West Elm’s Fenway Store Goes ‘Local’
Boston is one of eight markets that will now sell products by area artists.
In January, West Elm launched its LOCAL initiative demonstrating a larger commitment to their store’s communities. Some of the chain’s select locations are curating product from local artisans which, in turn, are sold in neighborhood shops. Only eight markets have been selected to be part of this initial launch, and Boston is one of them.
This evening, West Elm in Fenway will celebrate its new LOCAL line featuring nine Boston-area artisans, an eclectic group that creates a variety of goods ranging from utilitarian tote bags to uniquely shaped planters. One thing they all have in common is their use of the vibrant handmade marketplace, Etsy.com. West Elm partnered with Etsy to identify local makers and designers who sell their work wholesale on the site.
“It’s rare in the world of big box stores to find such attention to small, unique subsets of products that aren’t offered throughout the entire chain,” says Shelley Barandes, who started Somerville-based Albertine Press in 2005. “It makes shopping a much more personal experience, and something more of a treasure—you never know what you’ll find in the store, so you shouldn’t just shop online.”
Barandes does custom design work largely for wedding invitations, but she also has a line of greeting cards and journals available at shops across the country. West Elm will be carrying her Letterpress Library volumes of decorative notecards that show iconic scenes from Boston and Cape Cod as well as her popular pocket journals.
Another artisan whose work will be featured at the shop, Jennifer Hill graduated from MassArt and before launching JHill Design in 2004. West Elm will be featuring Hill’s Boston items, including a map of the city’s neighborhoods each identified by a unique pattern, plus the Prudential Tower showing off its Sox fandom (pictured above).
In addition to Albertine Press and JHill, other locals whose work are now available at West Elm Fenway include Culinarium Kitchenware, of Newburyport; Forest Bound, of Allston; Re-Studios, of Arlington; Shanman Clay Co., of Jamaica Plain; Taylor Ceramics, of Easthampton; The Uncommon Green, of South Boston; and Whitney Somerville, of Sherborn.
Thursday, May 2, from 6-8 p.m. West Elm, 160 Brookline Avenue, Boston. Free admission, RSVP to 617-450-9500. If you or someone you know is a “local maker,” send recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.