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The Boston Globe

Union dispute bubbles up at Harvard Book Store

The labor dispute comes just two months after management canceled the planned second location in the Prudential Center.

Unionized staff at the Harvard Book Store have filed an unfair labor charge against the owners of the Cambridge institutionand launched a public campaign for higher pay, just two months after the business scrapped plans for a second location in the Prudential Center.

It’s the latest in a growing wave of union activism at colleges, coffee shops, and other small businesses around Greater Boston as workers push for higher pay and protections after the pandemic.

The roughly 30 workers at the store — which sits across the street from Harvard’s brick-walled Yard, but is not affiliated with the university — allege that management, and Book Store owner John Henry, have refused to bargain with them in good faith and disclose financial information about spending on the store’s abandoned Back Bay expansion. (Henry also owns The Boston Globe.)

In an e-mail to the Globe, part-owner Jeff Mayersohn disputes those claims, saying the workers are paid well above industry standards — indeed nearly all the store’s gross profits are spent on pay — and that the company has shared all documents it has with the union. The scuttled Back Bay store, he said, was being funded separately and had no impact on worker pay.

The National Labor Relations Board has not yet assessed the complaint, which a fairly common tactic used by unions in labor disputes.

Three Book Store employees told the Globe that management in recent bargaining sessions declined to institute raises for union workers — all of whom make below $20 an hour — beyond annual cost-of-living raises in their contract. They requested a $22.50 hourly wage floor, and were denied. (Minimum wage in Massachusetts is $15 an hour.)

“We have asked how HBS could afford two years of rent on an empty 29,000 square foot retail space, but cannot afford to pay us a living wage,” the Harvard Book Store Union wrote in an ongoing petition. “We are still waiting for answers. We are still waiting for a living wage.”

In an e-mail Thursday, Mayersohn added that the Book Store is suffering “operating losses” as-is, which are “entirely subsidized by ownership.” Workers negotiated a new contract in 2022 which included annual 50-cent-per-hour raises, and currently earn “50 percent more than the industry benchmark (as a percentage of store revenue).”

“Most other bookstores would be forced to close their doors at this point,” he wrote, noting that the store already shared available financial information with the union.

The Pru location, Mayersohn wrote, was an effort to balance the books, to leverage the business’ existing infrastructure to bring in more sales and reduce losses. He and Henry said in February that they were not opening the Prudential location because of “considerable” economic challenges after the pandemic.

“It was an attempt to make the business sustainable,” he wrote. “Once we realized that this particular project was not going to accomplish this goal, we canceled it.”

Henry first bought into the Harvard Book Store in December 2021. His arrival was soon followed by the living wage campaign, the Book Store union’s first public effort since it launched and affiliated with the United Auto Workers in 1993.

Rachel Schneck, an 11-year employee at the Book Store, saidshe and many other workers there believed the Prudential location would usher in higher wages and improved conditions for employees — the fulfillment of the Henrys’ promise to support and invest in the Book Store after several financially challenging years.

They said that they began hiring for jobs, expanding web services, and planning the design of the upcoming Pru storefront for over a year, while maintaining operations at the Massachusetts Avenue location. In the meantime, the size of the staff shrunk considerably and wages increased only slightly.

“The Book Store is a cultural center, an icon of Boston and Cambridge,” Schneck said. “The people who run it want to stay and build their careers, and the store suffers when we can’t maintain that level of staffing and expertise.”

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The Harvard Crimson

Harvard Innovation Labs Co-Founder Jodi Goldstein To Serve as Coop CEO

Harvard Innovation Labs Co-Founder Jodi Goldstein will serve as the next chief executive officer of the Harvard Cooperative Society, a joint MIT-Harvard clothing and gift store, the organization announced on Monday.

Goldstein will succeed Jerry Murphy ’73, who has led the Coop since 1991 and is set to step down from the top post on September 1.

Goldstein said in a Monday press release that she was excited to “drive the growth and transformation of this historic institution.”

“I am thrilled and honored to be stepping into the role of CEO at the Harvard Cooperative Society,” Goldstein said. “I look forward to working with the Coop’s talented team, engaging with our members, and serving the Harvard and MIT communities.”

According to the press release, Goldstein aims to “enhance member services, expand student engagement, refresh the Coop’s digital presence, and further activate the Coop’s real estate presence” as CEO.

Goldstein — who co-founded the Harvard Innovation Labs in 2011 — led the center for nearly one decade before stepping down in 2020 to assume advisory roles for several startup incubators, including TechStars, a technology-focused accelerator. Since 2018, Goldstein has also served as a member of the University of Vermont Board of Trustees.

In the press release, Murphy said he was “proud” of what he had accomplished in his time as CEO.

“I have truly enjoyed working with fantastic colleagues and students along the way,” Murphy said. “I am confident that Jodi’s leadership will propel the Coop to new heights, and I look forward to witnessing its continued success.”

Over his three-decade tenure at the Coop, Murphy oversaw several major projects, including the Coop’s famous 1996 renovation to install a spiral staircase in its main Harvard Square property. Murphy was also responsible for introducing the Coop’s website and further expanding the store into Cambridge and Boston.

Goldstein said in the press release that she was “deeply grateful” to Murphy for “his outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the Coop and its members.”

John P. Reardon Jr. — the chair of the Coop’s Board of Directors — also praised Murphy’s leadership and said Goldstein was the right pick to carry the Coop forward.

“Jerry has been a fantastic CEO for over 30 years and has made his mark on the Coop, leaving it in an excellent position,” Reardon said in the press release. “He leaves large shoes to fill, but Jodi’s strategic vision and innovative mindset make her the ideal leader for the next chapter.”

“We are thrilled to welcome her aboard, and we are forever grateful to Jerry,” he added.

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Harvard Magazine

Harvard Coop’s Changing of the Guard

New leadership for a staple Square retailer

THE HARVARD COOP announced today that CEO Jerry Murphy ’73, M.B.A. ’77, will retire on September 1, concluding a Harvard Square career that began when he joined the historic retailer in 1991 after earlier experience at Neiman Marcus. He will be succeeded by Jodi Goldstein, M.B.A. ’96, who was a founder of the Harvard Innovation Labs in 2011 and served as managing director from 2015 to 2020; she has since been strategic adviser and executive in residence at the i-Lab.

Murphy has overseen the Coop’s transition from department store to hybrid academic and community bookstore (in partnership with the Barnes and Noble college division), and the shift from a member rebate to member discounts—an important adaptation to online retailing competition. The Coop was renovated extensively during his tenure as CEO, most significantly in 1996-1997 when it installed the Harvard-themed interior and spiral staircase visitors see today, and again during the pandemic, when it consolidated operations formerly in the Palmer Street annexThe café, introduced in the earlier renovation, was eliminated during the more recent configuration. Those renovations both updated the selling facility and responded to changing markets for both student textbooks (increasingly delivered online) and trade books.

Murphy also remained engaged with the community through his mentorship of Harvard and MIT students, hundreds of whom served on the Coop board of directors. Many have gone on to business careers. In a statement in the announcement, Murphy said, “It has been an honor to serve as CEO of the Harvard Cooperative Society these last 30+ years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and I have truly enjoyed working with fantastic colleagues and students along the way. I am confident that Jodi’s leadership will propel the Coop to new heights, and I look forward to witnessing its continued success.”

According to the announcement, Goldstein “aims to enhance member services, expand student engagement, refresh the Coop’s digital presence, and further activate the Coop’s real estate presence”—the latter perhaps referring to repurposing the owned Palmer Street facility. In a statement, she said, “I am thrilled and honored to be stepping into the role of CEO at the Harvard Cooperative Society. I am deeply grateful to Jerry Murphy for his outstanding leadership and dedicated service to the Coop and its members. I am excited to build on his legacy and continue to drive the growth and transformation of this historic institution. I look forward to working with the Coop’s talented team, engaging with our members, and serving the Harvard and MIT communities.”

John P. Reardon Jr., former Harvard Alumni Association (HAA) executive director, chair of the Coop’s board, said, “Jerry has been a fantastic CEO for over 30 years and has made his mark on the Coop, leaving it in an excellent position. He leaves large shoes to fill, but Jodi’s strategic vision and innovative mindset make her the ideal leader for the next chapter. We are thrilled to welcome her aboard, and we are forever grateful to Jerry.”

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Boston Business Journal

Coop in Harvard Square to get a new leader after 30-plus years

The Coop, a Harvard Square institution, is undergoing a leadership change. Jerry Murphy, left, is retiring after leading the store as CEO since 1991. He’ll be succeeded by Jodi Goldstein starting Sept. 1.

The official campus bookstore for Harvard and MIT will undergo its first leadership change in more than three decades in September.

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WBZ

Food, Street Performers, And More At 39th Annual Harvard Square Mayfair

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — It was not your typical Cinco de Mayo celebration, but Colin knew his routine would make a lasting impression.

“Please, God, let me get this,” Colin warbled as he prepared to juggle, play the bagpipes, and balance on a 20-foot unicycle all at once. He nailed the performance and shouted, “Goodnight, everybody!” to the applause of the crowd.

Read More: Graduating Northeastern Students Reflect On College Experience

Colin was one of several street performers entertaining audiences at the 39th annual Mayfair in Harvard Square Sunday.

Throngs of people milled through streets closed to vehicular traffic, sampling food and drink from local restaurants, browsing wares of arts and crafts sellers, or taking in one of the many music and dance concerts happening around the square.

Despite having the attention of thousands up for grabs, street performer Cate told WBZ NewsRadio the competitive spirit around the fair was friendly, not fierce.

“Colin and I have known each other for over a decade,” Cate said. “We’re friends, we usually share or we’ll trade off.”

The good mood was shared by vendors pleased with Sunday’s sales.

“It’s great,” said Brian Ruhlmann, founder of Craic Sauce, a craft hot sauce company based out of Lowell. “We always just get people stumbling by that have never heard of us and are intrigued to try, but then we also get a lot of visitors that found us here and are excited to try the new flavors.”

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Broadway World

HAPPINESS FANTASY Installation Comes To Harvard Square

The exhibit will be on display from May 8th – 31st from 8am – 11pm daily.

The Harvard Square Business Association and Gazit Horizons are pleased to announce the first installation at the (snobby) institute located at 1420 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square. The exhibit, “Happiness Fantasy” will be on display from May 8th – 31st from 8am – 11pm daily. The opening reception will be held on May 8th at 7pm.

“Happiness Fantasy”, curated by Harvard Graduate School of Design students, Pin Sangkaeo and Benson Joseph, is an exploration of architecture and collective identity through the lens of moment-making. Pin + Benson commented “This exhibit delves into the interplay between architecture and sociotechnical imaginaries—visions of desirable futures crafted by shared social understandings.  Designed as a hyper-designed object that aims to control and predict environments, it utilizes modern technologies for interaction and collaboration, while challenging the notions of individual and collective existence. The project examines how these nodes of concentration serve to maintain economic, cultural, and political influence, proposing that the pursuit of utopian visions inherently carries dystopian elements by reinforcing singular sociotechnical imaginaries. Through a blend of participatory and non-participatory observations, the exhibited works explore the creation of utopias and dystopias encapsulated in the metaphorical ‘temple’ and ‘garden’.”

This exhibition features a diverse array of media, from meticulously detailed drawings, videos, and sculptural works, each piece weaving together narratives of urban dynamics, historical monuments, and the ever-evolving notion of “collective self” within the cityscape. These pieces represent (snobs._)’s collaboration series with various partners across Harvard and beyond.

Opening Reception

May 8th, 7pm

An evening of engaging discussions and an opportunity to view the essential role of design and architecture. Refreshments will be served, and you will have the chance to meet the minds behind the work.

RSVP    

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Boston Restaurant Talk

Chip City to Open in Cambridge’s Harvard Square

A cookie chain that is based in New York City is expanding further into the Greater Boston area, with a new location on its way to Cambridge.

According to an article in The Harvard Crimson, Chip City is planning to open in Harvard Square, joining three others locally in Boston’s West End and Back Bay along with Arsenal Yards in Watertown. It looks like the new outlet will open in July, and based on the other locations, expect to see a rotating list of cookie options, including chocolate chip, cookies and cream, cannoli, dark chocolate peanut butter, confetti, and more.

Chip City got its start in Queens back in 2017.

The address for the upcoming location of Chip City in Harvard Square is 1 Brattle Square, Cambridge, MA, 02138. The website for the company can be found at https://order.chipcitycookies.com/

Thanks to Adam of Universal Hub for bringing this to our attention.

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The Harvard Crimson

One Reason Garden Bar Prepares to Mix Back In to Harvard Square

One Reason Garden Bar will be returning to the Charles Hotel on May 5, marking the bar’s second year in business after it first opened in July 2023.

New this year is the bar’s partnership with Taqueria El Barrio, which currently operates out of Time Out Market in Boston and Portico Brewing in Somerville.

The new partnership will bring pollo, birria, carnitas, and veggie tacos to the bar’s menu, all of which will be served on the taqueria’s hand-made tortillas. The restaurant’s “Torta del Dia” sandwich, as well as chips, dips, and seasoned watermelon will accompany the selection of tacos.

One Reason Garden Bar’s drinks menu will consist primarily of natural wines and local beers, according to general manager Augusto Barbosa Lino. The establishment will also offer a whiskey smash as well as a lineup of frozen drinks on a rotating basis.

The bar itself is built in the style of Cape Cod houses, with its cedar shake siding, white trim, and shingled roof.

“It’s basically a small Cape house, made by Cape builders,” Barbosa Lino said.

Accompanying the bar will be picnic tables, lawn games, and a garden, which provided inspiration for the name.

The name is also a nod to Tracy Chapman’s hit song “Give Me One Reason.”

“She was busking in Harvard Square early in her career, and Harvard Square has a tradition of music in almost a nostalgic way,” Barbosa Lino said.

“We wanted to make sure that we honor that tradition,” Barbosa Limo added.

One Reason Garden Bar hosted several musicians last year, but the bar’s late opening and the rainy summer put a damper on plans to bring more performers.

“Some great musicians came through last year. We already developed a little bit of a following and we’re just looking forward to getting it started early and hoping for a drier season,” Barbosa Lino said.

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The Harvard Crimson

Chip City Cookies Set To Sweeten up Harvard Square in July

Chip City Cookies, a New York City-based company offering cookies that clock in at more than a third of a pound, will open a Harvard Square location at 1 Brattle Sq. in July — the latest business seeking to sweeten up the Square.

The new location will be the third Massachusetts outpost for the company, which has 37 locations dotting the East Coast.

The chain, founded in 2017 by Peter Phillips and Theodore Gailas, offers a rotating cookie menu that features its five top sellers — chocolate chip, s’mores, cookies and cream, confetti, and dairy-free chocolate chip — alongside a range of other options.

The rotating offerings include cookie flavors inspired by other desserts, such as baklava and cinnamon roll, nods to favorite snack items like the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and even a “cookie butter cookie,” — something Gailas called “cookie-ception.”

“We make these giant ooey-gooey cookies. Crispy on the outside, gooey in the center,” Gailas said of his company’s product. “They’re pretty big. They’re about five and a half ounces each.”

Chip City began as a side gig for the cofounders, whose initial location in Queens, NY was only open a few days a week. After amassing a devoted following of cookie-lovers, the pair expanded to new cities but stayed focused on their signature product.

“We take pride in our ingredients,” Gailas said. “I think that’s what sets us apart.”

However, Chip City will not be the only cookie purveyor in the Square when they land in July. Insomnia Cookies, a campus mainstay on Mt. Auburn St., will also be vying for cookie fiends’ dollars.

Unlike Insomnia, which is open through 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, Chip City’s Boston location closes at 10 p.m. daily, and the new outpost is likely to be no exception.

Still, competition in the Harvard Square cookie business is nothing to worry about, according to Denise Jillson, executive director of the Harvard Square Business Association, who likened the situation to the market for pizza.

“There are a whole bunch of Harvard kids who absolutely love Pinocchio’s. And then there’s another whole set that really love Joe’s. And there’s another whole set that think that Otto is absolutely the best or that Oggi Gourmet is the best,” Jillson said.

Jillson said she expects that just like the pizza restaurants did, Insomnia and Chip City will each settle into their own niche and be successful.

According to Jillson, cookie customers will “benefit” from having two cookie shops in the Square.

“When there’s competition, everybody sets that bar just a little bit higher,” Jillson said.

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Axios

Cambridge’s first Black woman-owned dispensary opens

After two years of building and permitting delays, Harvard Square has a cannabis dispensary.

Zoom in: Yamba Boutique opened this week at 31 Church St., a small brick building that once housed a Cambridge police station.

  • The jail cell in the back is now an inventory room.
  • The boutique is a Black woman-owned dispensary catering to women, seniors, vets and queer people — really, anyone who hasn’t felt seen in the cannabis scene, says CEO Leah Samura.

Axios took a peek inside.

A shelving unit showing orange-tinted bongs, clay pipes and books behind the counter at Yamba Boutique in Cambridge.
The vast majority of non-regulated products — bongs, pipes, apparel — came from other Black woman-owned brands, CEO Leah Samura says. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
Yamba Boutique GM Shani Joseph, left, looks on as CEO Leah Samura, right, bends over to look at a laptop screen inside Yamba Boutique.
Yamba Boutique GM Shani Joseph, left, and CEO Leah Samura, right. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
A plaque at the entry of Yamba Boutique says: "On this site in 1864, a police station was built in the shadow of Harvard Univeristy, one of the most elite and historically white institutions in the country. Over 150 years later, this location is now the first majority woman-owned and 100% black owned cannabis establishment in Cambridge. Through education, accessibility and women's empowerment, Yamba Boutique is committed to ending the harmful and misguided persecution on cannabis use.""
A plaque stating Yamba’s mission at the entry. Photo: Steph Solis/Axios
A black jacket that states "Buy Weed From Women" hands on the wall at Yamba Boutique, one of several pieces of apparel for sale at the dispensary.
Photo: Steph Solis/Axios