The perfect shop. Once in a great while you find one -- shelves of earthly delights that leave you open-mouthed and covetous. Back-street boutiques that awe and delight, more like museums than stores. Whether purveyors of Swedish antiques or African tableware, they are the nonconformists in a shopping mall world, all the more thrilling when the prices are as enticing as the goods. The only quandary remains what to buy, and for whom. But that's the easy part.
The hard part is knowing where to look for these individualistic shops. So often they emerge and vanish, blossom and wither, or get subsumed by a competitor, only to mutate beyond recognition.
Foreign cities seem to hold out a greater promise of hidden treasure, perhaps because they are a destination in themselves. I have happened upon wonderful boutiques in Paris, Prague, and Tel Aviv.
Then again, there are scores of them right here in New England, if you know where to look.
The following are a few examples. What their life spans will be, no one can say. To be safe, strike while the iron is hot. So often the memory of these inspired stores lingers long after they have vanished.