Stretching down the center of Back Bay, Newbury Street is a mile-long strip of high-end designer clothing stores and five-star spas, prominent galleries, and gourmet cafes. On breezy summer afternoons, bistros spill open onto the sidewalks. In the winter, the city strings white Christmas lights that cling to the sparse trees like icicles. Every store on this luxury-lined street is filled with valuable takeaways, from engagement rings at Cartier to hand-beaded Gucci gowns. But with thousands of racks to sift through, the ones that keep my attention have an extra-something that is wholly unique to Boston. A stroll down Newbury will take you past shops that have been elevated to local landmarks, and narrow outposts for independent designs by Boston natives. While you’ll likely leave with an incredible find, the most memorable part of Newbury Street shopping comes without a price tag. These stores and boutiques stock some memorable stories to go along with their wicked good buys.
Read T+L’s Boston Shopping Guide for more shopping ideas.
Formerly Niketown, this popular brand store recently revamped to become a two-story behemoth in honor of Boston’s celebrated sports heritage. The city’s running culture takes precedent here, and the entire first floor is dedicated to men’s and women’s footwear and jogging apparel. Stop in to get a running analysis before hitting the streets in a new pair of sneaks with the Nike+ Run Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or training for the annual Boston Marathon.
Never let bygones be bygones at this retro-chic boutique, originally known as the Bettie Page Clothing Company. Specializing in “1950‘s reproduction,” the dresses here are pin-up posh and vintage-inspired. With a vibrant range of sizes, colors and fabrics, the friendly staff knows their stuff and will help you find your most flattering fit. Don’t leave without twirling in a crinoline-fluffed circle skirt, or squeezing into a Mad Men-style wiggle dress.
Boston Olive Oil Company
This family-owned business is Boston’s first olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar. Now’s the chance to sample wild mushroom and sage-infused olive oil and learn that it pairs well with cinnamon pear white balsamic vinegar, too. With over fifty varieties to compare and contrast, you can easily eat your way through the rows of stainless steel Italian fustis at the tasting bar. Boston Olive Oil Company’s vinegars and oils are all preservative-, chemical-, and additive-free.
Don’t be fooled—this is not your average comic book store. The beloved flagship location of this local-roots New England novelty chain is the epicenter of all things geeky, random, and wonderful. It’s best known for a kickass selection of exclusive vinyl albums and consigned DVDs, though you’ll have the most fun exploring the pop culture kitsch and quirky trinkets. Mustache ice cube trays, Star Wars-themed suspenders, and life-size cardboard cutouts of Edward Cullen make for humorous gag gifts or self-indulgent pleasures.
Featuring fashion newcomers and popular celeb-approved mainstays, this Boston boutique has clothed the city’s most prominent trendsetters. Childhood friends Rebecca Penner and Laura Macris decided to make playing dress-up their grown-up careers when they launched their debut location in Beacon Hill at only 25 years old. Look for local designers like Brookline-born Sally Tseng among the racks of pastel rompers and floor-dusting maxi dresses.