As a Boston-native, I love to keep up on all of the new and exciting shops that I can visit on my next visit across the country. Boston is lucky enough to be the home of one of the newest retail additions to the Northeast—a reimagined and reopened, unique shop on the waterfront called Front.
Originally, Front operated as the "front" space of Martin and Michele Yeeles's (Bob's Your Uncle) wholesale space and showroom. In October of 2013, however, Laura Sabolefski—former general manager of Boston's other unique and quirky retail gem, Black Ink—took over the space and began to create a new vision for Front. Along with beautiful ceramics and other housewares, the shop stocks greeting cards, coffee table books, gifts and curiosities of all shapes and sizes. If you're in Boston, definitely take a trip to browse the unique lovelies here.
Name/Title: Laura Sabolefski, Owner
Launch date: October 1, 2013
Inspiration for opening: I've worked in retail forever, it seems. I grew up in a country store around people and watched my parents and grandparents interact with the community. I guess it stuck with me. After college and a few years in the greenhouse industry, I took a part-time job for one of the most interesting and kindest couples I have ever met, Susan and Tim Corcoran, owners of Black Ink and The Museum of Useful Things. Part-time became full-time, which turned into a position as General Manager/ Merchandiser, etc. I loved working for Susan, I love her stores, I think she has built a fantastic business. But a move took me to California where I got a job working for another amazing, woman-owned, independent retailer—The Gardener, in Berkeley.
Merchandise source: The best part of my job at The Gardener was being able to work with artists producing wonderful product. I loved knowing the person behind the product and the story that went along with it. I would love Front's product mix to be mostly local, but there are so many beautiful items coming out of Japan, India, etc. that I can't help but bring them in! And it's amazing how many talented people I have come to meet over the years. We have ceramics in the store produced in Rhode Island by the woman that hired me at Black Ink, Anna Galloway Highsmith. My friend Mary Alison Lucas is a fantastic ceramicist in California and has sent along some ceramic fortune cookies. During my time at Black Ink I was introduced to a Boston local, Susy Pilgrim Waters, and was happy to contact her when I started so that I could carry her wonderful textiles. Through Susy I met a few other very talented women in the Boston area. I'm lucky to have pieces from Julia Talcott and Cat Benett, plus candles made here in Cambridge by Kirsty Allore. Of course, I can't finish without proudly promoting the fantastic salad severs that my parents are currently making out of their home in Central Massachusetts!
Best selling item: Our best selling item is a tough call, as we've been open for less than three months, and we are just starting to adopt a steady customer base. Quite possibly my parents servers!
Your favorite item: My favorite items, right now, are the Nana bells from India. The colors in the metals and the tone are just enchanting.
Favorite store (other than your own): Black Ink will always have a place in my heart, but since my stay in California I have come to love the simplicity of stores like Mill Mercantile in San Francisco and Atomic Garden in Oakland. Ooh! But one of my absolute favorites is Tail of the Yak in Berkeley. Ah! Too many to choose from! I love retail.
25 Channel Center Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
(Image credits: Martin Yeeles)