Visiting Bahston, MA (Or, How Amy Takes Her Job a Little Too Seriously Sometimes)

Visiting Bahston, MA (Or, How Amy Takes Her Job a Little Too Seriously Sometimes)

Posted by Joseph Linscott on

Do you ever have people come up to you in gift shops and bookstores and ask you about cards and other such merchandise because they think you work there? No? Only Amy? Yeah, that makes sense.

We drove down to Boston (again) last week so I could get my fill of some more dim sum at Hei La Moon. See, we were still getting the lay of the land the first two times, and my brain wouldn’t let me try any other restaurant until we had a solid, we-know-what-we’re-doing eating experience… Which really just means that we ate too many shumai and too much sticky rice and too much steamed pork — and definitely too much of Amy’s all-time favorite, egg custard tarts. Worth it.



Dim sum wasn’t the only reason we went down, though — the real reason for our trip was to visit some new stockists in person. We actually have several in the Boston area, and were hoping to hit up more of them — but we also had to work around Raffy’s daycare pickup times. In the end, we were able to visit (and shop at) I AM Books and Porter Square Books this time around. 


We also made a pit stop at Faneuil Hall on our walk from dim sum to the North End, and let me just say — putting a shopping center and a food hall into historic buildings sounds like a great thing. And it is… to look at. However, the day after the Boston Marathon while schools are on break is perhaps not the best time to visit a popular, enclosed space. Nothing makes Amy (and I) crankier than being surrounded by youths and slow walkers.



So, how do Amy and I relieve ourselves of this crankiness? Like everyone else with a retail therapy problem: by buying books and other essentials*. So we hustled on out of Faneuil and over to Boston’s Italian District to visit one of our new bookstore customers: I AM Books, an Italian American bookstore full to the brim with books about Italy, about Italians, and even a section in Italian. Like, they had an entire display dedicated to Antonio Gramsci, bringing me right back to my English literature courses chock full of theoreticians and philosophers. None of this made Amy want to refresh her Italian so we can plan a trip to Italy in the near future… Nope. Not at all.

*We bought ourselves a fun diagram print of Dante’s circles of hell and something that obviously pairs well with said print: a coffee mug that reads “I’m nothing before my coffee” with a cute illustration of Peanuts’ Snoopy and Woodstock. And don’t worry, Amy also bought herself another puzzle at the gift shop next door.



Anyways, after a walk back to Chinatown to grab our car (and help digest more of the dim sum we ate earlier), we drove up to Cambridge and stopped into Porter Square Books to get — you guessed it — more books. Of note from this stop: they have a great cafe inside the store that serves delicious specialty drinks like a blood orange and hibiscus tea, ginger limeade, and some of the best iced coffee we’ve had on the east coast; we also managed to snag Hanif Abduraqib’s and Becca Rothfield’s newest books; and finally, Amy was confused for an employee at the store.

How, you might ask, did Amy get confused for an employee? Well, if you follow us on Instagram, then you’re familiar with the nicely composed, aesthetically pleasing photos that Amy shares of the stores we visit and talk about on this blog. What you don’t see are the fifteen minutes of test shots and light-chasing and meticulous angling and that it takes to get those pictures. You also don’t get to see Amy spend several minutes scouring our stores’ card walls and sticker displays until she finds all of our products — and we can’t forget how we like to count through the product so we can have a sense of how well they’re selling. And then, after all that, she neatly straightens up the shelves and lines up our card stacks because 1) it makes for a nicer photo, and 2) merchandising!



A note from Amy: I would like to point out that I am not, in fact, the only one who straightens up our product in stores — as evidenced by this photo of Joe in one of our fave west coast stockists, Perenn, last year (above right).

Anyways. If you aren’t Amy’s husband — standing there with your five books that you’ve already picked out before finding out that there is a bargain bin in the back of the store that will add another two books to your pile — it’s hard not to read Amy’s activities as that of an employee restocking products in the store that she works at. 

So, here’s what happens. Amy looks like an employee. She will then be approached for help finding the perfect card to send to someone who is retiring, but doesn’t want to be retiring, and they’re a good enough acquaintance to give a card to, but we can’t go so far as to call ourselves friends... And then Amy will suggest a few cards from the shelves, including Thinking of You  not because it’s one of her cards, but because it genuinely feels like as good of a fit as you can find for such a specific situation. When Amy tells this customer that she actually created Thinking of You, and other cards on the shelves like Better Late Than Never and Sorry I Focaccia Birthday, the customer will go, “Oh, those are nice.” And then he will choose a different card, and Amy totally won’t have her feelings hurt a tiny bit.

Another way of putting all of this: Amy and I like to visit our stores, accidentally look like employees, and then hock our cards to unsuspecting customers. But not on purpose! And only if they ask. 

I promise we didn’t drive all the way to Boston just to try and sell a few extra cards at our stores. I also promise I didn’t intend on spending hundreds of dollars on books and eating too much at dim sum (again). Sometimes things just happen.

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