Blackstones, one of Charles Street’s most beloved and longest-running stores, will celebrate 40 years in business on Saturday, September 24.
“There are some stores that last 40 years, but not many,” said Jennifer Hill, who with her husband Jim owns the store now at 40 Charles Street.
But the Blackstones are also in good company among a handful of other powerful Charles Street businesses as Jim quickly pointed out: “On Charles Street there are quite a few old family-owned stores such as Charles Street Supply, Gary Drug, DeLuca’s, and Linens on the Hill,” He said.
On July 3, 1982, five men opened the store at 46 Charles Street, which was originally known as Blackstone in Beacon Hill. He stocked “unique and special gifts” and home accents, and many of the products had “Boston style” to attract countless visitors to Charles Street Antique Row.
The Blackstones’ next chapter began on April 1, 1996, when Lynne Miller, who had previous years of retail experience at Brooks Brothers, took ownership of the store. While the business has largely remained the same, she modified its tagline to “Gifts for All Reasons and Seasons.”
Exactly 10 years later on April 1, 2006, the store’s current owners, Jennifer and Jim Hill, along with their former business partner, Mark Duffield, acquired the store.
“[We] “But we’ve brought our own brand of new products, creativity, and philanthropy into the area,” wrote Duffield, who retired in 2014.
Duffield added, “I think the defining moment was when we faced a recession, we expanded our client base and revenue outside of our state with our five-year mystery ornamentation program and the accompanying book, The Last Shepard and Tales of the Tenth Ornament. This has produced a reliable stream of income we can count on.” Every year despite bad economies and amassing thousands of Children’s Comprehensive Cancer Program and won numerous awards…local, regional and national including the Bacon Prize! And love the neighborhood.”
The Beacon Hill Civic Association awarded its 17th Annual Beacon Award to Jennifer Hill and Duffield on behalf of the Blackstones in May 2013 for making what was seen as a “sustainable and significant contribution to society”.
On April 1, 2010, Jennifer and Jim Hill opened a gourmet kitchen shop called KitchenWares by Blackstones at 215 Newbury St. The Hills even got permission from the owners of KitchenArts to adopt a similar brand name that pays homage to the former establishment. Besides celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Blackstones, 2022 also marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of Kitchen Arts on Newbury Street, according to Jennifer.
On April 1, 2020, Blackstone’s of Beacon Hill and KitchenWares merged under one roof on Charles Street, with the joint companies simply called Blackstones.
To this day, Blackstones customers are often pleasantly surprised to learn that KitchenWares is still up and running now on Charles Street.
“We bring people in all the time, and when they realize the store was on Newbury Street, they say, ‘Oh, you didn’t leave town — we found you,'” Jennifer said.
On September 1 of the same year, the Blackstones moved from 46 Charles Street to their current home at 40 Charles Street, which measures 1,400 square feet, more than twice the size of its old 550-square-foot storefront. The added space allowed Blackstones to increase its inventory to include the kitchen, home, and gifts.
“With the expanded store of 40 Charles, we were able to increase our assortment throughout the store,” Jim said. “There are things that we have not dealt with before because we did not have space. There is a lot going on here.”
Jim said the store is currently “loaded” with fall products, including fall decor and Halloween items.
To celebrate the Blackstones’ 40th anniversary this Saturday, graphics will be made throughout the day in the store, with “thousands of dollars in products for distribution,” said Jim, who added that the store will also give away gifts to customers with their purchases. .
“Another very special business for us is the Women’s Lunch Place on Newbury Street,” Jennifer said, “which is also their 40th anniversary, so as part of our all-day celebration during shopping hours, we’ll be donating 40 percent of proceeds to them.”
Duffield will also be on hand at 2 p.m. to sign “As I Recall: Wings of Remembrance,” his third book to feature illustrations by former Beacon Hill Mail company, Nancy O’Hearn, and cover art for Mark’s twin sister, Sharon Duffield. The book chronicles the true events of 2006 when Mark and Jennifer Hill took ownership of the Blackstones and how Mark wishes his late father was there to advise him during this difficult time.
But even before celebrating their 40th anniversary, the Blackstones are looking early to their next major event.
“The next big event we’re thinking about is Boston’s 400th birthday in 2030,” Jim said. “We hope that the entire street will become one of the most desirable tourist attractions in the city by then.”
For more information on Blackstones, visit blackstonesboston.com.