Monday, February 21, 2011

These Are the People in Your Neighborhood

According to the literature that came with my 2012 parking pass, my city, Cambridge, Massachusetts, has the highest percentage of people who walk or bike to work in the nation. (I wonder if I count in that statistic? It's about a 30-foot walk from my bed to my couch.)

I'm not a native of Cambridge -- I grew up in Pennsylvania -- but I was fond of Cambridge from my very first visit. I'm very, very happy to live here, and I hope I'll continue to do so for a long time.

Unfortunately, at the moment, I am a heartbroken Cambridge resident. Why? Because Bob Slate is closing. :( :( :(

Bob Slate's Stationer is the independent store where I buy my Edward Gorey notecards. And my Where the Wild Things Are notecards. And all my other notecards. And my pens and pencils and erasers. And my pirate stickers. And my jousting knight stickers. And my shark temporary tattoos. And my Post-it notes. Most importantly, and I'm actually getting a little teary here, Bob Slate is where I buy my writing notebooks. Ever since I started writing, I've bought my notebook there. Even when I lived in London, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, Bob Slate was where I got my notebooks, because I have never been able to find another store like them. Bob Slate is on speed dial on both of my phones and if you knew how much I hate telephones you would appreciate the significance of that.

Behold Graceling, Fire, Bitterblue, and my sadness.

Those of us who love Bob Slate (and there are many of us) are suffering from melancholy these days. (BTW, a note to the wise: if you are waiting until the big close-out sale to stock up on Bob Slate supplies, I would stop doing that. I was in the Mass Ave Harvard Square store recently, and the shelves were practically empty. Cambridge is panicking, people! Get to the stores quick if you want anything at all!)

So, I thought I'd use this post to highlight a few of my favorite Cambridge indies. I'll tell you a few words about why I love them and hope it'll get you thinking about the independent stores where you live. Try to support them when you can.

Brattle Square Florist, 31 Brattle St, Cambridge, MA 02138.
This is actually my favorite store in the world. If you're ever in Harvard Square, just walk in, stop, and look. You'll understand why I love it so. For those of you who can't visit the store: it's this tiny, beautiful, perfect little corner of the earth, all green and full of flowers and plants from front to back. It is SO CALMING in there. I also love the people who work there. Never go away, Brattle Square Florist!

The Swiss Watchmaker, 58 Church St, Cambridge, MA 02138.
I walked into the Switch Watchmaker the other day (in the company of codename: Apocalyptica the Flimflammer) and said to the man behind the counter, "I want a simple watch with no colors, no sparkly crap, and definitely numbers." About half an hour later, I walked out with a watch that had a pink face and sparkly crap *instead of* numbers. What can I say? I fell in love with the watch. I'm going to wear it every day for the rest of my life. And I *can* wear it every day, because it's a brand that's virtually indestructible. Here's what the man behind the counter said: "It's pink and it sparkles, but it's a TANK." Hello. Seriously, did someone who knows me tell him I was coming and give him a profile? Is there anything he could have possibly said to make me more likely to buy the watch?

Petsi Pies, 31 Putnam Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 and 285 Beacon St, Somerville, MA 02143.
This is my favorite place to run to get a sandwich in the middle of a workday. Their sandwiches are SO YUMMY, as are their tarts, plus, it's never a bad idea to pick up a cookie or a cupcake for later. The people are great, too. Once I came in and discovered I hadn't brought quite enough cash. They let me have my food anyway, because they recognized me as a regular. :o) AND I was there once on the day before Thanksgiving, and the place was practically filled, from floor to ceiling, with boxed pies. It was adorable.

Dado Tea and Coffee, 955 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139 and 50 Church St, Cambridge, MA 02139.
Notice how "tea" comes first? I love a good teahouse. And this one has YUMMY food as well. I bring work here sometimes; there are very few places I'm able to do that. Actually, I'm suddenly remembering a funny stream of days about a year ago when I kept trying to bring work to Dado, but as soon as I'd sat down with my rooibos chai and my tofu ginger salad, my agent called with some kind of emergency and I had to go running home again. Three days in a row, I came in, ordered the same thing, sat down, spread out my work, then asked for a take-out box and left in a mad rush. Ha! Anyway. The fact that I kept trying suggests how much I was looking forward to a peaceful workday there.

Skenderian Apothecary, 1613 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02138.
When I told a friend I wanted to mention Skenderian Apothecary in this post, she provided me with a list of the reasons why she adores this pharmacy. Here are just a few: if you're a regular, the three Skenderian brothers welcome you by name. They're open to specialized circumstances. They can do pet meds if you want them to. They will help you solve and understand insurance issues. They are EXTREMELY knowledgeable and helpful with questions about meds that your doc may be too rushed to bother telling you. They have excellent stocks of medical and disability supplies. They deliver. Basically, they are awesome.

I could keep going, but *ahem* I'm on a blog break, so that's it for now.

Support independent businesses when you can!