Comebacks aren’t limited to the race this year. The stores along the final block of the Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston are looking forward to brisk business in the next few days and on Marathon Monday. After the attacks, the stores were shuttered for a week and a half, as law enforcement declared the area a crime scene. Being closed meant the stores took a hit in their sales. In the year since, many of the shops have come back and seen sales rebound.
The block of Boylston Street between and Exeter and Dartmouth Streets sees the Boston Public Library along the full length of one side. The shops across the street have each tried to spring back in time for this year’s Marathon.
Marathon Sports, which caters to runners, is likely the best known of the businesses directly impacted by the bombings. The first blast went off right outside its doors, shattering the glass storefront window. Employees immediately took to the street, setting up a makeshift triage space. Many of the best-known images from that day, including the ones that showed victims in agony amid the blood on the sidewalk, were taken outside Marathon Sports.
Dana Jameson was working at Marathon Sports when the explosions happened. The store could have been permanently destroyed. Instead, the assistant manager says, business has gone up.
“Since last year, people are figuring out who were are and want to find out more,” Jameson said. “All we focus on is running. We’re a running store and we’re really tight-knit with the running community.”
Jameson says people do come into the store asking about the bombing. That gets a little tiring, she admits, but adds, “It’s more important to focus on the future and how we’re going to make things different this year.”
A candy store with a huge variety of treats, Sugar Heaven sits practically even with the finish line. In the wake of the bombings, Sugar Heaven needed to dispose of $20,000 of melted chocolate and faced thousands of dollars more in cleanup costs.
Today, things are much sweeter. The store is seeing steady business.
“We’re doing pretty OK,” said Isabel Atkinson, an employee at Sugar Heaven. Atkinson lives just around the corner on Newbury Street. She grew up in England and is impressed with how Boston rebounded: “My anxious feelings… were put at ease by the wonderful people of Boston.”
At the corner of Exeter and Boylston is another shop selling sweets – this one catering to the chocolate connoisseur. Lindt, the high-end chocolate shop, is inside the Lenox Hotel and has a door that faces Boylston Street. During the area shutdown, Lindt was closed to the public. In an email interview conducted for this article, Christine Bullen, a vice president at Lindt, wrote the store did cater to one special group while “officially” being closed.
“Although our retail store was closed following the events, like many others in the area, we opened our doors to first responders and others working on the scene,” wrote Bullen.
Although the store doesn’t disclose its sales numbers, Bullen says things have been going well. “Our business remains vibrant,” Bullen wrote in her email. “We’re looking forward to supporting this year’s runners as they approach the finish line and those visiting the city throughout the weekend.”
AT&T’s small store is primarily for customers seeking new cellphones and accessories. But the company has a big role in the Marathon.
“There’s a real sense of community bringing all of us together as we approach Marathon Monday,” AT&T Spokesperson Kate MacKinnon wrote in an email interview conducted for this article. “The race has always been special to us, particularly to our employees on Boylston Street.”
While she declined to comment on sales numbers, MacKinnon wrote that AT&T is undertaking a number of efforts this year to expand its presence at the finish line. AT&T has reactivated a text-to-donate line, allowing people to donate $10 automatically to the One Boston Fund by texting “BOSTON” to 80108.
MacKinnon also notes that the company is bringing a service back that proved essential in 2013. “We’ve got five free calling stations for finishers who want to find their loved ones and tell them about their race. These were invaluable last year.”
Gerardo Defabritiis says he would rather his store, The Tannery, didn’t have the PR that came with the explosions. But the Italy native says sales have indeed rebounded. Defabritiis is a manager at The Tannery. Right after the explosion, he and his staff took people in, tended to them, and escorted them out the back door to safety.
“Business has been very good,” said Defabritiis. “We’ve seen an increase in business. Whatever the reasons (are) we don’t know exactly, but we have grown. I think you could not ask for a better response.”
“Tragedies have their place in life,” adds Defabritiis. “They can make people better, and that’s what happened to Boston.”