The Fantastic Umbrella Factory – open daily from 10am-5pm after a prolonged winter of limited, seasonal hours – defies immediate description. There are a collection of shops, sure, and a cafe. And there are the nurseries. Oh, and don’t forget the animals: some goats, chickens, ducks and a trio of emus who look and sound like extras from Jurassic Park. There’s a bamboo maze too, you know, just because. All of this exists on an early 19th century farm homestead. Sure, why not.
Small Axe Productions occupies the larger building on the grounds and sells an international assortment of handmade goods. Out front is the General Store, which offers a more kitschy assortment of toys and novelty gifts. Other shops offer everything from vintage eyewear to handscreened t-shirts. Out in the back the chickens, goats and dinosaurs... er, emus are kept in pens, but feeding them is encouraged. The Small Axe Cafe offers dishes made with vegetables grown locally and on-site. Art adorns every path and fence post and the vibrant, fragrant gardens are lovely. On paper this all might sound like a bit much, but in practice it is impressively chill.
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory isn’t just a constellation of wacky gift shops, it’s an exceptionally unique constellation of wacky gift shops. Their anything goes philosophy is more laid back than anarchic, which probably has lots to do with its hippy “je ne sais quoi” versus, say, the cynical “je ne sais ugh” ethos of your more city-variety hipster. It’s that cool, secret place you can impress your friends with just as much as it’s someplace you’ll want to bring the entire family, from baby to grandma.
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory
4820 Old Post Rd, Charlestown