As a financial aid student at one of the nation’s most costly schools, shopping is not a particularly frequent activity of mine. When my wealthier roommate asked if I would like to join her on a shopping trip to the Newbury Street, I agreed with this project in mind. Though of course I have passed through this area on numerous occasions, never had I ever seen the inner workings of the people that belong here.
The idea of luxuriously ambling through stores being able to buy anything I so desire is a foreign concept to me. The same is not true of my shopping buddy. I was in for a shock when the shopping trip became an absolute shopping spree. Without much of a thought beyond the designer’s name, she never even glanced at the price tag before confidently brandishing her trusty credit card at the gleaming white counter.
But it is not just my classmate who seemed to know the area like the back of her manicured hand. Gaggles of girls with a Blackberry in one hand and a Starbucks Frappacino in the other strolled past us, eyeing the pricy clothing in every window display. Sophisticated women pass briskly, leaving a permeating fragrance of her signature perfume in the air. On their way to a glamorous lunch or to shop the trends at Marc Jacobs, or Burberry, or Bang & Olufsen, the shoppers looked bored if anything. The pounding music of the shops and the pestering of the sales clerks did not even alter the expressions on the veteran shoppers’ made-up faces.
The actual area deserves the glamor that it is associated with. Perhaps the anti-mall, Newbury boasts rustic brownstones and a traditional New England feel that provide quite the charming atmosphere. However, proving that shopping destinations shift just like the trends the house, Newbury Street wasn’t always as prestigious or even fashionable as it is today. The first store opened in 1905 and not until 1976 when two MIT students opened Newbury Comics did the area garner any attention. The Boston Globe reported that the renowned Louis Boston store will be moving after 2010 from the street. Marking a shift away from the signature and custom stores that once lined the cobblestone sidewalks, this store’s departure signifies the coming of more generic and chain stores.
After the day that I spent on Newbury, I wasn’t left with as much envy as I had expected. Just as the area is heading towards a more generic shopping district, I also found less individuality about the style and mannerisms of the trendy pedestrians than I do in many other parts of the city. Maybe the conformity not only embodies the shops themselves, but also their patrons.