I was walking from Central to Harvard yesterday morning and I noticed that the Porter cluster of furniture stores about midway between those squares is changing.  Maybe a sign of the economic times, maybe just neighborhood evolution.  Since I’m in the market for some new furniture and trying to think more locally-minded (like my favorite local localvore, chef J), the changes were especially interesting.  Here’s a Ruscha-style rundown of all the furniture stores on Mass ave between Central and Harvard:

The Door Store

Probably the most truly local of the batch, the Door Store has been here since the 70’s and builds much of their wares on-site. I love their cable spool tables – not like you had in college, these are smooth-varnished with the central well filled in with bits of contrasting wood.


I thought Heartwood was done for but they just moved across the street and a couple of blocks down.  They specialize in Northeast hardwoods and local design so definitely get local cred.  It’s awfully nice stuff.  The winter sale is on for a few more days.

BoConcept and Basics

Quite the yin and yang pairing, the shiny new and very very euro BoConcept lives above agreeably grungy long-time local joint Basics.  Basics also recently relocated from the other end of the block.  Bo has a sale on holiday merchandise.

At 1033, beneath professor N’s old haunt, the WCFIA, HOMEdesign’s empty shell is for rent just across the street from the former homes of Heartwood and Basics.  Bad furniture mojo here.

Design Within Reach

I always bristle a little at the suggestion that there’s anything “within reach” at this shop, but the designer reproductions are awfully attractive.  And they have FLOR, which I covet.  They’re having a workspace sale now.

Dynasty Orientique

Despite the cringeworthy name, this place has a nice selection of Asian furniture and decor that provides an alternative to local goliath Mohr+McPherson.  If only for that reason, I hope they survive (don’t get me wrong, I love M+M)  but the current sale has the stink of liquidation.  Time to snap up that tansu you’ve been coveting.  M+M is having a sale too.

City Schemes

Almost as Euro as Bo and not as officious as DWR, CitySchemes doesn’t have any local credentials other than not being part of a national or global chain, and at this end of the Cambridge Furniture District, that says something.  I hope this 50% off sale gets them some business.  Also check out their warehouse in Somerville.

Crate & Barrel

This used to be the next-to-last stop on the tour, but since Bowl & Board decamped for Davis Square, C&B has inherited the anchor position.  And picketers, too.  (Does anybody know why?  I was in a hurry and didn’t ask)  It’s been here a long time but it’s still a chain.  I’ll miss the funky Harvard Square housewares store, but I won’t mourn this one if it fades away.  They might have a sale, but as long as those guys are picketing, it doesn’t matter to me.

So, can I feather my new nest all locally from these shops?  It seems unlikely on my budget, but the merchandise is nice and the sales are enticing.  More generally, how can we all shop more locally to support our wounded economy and protect our neighborhoods?  I’m hoping the folks at Apartment Therapy Boston for one, pick up the thread and continue to feature more local designers and providers.  What other local design clusters are out there?