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slides: 10 Booming Hipster Businesses in Worcester

Monday, August 06, 2012


The Futon Company is one of many hipster businesses booming in Worcester. Photo: Lindsay Corcoran

With the support of an emerging hipster community in Worcester, these local businesses are booming.

“It’s great to be a part of this growing retail community in Worcester,” said Candace Atchue, co-owner of Seed to Stem.

These businesses appealing to the young, funky, eco-friendly crowd range from bars and restaurants to consignment shops to tattoo parlors and salons.

Consignment shop owners said their stores fit with a variety of aspects of the hipster lifestyle with eco-friendly fashion.

“I think it’s becoming sort of popular or trendy with the younger, college crowd to buy recycled goods,” said Alexis Grace owner Leah Long.

Restaurant and bar owner Alec Lopez said the hipster market is stronger than even he expected.

“When we opened Armsby Abbey, we planned to be mainly a bar with just a small menu,” Lopez said. “The demand became so strong for our local, organic food that we’re going to be expanding our kitchen.”

While the hipster community may support these service and retail businesses in Worcester, it could have larger implications for the city's economy at large.

Seattle, named the top hipster city in the country by Travel + Leisure, has seen an economic boom as a result of their hipster community.

“We’ve seen a real boom in tech companies,” said Karin Zaugg Black, communication director for Seattle’s Office of Economic Development. Black attributed the boom to the influx of recent college graduates to the city. “They are attracted by the natural surroundings as well as the music, film and art scene here. The innovative culture is a real attraction to young innovative workers.”

With such a booming community of hipsters, Black said many major technology companies have chosen to create offices in Seattle, including Facebook and Google. She also said many of the young people in the city have also started their own companies.

Check out 10 of Worcester’s booming hipster businesses.

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Futon Company

Don’t let the name fool you, this place is much more than futons. The Highland Street shop definitely attracts young college kids looking for furniture, but once they enter the shop they find a hipster's dreamland. “I like people to be surprised by what they find here,” said owner Elizabeth Hughes. One walk through the shop will reveal furniture, clothing, art and many other hip odds and ends for sale – fulfilling Hughes’ goal of bringing shoppers the unexpected. The Futon Company is located at 129 Highland Street.

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Armsby Abbey

Featuring craft beers, all-natural spirits and locally grown, organic foods, Armsby Abbey is the go-to restaurant for the hipster set. “We try to connect people with the source of their food,” said owner Alec Lopez. When the restaurant opened in 2008, it sought to bring craft beers from around the world to Worcester. Lopez said they have been busting at the seams ever since. This fall, the restaurant will be expanding so it  can continue to serve up their organic, locally-grown dishes. “It’s about how we live,” Lopez said. Armsby Abbey is located at 144 Main Street.

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The Dive Bar

The Dive Bar has been a hot spot as far back as 20 years ago when it was a popular college bar and Lopez was a bartender. Lopez left, but bought the bar when he returned 10 years ago. He’s since stocked it with American craft brews and added classic cocktails to the menu. He also created a large beer garden behind the bar, giving his patrons a bit of nature just off of Green Street. “It’s sort of an embodiment of me,” Lopez said. “I love music and I love beer.” Lopez said he looks to bring in high quality bands when he can. The Dive Bar is located on 34 Green Street.

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Alexis Grace

Often called the best consignment shop in Worcester, Alexis Grace brings unique clothing with a vintage look to hipster shoppers. Owner Leah Long said she aims to carry fun clothes, like the ones she looks for when shopping. She also said the store tries to embody the eco-friendly spirit of her hipster customers by using recycled racks and shopping bags. Alexis Grace is located at 7 Harrison Street.

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Seed to Stem

“Connecting humans with their roots,” the motto of Seed to Stem, appeals to the hipster community as much as their terrariums, gift and other curiosities. “We’re trying to bring people back to nature, to make them happy with plants,” said Candace Atchue, the shop’s co-owner. Beyond terrariums, Seed to Stem offers a variety of gifts and art all revolving around a nature theme. Seed to Stem is located at 174 Shrewsbury Street.

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Last year, Kristie McCaffrey tapped into the beauty aspect of Worcester’s hipster community when she opened Nkd Waxing, Lashes and Makeup. Nkd offers services and makeup advice. McCaffrey said their most-asked-for style is the “Zooey,” modeled after hipster icon Zooey Deshanel. Nkd also offers natural, vegan and gluten free makeup to their clients along with their own makeup line with hand-picked colors and formulas that are on trend. Nkd is located at 12 Portland Street.

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Blackstone Vignette

The other popular consignment shop on Harrison Street, Blackstone Vignette, brings a wide-range of consignment items to their hipster shoppers. After 25 years in resale stores in Worcester, owner Dorrie Maynard said she looks for products that are completely different from mainstream retail shops. “I look for vintage, unusual stuff,” Maynard said. She noted she offers everything “old school” that is beloved by the hipster community, even adding the sale of LP records to her shop. Blackstone Vignette is located at 19 Harrison Street.

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Architectural Garage

Architectural Garage, a self-proclaimed “pickers paradise,” is certainly the place to shop for any hipsters looking for eco-friendly home looks. Owner Jim Marcotte’s garage features a variety of flea market-type products and old home pieces. “We’ve been open a year and a half and, as people find us, they tell us that they are glad to see something like this in Worcester,” Marcotte said. Marcotte said his shop appeals to hipster homeowners who want to repurpose items and give their home some character. He said many crafters also hunt his shelves for the unique pieces he tries to offer. Architectural Garage is located at 5 Harrison Street.

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Dark World Galary

Dark World Gallery brings together tattoos and art into one hipster-friendly shop. Most of the time, hipsters flock to Dark World for their ink. But on the first Saturday night of every month, the hipster community gathers to check out the latest art display on the shop’s walls. Dark World has featured a variety of both local and international artists. Dark World Gallery is located at 179 Grafton Street.

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Acoustic Java

With live music, open mic nights, chess pick-up games, poetry readings and screen play performances, Acoustic Java is a hipsters paradise. Owner David Fullerton took over Acoustic Java in 2007, bringing with him his coffee roasting company Roastmeisters Coffee to the café. Fullerton said the “indie” vibe, appeals to students, teachers, artists and other locals alike. Acoustic Java is located on 932A Main Street.


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