Don't buy the regular-priced clothing; the manufacture quality is poor for the expense, and none of it is particularly seasonal or trendy, so if you really want it you can probably get it in the bargain basement in a couple of months. The basement is fine for quick party clothes and the rare pair of mittens. On the whole, though, this place always fills a little gritty and suspect. Go for clothes you don't plan to get too attached to.
Every time I go to Planet Aid, I feel like I luck out -- rather than the one skirt I thought I was looking for, I find two dresses, a silly hat, and a supercheap pair of pants instead. I think this means that they're a very good used clothing business, constantly turning over their inventory and getting in stuff that's actually appealing and wearable. They try to keep clothes stocked in all sizes and do a good job of maintaining order on the racks. *And* your money goes to a cause. Sweet all around.
This small store, a favorite Brookline business since its opening in 1977, supplies books for toddlers-teenagers with intelligence and a sense of social responsibility. Their 20,000 titles include foreign titles, nonfiction books, art books, and music and language tapes, as well as the requisite series' book and bedtime stories. The staff is well-trained and cares a lot about providing attenting service, and the atmosphere is very inviting. There are toys and stuffed animals floating around to keep kids amused, and there are regularly scheduled readings, singalongs, and other events. A great and needed store which is doing its part to communicate to children the crucial place of art in life and education.
It sure looks like there are a lot of books in there, but Barnes & Noble somehow, uncannily, always seems to be out of not only the title you're requesting, but the entire related area of inquiry. And basically, after dealing with too many booksellers who don't know where the poetry section is and cashiers who need to call their manager off his lunch break to help cancel an overring or accept a check, I've concluded that this place is just too poorly run to be trusted. I guess that sometimes you could luck out (they have the usual trade paperbacks, biographies of the month, etc.), but *why* shop here when you could patronize Booksmith, New England Mobile, or any other place that's better stocked, better staffed, and managed with love?
This place has the weirdest, cheapest, and oldest used books of any of the major suppliers in the area. I love how diverse the inventory is (huge sections in Americana and Pets the last time I was in), and the carts outside definitely reward careful perusal: I once found a rare early 19th-century mythological dictionary there, one copy of which belonged to Keats. It's not going to have everything you want, but it's great fun to browse around and sometimes you really luck out.
The Coop is a Barnes n' Noble in disguise, and the bookstore suffers all of the organization and maintenence problems that forced me out of B&N a few years ago: the shelves are difficult to navigate, the books are often poorly stocked (big holes on some shelves, over-stuffed in others), crowd control is a big problem, and the staff often seem inexperienced and bewildered. If all you're looking for is books, go to Harvard Book Store down the street. What I'll say for the Coop is, it's great if you need to kill two or more birds with one stone, being also a store for College textbooks, Harvard-insignia clothing, makeup, computer accessories, school supplies, and dorm room furnishings. So, while I wouldn't say that my shopping experiences there have ever been pleasant, it's definitely very functional and sometimes, sadly, indispensible.
Trident's book inventory strikes me as a little arcane, overly heavy on irreverent impulse-buys and books about occultism and things. However, it's solid in basic sections like Fiction and Travel and keep a very good magazine selection. The real reason I keep coming in, though, is it's the only bookstore (Borders doesn't count) where I can take any book, hang out at a table for a few hours, and eat a really big piece of pie and drink some kind of elaborate coffee drink. The staff always seems a little distracted, but I'm usually paying more attention to the food and the book than to them, anyway.
In addition to a thorough selection of important new releases and NYT Bestseller-type titles, Harvard Bookstore has a great selection of books in academic areas like literary criticism, classics, and political and social theory. (On the whole it's quite heavy on obscure University Press volumes, but that's part of it's duty as a bookstore serving a very intellectual neighborhood). It's also a good destination for used- or reduced-priced books: it has an extensive 'remainder' section where hardcovers awaiting their paperback issues are marked down, and a large bargain-books basement which is always getting new stuff in. I've found that as a book-lover and frequent book-buyer, it's *very* hard to stop in without picking up at least one new thing.
Legal Sea Food's status as the bar-setter for classic preparations of New England seafood favorites -- chowder, steamers, cod with bread crumbs -- has slipped in the last decade. But it's still a decent place for self-evident preparations of familiar foods, and for your out-of-town friends and their kids, it does the job of providing a 'quintessentially Boston' dining experience. The Chestnut Hill location has a pretty exciting interior design (a little tacky, but definitely unusual), and the staff is good at accommodating large and very large parties. I think of this as a solid 'occasion' restaurant when not all the people are familiar and when a lot of different tastes need to be accommodated.
Racking your brain for a good summer house-warming gift? Need some totchkes for a friend's nephew's college graduation? Want to get a token of admiration for that frugal, modest High School teacher with the random yen for frogs? Go to the Wild Goose Chase in Brookline, man, where all your cheese board/blown glass/meditation fountain/teapot set/wind-up sushi/plush frog/purty stemware needs should be satisfied. And not always for tons of money, either: for the quality of such fineries as artisinal pottery and glass vases, the prices can be quite reasonable.