It has a checkout counter, a produce stand, bodega racks and even a pair of fully functional coin-operated kiddie rides.
But you won’t find groceries at Barry’s Shop, the pop-up store taking shape in a Harvard-owned building near Barry’s Corner on Western Avenue in Allston this week. Instead, art made by dozens of local artists will line the shelves.
“We wanted to do a community engagement project that was around making art accessible and kind of mimicking the experience of going into a grocery store and looking at products,” said Emily Isenberg, of the marketing firm Isenberg Projects, which is leading the effort focusing on an area they’re calling Zone 3.
Art galleries can be stuffy, she said. A mock neighborhood store isn’t.
In the produce-like section, rows of T-shirts, paintings, books, ‘zines, crafts, buttons and other goodies will be arranged next to plastic fruits and vegetables. All of it is for sale.
On a giant pyramid of corrugated produce boxes sit hand-painted vintage radios. All of them were sourced from eBay, then curators asked artists to customize them for a project called “I’m in Love with the Radio on.” It’s a nod to Allston’s history in radio broadcasting, Isenberg said.
Screen prints hang from hangers on a clothes rack. There’s a table in one corner made out of a few dozen empty milk jugs.
In another corner, there’s a converted “Fun Coop” toy-vending machine filled with little plastic pods, which they plan to stuff with little pieces of original artwork. You put a quarter in and one pops out the bottom. It makes a clucking sound.
To complete the grocery store vibe: a pair of shopping carts painted blue, and one of those big wire cages filled with rubber balls.
“We wanted an element of playfulness to the entire experience,” said Doscher Hobler, a producer with Isenberg Projects.
They also plan to host events, art classes and weekly “Drink and Draw” sessions. Those who participate will have the option of leaving their creations in the gallery and putting them up for sale.
All of this is happening at 267 Western Ave., which hosted theEat Boutique gift pop-upover the 2015 holiday season, and has also been a venue for yoga classes.
Isenberg’s mission isn’t just to bring fun things to an empty building. The goal, she said, is to spread the word about the potential of the sleepy industrial corridor lined with auto body shops, and inject some of the offbeat Allston character into a swath of the city that is about to transition into campus-adjacent territory.
Harvard has been buying properties rapidly on the street over the past few years as it expands its footprint in the neighborhood. Anddevelopers are starting to swarm.
“There’s a lot of change that’s about to happen, and I think that the idea is there’s ways to preserve some of what I think the spirit of Allston is,” Isenberg said, adding, “At the end of the day, we’re tasked with doing experience campaigns. We light the fuses and see what happens.”
Across the street, Jack Clifford has watched with curiosity all the activity in the building, which a decade-and-a-half ago housed a dry cleaner.
Standing behind the bar at The Bus Stop Pub while catering to the dozen or so men there for a liquid lunch, he said he’s optimistic about all the buzz coming out of the Harvard projects lately.
“It’s fabulous,” said Clifford, who has worked at the pub for 36 years. “It’s been like a desolated area for the last 10 years since Harvard bought all the buildings and they’ve all been empty. At nighttime and even in the daytime there’s nobody here. There’s no such thing as walking traffic. It’s just a dead area.
“The next five years are gonna be total changes here,” he said.
Barry’s Shop officially opens on Friday witha party featuring craft cocktails and a food truck.