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More Upscale Shops Finding Home Away From Home
THE PATRIOT LEDGER · SATURDAY/SUNDAY, August 17-18, 2002 By KELLY FIELD
QUINCY – An oriental rug store is relocating from Park Square in Boston to Quincy’s Wollaston neighborhood, a move some people believe reflects growing pockets of affluence among some of the city’s newest and oldest residents.
Solomon’s Collection and Fine Rugs will sell hand-made oriental rugs from India, Pakistan, Iran, and Nepal when it opens this fall. Catering to a mostly wealthy clientele with the money to purchase rugs that cost several thousand dollars, the store in Quincy a decade ago would seem improbable.
But Solomon’s is not the only upscale shop to relocate to Quincy.
Lisa Lamme moved her popular Gypsy Kitchen gourmet sauce shop from the Quincy Market in Boston to Quincy Center last year in belief that the city is ripe for more expensive merchandising.
Lamme reports her shop has done well since it opened in the Munroe Building in Quincy Center. She now plans to expand by adding a selection of fine wines and cheeses to her shelves.
“I think Quincy is just going to go out-of-sight crazy in terms of businesses,” Lamme said.
Maralin Manning, executive director of the Quincy Center Business and Professional Association, said the typical Quincy shopper is changing.
“I don’t think Quincy is a blue-collar community anymore,” Maralin Manning said. “There is a much higher level of professional people living here.”
In 1999, 5,319 households – or nearly 14 percent of those in the city – had a combined income of more than $100,000, according to the U.S. Census. That’s up 9 percentage points from 1989, when that figure represented just 5 percent of the city’s population.
Ward 5 Councilor Douglas Gutro said evidence of Quincy’s economic influence could be seen in its booming real estate market.
In 1997, the median home price in Quincy was $147,000, according to Banker & Tradesman. By 2001, that figure had jumped to $242,000. During that same period, the median condo price went fro $87,000 to more than double that, $178,000.
“People are spending significantly more money today than they did 10 years ago for homes in Quincy,” Gutro said. “I suspect the owner (of the Oriental rug store) did his homework in determining whether there was a market in Quincy.” Solomon’s Oriental rug store is locating in Gutro’s council district.
Manning said another demographic factor that is fueling the trend toward more upscale merchandising is the growing number of residents whose children have moved from the family home.
They are selling the houses and moving into luxury apartments or condos.
While these couples are reducing their living space, they are upgrading their amenities, spending a lot more on pricey home furnishings, Manning said.
“They are putting more money into less space,” Manning said. “I’m sure people are spending more (on appliances) as well.”
The last few years have seen a significant growth in the number of large apartment complexes in Quincy, as upscale communities such as Chapman’s Reach in West Quincy have opened, and others such as Highpoint and the Residences at Munroe Place are under construction.
Construction is complete on the Highlands at Faxon Woods, a complex for those 55 and older.
“Quincy now has more apartments than it has ever had,” Manning said.
Rug store owner Solomon Mojtabai, a former vascular surgeon “close to 60,” whose grandfather ran a small rug shop in Iran, said he is moving his shop from Stuart Street in Boston to 809 Hancock St., in large part because the Quincy location is more accessible.
He estimates that 70 percent of his customers live locally, and 30 percent are from throughout the country, drawn to the shop by word-of-mouth or by its website, www.solomonrugs.com.
His local customers come from Marina Bay, Cohasset, Hingham, Norwell, Marblehead, Lexington, Wellesley, Natick, and Milton, he said. He said he expects his new customers will come from Quincy and its surrounding communities.
The rug store is now under construction at the former location of Kitchen Xpress on Hancock Street. It’s the same location where Bill Shea’s Formica store operated for decades.