Uncovering the Streetwear Haven Disguised as a Grocery Store

Cars went careering down Massachusetts Ave. as pedestrians crossed the bridge over the Mass. Turnpike. Among the chaos, I stopped to look down at my phone, making sure I was following the route I’d set on Google Maps.

I strolled past a group of Berklee students sporting graphic tees and patent leather boots, smoking cigarettes. It was a far cry from the preppy Boston College crowd I’d become accustomed to seeing.

Moments later, my phone began vibrating in my pocket, letting know me I had finally reached my destination. But instead of seeing the trendy clothing store that I had expected, I was standing in between a run down costume shop and a pizza joint. Of course, I blamed Google Maps for its flawed GPS system that had got me lost in this strange part of town.

After many searches and frantic pacing up and down the sidewalk, I eventually turned into a narrow side street, coming across a dilapidated corner store. Bottles of laundry detergent, canned food, and bundles of paper towels sat neatly arranged up against the window. A young bearded man emerged from inside the store, wearing ripped jeans and an oversized sweater. Then it clicked. I had found my destination: Bodega, the streetwear retailer disguised as a convenience store.

Bodega’s storefront retains its grocery store theme, with stacks of old cereal boxes and home improvement tools hanging on the walls. The focal point of the grimy, cluttered space was a glimmering vintage Snapple vending machine that I immediately approached.

The vending machine automatically slid open, exposing the sleek hardwood floors and high ceilings of the clothing store. Polished wooden shelves were lined with flashy sneakers in unique colorways, so captivating that it would tempt even the most conservatively dressed person. The sneakers sold in Bodega are unlike those that you would find in Nike, Adidas, or even a Footlocker for that matter. They are mostly limited editon, and only sold in specialty consignment stores.

Dozens of printed t-shirts, windbreakers, and hoodies dangled from clothing racks as eager customers shuffled through the garments in search for their size. While the brands inside Bodega may not be household names, in the world of streetwear, these brands have become more sought after than many designer labels.  

With nothing in Bodega really under $100, these highly prized items come at a price. Bodega’s upscale clientele, however, wouldn’t hesitate to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars on coveted apparel.

Since my first visit to Bodega, I’ve been back multiple times, but have never left with a shopping bag in hand. Visiting the store has become more of an experience than an excuse to go shopping. It reminds me of those speakeasy bars that emulate the underground establishments of the prohibition era. But unlike a bar, you don’t have to be 21 to experience the hidden marvel that is Bodega.

Featured Image by William Batchelor / Heights Editor