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Jacob Passy | A bit off

Real decisions 2012

Published: Thursday, November 8, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 8, 2012 08:11

Both welcome newcomers with open arms, both value their hardworking employees and both sell wallets with mustaches on them. This ain’t no presidential election — this is a real decision. Are you going to choose Magpie or Davis Squared?

These two stores, located more or less right across the street from each other on Highland Ave., are perfect places to buy a gift to commemorate this election cycle. Regardless of whether it’s celebratory or more of a drown−your−sorrows thing, these stores offer shoppers fun and cheerful tchotchkes that are sure to please.

Besides, who doesn’t need something playful after the serious past few months we have all had in this nation?

But the question remains: Where to shop? Let’s meet our first candidate, Magpie. This self−described “hipster craft store” sells goods made by local indie designers and artists. On the store’s website, you can find a list of the artisans Magpie partners with — a list that stretches for quite a while.

And when you enter Magpie, it’s unsurprising that there are so many people contributing to the store. Every nook and cranny of the rather intimate shop is filled with items to marvel at.

What’s so great about a store like Magpie is the individual feel of each item. As everything is handmade, each piece of merchandise feels like it has some story to tell. By far my favorite item in the shop is the line of soy candles, made in portions of old glass beer and wine bottles.

My only gripe with the store was that it definitely caters to a more female clientele. I don’t mean to say that this is a problem — it is just a bit disheartening to know I couldn’t fit into half of the clothes on sale.

That’s why I enjoy our next candidate, Davis Squared. This store prides itself on selling “modern gifts” to just about anyone. You’re as likely to find a toddler’s onesie with a mustache as you are a woman’s T−shirt with one.

The wide variety of products makes me especially happy. It’s a thrill seeing all of the products for men, notably fun bowties and wallets with different emblems on them — British flags, for example, and, of course, mustaches.

My favorite item here is the Tonic line of men’s body sprays, which is also featured on the products section of the store’s website. The scents are just the right mix for me — not too lumberjack−esque, but not very feminine either.

With Davis Squared’s wide variety, however, comes a less intimate feel than you’ll find in nearby Magpie. Rather than feeling like a cozy nest, Davis Squared feels more like a storage unit taken over by Somerville−grown hipsters. There’s lots of metal detailing and the store has a very open feel.

But this doesn’t by any means take away from the store’s fun. It just gives it a different vibe. I also sometimes miss the homemade feel that I get at Magpie — but, again, I love the wider selection of knickknacks.

At the end of the day, you don’t really need to choose. Like I said from the start, you’re mostly destined to find similar items between the two stores. I mean, seriously, can we take a minute to consider why these stores have such a love affair with upper−lip facial hair?

So I say forget about making these hard−earned decisions. Go to both, look at their platforms, see what they have to offer. Or, you know, just browse and find that item that’ll give you major satisfaction.



Jacob Passy is a senior majoring in international relations. He can be reached at

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