A former longtime fixture of Newbury Street’s retail landscape, Matsu has returned to Boston after a nearly seven-year absence, with a new store at 76 Charles St.
Matsu, from the creative partnership of Dava and Masayuki Muramatsu, sells a curated selection of artisan-crafted products for the home imported exclusively for the store from Japan, Italy and France, including glassware, dinnerware, flatware, linens and incense; “fashion forward” items, largely imported from Paris, such as clothing, jewelry, scarves and bags; and gift items, like their own line of candles, which are made in the U.S., with packaging, design and distribution all handled in-house.
Asked what makes Matsu’s offerings unique among other boutiques on Charles Street and throughout Boston, Dava replied, “Probably our discerning taste and knowing what people need even before they now what they need.”
Dava and Masayuki previously operated a store on Newbury Street from 1980 to 2014, originally called Eastern Accent (which remains the name of their wholesale importing business) before being rechristened Matsu in 1985 in a nod to their surname.
Around 2018, they were hired to produce Thirteen Crosby, a 2,000 square-foot lifestyle store in NYC’s Soho neighborhood, and Dave said they had finished their production work there and got out of Manhattan by the “skin of their teeth” and returned to Massachusetts before the pandemic struck.
Back in the suburbs of Boston, Dava and Masayuki soon grew restless. They both knew they were too young to retire, she said, and “started to get itchy to do something again.”
Dava, who is also a jewelry designer, had hosted house parties regularly to sell her wares after Matsu closed and before they moved to New York. Now, with a surplus of jewelry to sell, she was having trouble convincing people to come to over to her place due to social-distancing and safety concerns.
And as the months wore on, Dava and Masayuki continued to do a lot more soul searching, she said, and “to focus on what really matters and how much it matters.”
“We knew we weren’t ready retire, but didn’t think [our next move] would be a store,” Dava said. “But this is something we’ve been doing now for all our lives so it’s in our DNA…and we just wanted to experience exercising that mussel in our brain again.”
In January, Dava began looking at retail locations in the Seaport and on Newbury Street, as well as in the South End and Back Bay, before she ventured onto Charles Street, which, she admits, was then unfamiliar terrain to her.
Charles Street “felt like Paris here in the city,” said Dava, and as “home to some of the last of free-standing boutiques the city, so it seemed like a really good opportunity for us to explore.”
Dava and Masayuki settled on a 400-square foot retail space, with 15-foot ceilings, at 76 Charles St., which had been home to Eugene Galleries since 1954, and was in woeful shape, she said, but they soon developed a great rapport with their landlord who agreed to allow them to “enhance” the space.
The storefront has since undergone a thorough transformation into a sleek boutique space, with an overhead loft where Dava will hold tarot and astrology readings, and save for hiring a painter and an electrician, Masayuki did the rest of the restoration work himself.
Matsu doesn’t have a website yet, nor do they plan on launching one any time too soon, said Dava, because not only would cataloging, as well as writing descriptions for and photographing, each sales item be an incredibly arduous task, but also because she thinks people are most craving the physical experience of shopping in a boutique or store.
“We thought it was great timing because people are sick of being online and being stuck in the homes,” Dava said of their decision to reopen Matsu at this time. “We wanted to give them the experience where they walk in the door and are completely transported to somewhere else, and you can’t do that online.”
And so far, it seems that her hunch is paying off.
“The reception we’ve gotten is beyond anything we ever imagined,” Dava said.
Matsu at 76 Charles St. is also planning an Opening Celebration for Friday, June 18, from 1 to 6:30 p.m., with an in-store tarot reading by appointment starting at 2:30 p.m.
For more information on Matsu, call the store at 617-982-6972 or e-mail Dava Muramatsu at [email protected]