Quirky little Jamaica Plain, the liberal, funky, new bohemian meets retro yuppie neighborhood in the city of Boston, has a great shopping district (if a stretch of Centre Street about five blocks long can be considered a “district”). I can’t guarantee you’ll get out with your wallet in tact, but with an afternoon to kill, you should be able to find something for everyone on your list.
Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start…
The very first shop you’ll come to as you stroll along Centre Street in the retail and restaurant section of town is Pluto. Nestled between the Ten Tables French restaurant and the new Bon Savor café, Pluto is a treasure trove of eclectic items, perfect for the gift shopper. Scented candles and jewelry, calendars and journals, novelty items of all kinds abound in the remarkably dense little store. Its emphasis is on fun, high quality items, quirky finds, and humor. It’s a little pricey, but whether you are shopping for a man, woman, or child, you can usually count on Pluto to have something fun and appropriate. Pluto is located at 603 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Phone: (617) 522-0054.
About one city block south and across the street, step into Jamaicaway Books and Gifts. Jamaicaway is a beautiful shop with a large selection of bestsellers and African American authors. African art and trinkets adorn the beautiful little store, and are for sale. You’ll find masks, paintings, jewelry, carved boxes… all kinds of things. There are gems to be found for a variety of folks on your Kringle list. Jamaicaway Books and Gifts is located at 676 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130. Phone: (617) 983-3204.
Just across from Jamaicaway and slightly south is Fire Opal. Fire Opal is a jewelry and artisan shop. Walking in, you are immediately struck by the light and color of the store as stained glass and crystals hung strategically give one the impression of walking into a dazzling, sparkling wonderland. Cases of hand made jewelry and pieces of art, clothing, metal pieces, glass and ceramic ware can all be found for sale at Fire Opal. A store that represents artists and their works, many of them local, it is a great help at Christmas time if you can afford the charms inside. Fire Opal is located at 683 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Phone: (617) 524-0262.
Continue south another block and cross the street again. If you haven’t managed to cross just everyone off your list yet, Boomerangs just may be your last salvation. An ultra hip thrift shop which is run by and benefits the AIDS Action Committee, a greater Boston support organization for people living with HIV and AIDS, Boomerangs has the usual secondhand clothing, home goods, jewelry, furniture and the like, but it also has an area right in the front with some very cool first hand gifts. There is an assortment of gift shop items, all reasonably priced, including candles, bath accessories, mementos and baubles. The selection is ever changing, so repeat visits are always fun. Boomerangs is located at 716 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. Phone: (617) 524-5120.
Last but not least, hop across Centre Street one last time and cruise on into Boing. It’s name says it all. Boing is a wonderful little toy shop with games, toys, plush animals, books, gadgets and educational aids. Shopping there, where the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is fun and relaxed just may get you out of that trudge through Toys R Us this year. The selection is impressive for kids of all ages, and finding the right toy can be easier in a smaller, less overwhelming setting. Boing is located at 729 Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, MA. Phone: (617) 522-7800.