Just outside Porter Square, not far from the shopping center and Red Line station that bear its name, there’s a stretch of Mass. Ave. thickly settled with independently owned shops, each with a particular niche: Susanna for women’s clothing, Joie de Vivre for colorful, quirky gifts, Raspberry Beret for vintage finds, Abodeon for stylish housewares, Wardmaps for prints and MBTA-themed items.
“We’ve been here for 44 years, it’s not like we haven’t put in our time—our families think we’re nuts,” chuckles Irish Imports co-owner Virginia Greenblatt. “But really it’s just one of those things, the time has come.”
Greenblatt has overseen the shop—which, true to its name, exclusively sells goods imported from Ireland—with partner Michael Shields since 1973. The pair were working for another furniture store in the early ’70s when they read about an Irish furniture maker and started corresponding with him, and today, most of the handblown glass, sweaters, blankets and more in the store are stowed on tables and in drawers that he built.
“We made a lot of good friends,” she says, referring to the folks both here and in Ireland who made the shop what it was, and says she’s ready to take some time exploring all that Cambridge has to offer.
The ending is a little less happy for Nomad, which broke the news of its impending move last week with a newsletter in which owner Deb Colburn promised that the shop was “still thriving—just moving.”
“Unfortunately we are being priced out of our current space—the management company that owns the building is tripling the rent,” she explained to Scout in an email. “We are so hoping to find another space within Cambridge or the surrounding area and are currently on the hunt.” The shop has been selling hand-picked home goods, clothing, decor and more from around the world since 1990.
You still have a few more months left to shop; Greenblatt says Irish Imports will likely shutter by the middle of October, and Colburn says her store won’t move out until early next year (which gives you one last holiday season to get globally minded gifts from Nomad).
And if you have a lead on a space for the Nomad team? Colburn is happy to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org.