator like they have an exclusive plumber, the sex shop furnishing said dildo would probably be Good Vibrations. Pretty classy for a place that sells handcuffs and screw toys, and we hope to see their swinging ad up on the Green Monster one day.
[308A Harvard St., Brookline, 617.264.4400, @GoodVibesToys, goodvibes.com]
RUNNER UP: Hubba Hubba
[534 Mass. Ave., Cambridge, 617.492.9082, @hubbahubba09, hubbahubba.com]
With Daddy’s Junky Music gone for good, we cherish Mr. Music more than ever and their dreamy spread of Gibson guitar goodness, new and used amps and accessories. We’re hoping Allston and its 30 million musicians can keep this place going; the last thing any rocker wants is to have to buy a Rickenbacker online.
[128 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617.783.1609, @MrMusicBoston, mrmusicguitars.com]
RUNNER UP: The Audio Lab
[36 John F. Kennedy St., Cambridge, 617.8649810, theaudiolab.com]
NEW BOOKS BOOKSTORE
Nothing quite goes with a piece of pie and coffee like a new book or your favorite rare and freakishly gigantic fashion rag that you can only find at a spot like Trident. A favorite meeting place for java hounds and bookworms, this Newbury Street gem may be the best place in Boston to lose yourself in caffeine, magazines, and literature.
[338 Newbury St., 617.267.8688, @TridentBooks, tridentbookscafe.com]
RUNNER UP: Porter Square Books
[25 White St., Cambridge, 617.491.2220, @PorterSqBooks, portersquarebooks.com]
USED BOOKS BOOKSTORE
Brattle Book Shop
Coolly situated among the restaurants and sneaker stores that currently comprise Downtown Crossing, the Brattle Book Shop is seemingly the single entity that, thankfully, never disappears in Boston’s oft-neglected shopping district. Go for the antique selections year-round, but stop by in the warmer weather for their outdoor rows of quality used pickings.
[9 West St., Boston, 617.542.0210, @brattlebookshop, brattlebookshop.com]
RUNNER UP: Tres Gatos
[470 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617.477.4851, @TresGatosJP, tresgatosjp.com]
Photo credit: Larissa Burgess
The only reason that The Hempest wins the honor of our favorite head shop is because we have no category for the kind of dank and radical glass-and-earth emporium this Newbury Street nook has become since its inception. The weed world is much wider than most folks realize. Let The Hempest lead your way.
[207 Newbury St., 617.421.9944, @Hempest, hempest.com]
RUNNER UP: Green Side Up Gallery
[202 Harvard Ave., Allston, 617.487.4882, @GSUGallery, greensideupgallery.com]
It took all of about two weeks for Deep Thoughts to settle into its South Street hangout. From the very beginning, they had a couch on hand, and a gaggle of cheery music fiends to ride it all day long. Their inventory has since grown into an amorphous cornucopia of vinyl, plus collectibles and other geeksakes.
[138 South St., 617.522.3587, deepthoughtsjp.com]
RUNNER UP: In Your Ear
[957 Comm Ave., 617.787.9755, iye.com]
SAULT New England
We rarely recommend shedding your entire paycheck on a single shopping spree, but such a splurge may be in order at SAULT New England. Good for a solid selection of Boston prep and Kennedy couture–plus every accessory you need for a Nantucket run–consider this a boarding schooler’s answer to Urban Outfitters.
[577 Tremont St., 857.239.9434, @Saultne, saultne.com]
RUNNER UP: Uncle Pete’s
[119 Charles St., 617.391.0895, @unclepetesshop]
It’s impossible to corner the market on contemporary women’s clothing in the Beacon Hill and Back Bay areas. Yet Crush Boutique has done just that to much of the competition with a rotating selection of both modern apparel and timeless bags and accessories. Plus Spanx.
[131 Charles St., 617.720.0010, @CrushBoutique, shopcrushboutique.com]
RUNNER UP: Covet
[395 W Broadway St., 617.268.1100, covetboston.com]
At most thrift shops, we’re worried about contracting scabies. At most vintage shops, the concern is more that someone bought something with scabies from a thrift shop, then dry-cleaned it and marked the product up by 400 percent. Not at Buffalo Exchange. With zero garbage in stock, they have proper prices on all the crazy old shit we desire.
[180 Harvard St., Allston, 617.779.7901, @buffaloexchange, buffaloexchange.com]
RUNNER UP: Bobby from Boston
[19 Thayer St., 617.423.9299, @bobbyfboston]
The best thing we can say about Goodwill is that we’d still be shopping there if we weren’t living check-to-check and eating the occasional cheese sandwich out of the trash. We’d tell you what you might expect to find there, but it’s all about who shows up first, and we’re already in the car driving over.
[965 Comm Ave., 617.254.0112, @goodwillboston, goodwillmass.org]
RUNNER UP: The Garment District
[200 Broadway, Cambridge, 617.876.5230, @GarmentDistrict, garment-district.com]
Being that Chuck Taylors are the most culturally ubiquitous fashion staple of the past 100 years, it’s pretty cool that Boston has one of the planet’s premier Converse emporiums to shop and frolic. They’ll customize your kicks with no problem, but chances are they already have a painted pair prepared for your unique palette.
[348 Newbury St., 617.424.5400, @Converse, converse.com]
RUNNER UP: Concepts
[37 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.868.2001, @cncpts, cncpts.com]
Fat Ram’s Pumpkin Tattoo
In a city filled with countless tattooed gods and goddesses plus plenty of exotic shops for ink and piercings, Fat Ram’s stands out as a choice parlor for heavily colored tat junkies as well as pedestrian Sox fans looking for a baseball tramp stamp. Call ahead and plan in advance. They’ll take great care of your virgin epidermis.
[374 Centre St., Jamaica Plain, 617.522.6444, pumpkintattoo.com]
RUNNER UP: Stingray
[386 Cambridge St., Allston, 617.254.0666, @StingrayBodyArt, stingraybodyart.com]
From rugged shit-kickers, to loafers, to wingtips, to designers shit-kickers, The Tannery has shown again and again that they rule for leather footwear fit for everyone from thugs to gentlemen. Their selection of Clarks is worthy of a Wu-Tang shoutout; the Ecco joints are breathtaking. Trust us. Walk a mile in their shoes.
[39 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.491.1811, @ShopTheTannery, thetannery.com]
RUNNER UP: Uniform
[511 Tremont St., 617.247.2360, @UniformBoston, uniformboston.com]
Orchard is the kind of skateboard lunatics’ Xanadu that East Coast punks dreamed long and hard about back in the 1980s. Now, it actually exists for us to gather, hang with other skate rats, and fuck around on the indoor ramp if we feel like it. With a rad line of in-house gear to boot, we’re ready to break some bones every time we enter.
[156 Harvard Ave., Allston 617.782.7777, @OrchardShop, orchardshop.com]
RUNNER UP: The Vans DQM General
[174 Newbury St., 617.262.0333, @VANSDQM, vansdqm.com]
Since a bomb was tragically placed in front of Marathon Sports last April 15, it’s been impossible to think about this complete runner’s oasis without feeling some kind of sadness. Of course, the thought that they persevered, and continue to serve Boston bravely, makes us happier than anything.
[671 Boylston St., 617.267.4774, @Marathon_Sports, marathonsports.com]
RUNNER UP: City Sports
[44 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617.492.6000, @citysports, citysports.com]
Polka Dog Bakery
The Polka Dog carries the kind of canine smorgasbord that comedians hilariously mock. Chances are that most pets dining here eat better than their owners. Nevertheless–unless you’re some kind of human savage, you like to shower treats upon your quadruped best friend, and there’s nary a better place to spoil them silly.
[110 K St., 617.307.6733, @polkadogbakery, polkadog.com]
RUNNER UP: Bark Place
[1721 Washington St., 857.362.7494, @BarkPlaceBoston, barkplacesouthend.com]