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Grand Time to Be Had at Boston’s New Design Mecca

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What do you get when you put three design-minded Bostonians into an 118-year-old former movie theater that is also now home to an environmental design studio and an architectural firm? Something grand — more specifically, a store called Grand nestled in Somerville’s historic Union Square neighborhood. Opened in January by Jonathan O’Toole (CEO and operations manager), Wendy Friedman (chief merchandiser), and Adam Larson (creative director), Grand brings to the Boston area a unique combination of art, commerce, and style. The founding trio, who met while working at Rykodisc, share a love for discovering contemporary home furnishings, apparel, and gifts by independent designers, and they happen to work well as a retail team. “Wendy is a master when it comes to finding new, cool, and unique products,” O’Toole tells us. “Adam has an eye for design that is simply amazing. Plus, at the end of the day we’re all good friends. We know each others like, dislikes, and generally trust each other to make good choices and decisions.”

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Designed by Larson, the store’s look falls on a continuum spanning art gallery and cabinet of curiousities, with walls enlivened by two massive vinyl installations of a horse and the surface of the moon. As for what’s moving most quickly off of Grand’s mod shelves, SuckUK’s SunJar (the solar-powered LED light in a Mason jar, originally designed by Tobias Wong) is the current top seller, O’Toole says, “closely followed by these cool screen-printed posters of Boston designed by Ork Posters” and clothing by such lines as Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and FluffyCo, the maker of O’Toole’s favorite birds of prey-printed hoodie. Next up for the store is online shopping capabilities, new furniture and lighting pieces, and continued collaboration with clothing lines that O’Toole describes as “unique to the Boston market.” Grand is also gearing up for its first ever sale, this Friday and Saturday, and O’Toole promises plentiful savings and Harpoon Ale to UnBeige readers who stop by this Friday night. After a few drinks, you won’t be able to resist taking home a discounted litter of Harry Allen piglets.

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