Shopping in Boston

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Boston Shopping

Shopping in Boston is a lot like the city itself: a mix of classic and cutting-edge, the high-end and the handmade, and international and local sensibilities. Though many Bostonians think too many chain stores have begun to clog their distinctive avenues, there remains a strong network of idiosyncratic gift stores, handicrafts shops, galleries, and a growing number of savvy, independent fashion boutiques. For the well-heeled, there are also plenty of glossy international designer shops.

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Most stores accept major credit cards and traveler’s checks. There’s no state sales tax on clothing. However, there’s a 6.25% sales tax on clothes priced higher than $175 per item; the tax is levied on the amount in excess of $175.

Boston’s shops are generally open Monday through Saturday from 10 or 11 am until 6 or 7 pm and Sunday from noon to 5. Many stay open until 8 pm one night a week, usually Thursday. Malls are open Monday through Saturday from 9 or 10 am until 8 or 9 pm and Sunday from noon to 6.

Study the T map before plunging into a shopping tour of Boston or Cambridge. You’re almost always better off leaving your car behind than trying to navigate congested city streets and puzzle out parking arcana. Most major shopping neighborhoods are easily accessible on the T: Boston’s Charles Street and Downtown Crossing and Cambridge’s Harvard, Central, and Porter squares are on the Red Line; Copley Place, Faneuil Hall, and Newbury Street are on the Green Line; the South End is an easy trip on the Orange Line.

Head to Louis Boston for exquisitely made clothing and personalized attention.

Pick up a Red Sox hat at the T-shirt stand outside Fenway Park on a game day.

Make an appointment with designer Daniela Corte to buy one of her signature custom-made wrap dresses.

Pick up a slew of Danish-designed tableware and home decor (that no one else will have!) at Lekker in the South End.

Hit Charles Street to troll through the dozens of antiques shops.

Beantown Bahgains. Thriftiness is considered one of the highest moral virtues in New England—even when buying luxury items. At DSW you can always find high-end designer shoes for both sexes at decent prices. Several shops full of watches and jewelry at reduced prices (some barely above wholesale) are found along Washington Street. If vintage is your thing, Newbury Street is dotted with consignment shops lined with gently worn Prada, Gucci, Burberry, and their ilk. Look first in Second Time Around, or try across the river in Harvard Square at Oona’s. Both are also known to carry more daring labels such as Chloé and Catherine Malandrino for women, and Ermenegildo Zegna for men.

Books. Boston is a bibliophile’s dream. For rare, antique, or just plain unusual books, start at Ars Libri Ltd. in the South End, a few blocks away from the Back Bay T stop. From here, head to Newbury Street (turn right on Waltham Street, walk three blocks, and cross Tremont Street, then pick up Clarendon Street to Newbury Street) for a break at the Trident Booksellers & Café, one of the city’s first bookstore-cafés, almost directly across the street. Alternatively, from Ars Libri follow Waltham to Tremont Street, make a right, and head over the turnpike to reach West Street and the Brattle Bookshop. From here, catch the Red Line T into Harvard Square to browse through the Harvard Book Store and, just around the corner, Grolier Poetry Bookshop.

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