Way back in 2004, brothers Brian and Steven Beaucher and Steven's wife Julie Richmond had dinner one night at a now-closed watering hole in Downtown Boston. We had gotten together to discuss our growing collection of antique cadastral and city maps of Boston. We asked ourselves how could we fund the acquisition of more maps for our collections and at the same time share our maps with others. We decided to begin selling off maps we no longer wanted to keep as well as experimenting with scanning and offering printed reproductions of our maps.
Our early ventures included a card table at the very fist Boston South End Open Market. The market is now called SoWa Open Market and the flagship of multiple markets throughout New England. We also tested the waters with our modest website. Since we all lived in smaller condos in Downtown Boston, we offered reduced size paper reproductions of our maps to other city dwellers and the response was positive. While our early success allowed us to achieve our goal of purchasing new maps, we were able to invest more in our businesses, purchasing maps and investing in technologies and equipment to improve how we scanned our maps and printed our reproductions.
Over the years, we grew from working out of our homes and attending weekend markets and holiday craft fairs around Boston. The card table grew into our mobile store, a tent that we stocked with antique maps, fine art reproductions as well as our own line of customizable cartographic gifts. After being asked thousands of times "where is your store?" at all those craft fairs, we took the leap and opened our first retail store on Bow Street in Harvard Square, Cambridge in 2008. Yes, 2008. We all discussed that if we survived the great recession then our business was indeed viable. Thanks to our customers, we actually grew in leaps in bounds during what was a rough time in retail. Brian had recently started Boston Coasters brand, expanding our reach beyond antique maps. Via Boston Coasters, we produce customizable products that we call "functional art" featuring the indie art and photos from local and emerging artists.
We quickly outgrew that first shop in Harvard Square and after formalizing our business as WardMaps LLC in 2008, we moved to our current location. Our retail store and home office is now located at 1735 Massachusetts Avenue, between Porter and Harvard Squares. The larger shop allowed us to complement our collections by stocking antique maps and vintage artifacts consigned with us by other dealers and collectors. But even a larger space on Mass Ave was not large enough to contain our growing gift production business and sizable archive of antique maps and transit memorabilia. We opened our Somerville warehouse and product production space at the Ames Business Park in 2012. The warehouse space was soon filled to the rafters with old signs from Boston's historic subway after we bid for and were awarded the MBTA Merchandise Program contract. Working with Boston's public transit authority, we not only produce, market and fulfill orders for thousands of MBTA themed gift products, we also gather decommissioned signs, maps and small equipment for resale to the public. We closed our warehouse some years ago.
It's been a long journey from 2004, with many years of hard work evolving something special for us and our customers. In addition to antique and reproductions of antique maps of Boston, we know offer maps from all parts of the globe with a focus on city plans. Our in-house gift line features antique maps, indie art, and MBTA themed designs printed onto an ever expanding line of products including our popular mugs, magnets and coasters. We have developed relationships with vendors and clients with whom we collaborate to make unique projects. We've created one-off art pieces for restaurants and even provided prints of our antique maps for movie and tv productions.
Over the years, Julie has moved on from WardMaps to focus on her career as an attorney while Brian relocated to Michigan to operate a gaming bar and lounge www.houseruleslounge.com. Steven, along with our skilled team, continues to source antique artifacts and contemporary products for our customers and clients.
As a family business, we continue to enjoy making personal connections in our retail store, online, via social media with our customers, vendors, resellers and all those with whom we do business. We hope to help you find an antique map or gift product for you. See you soon in our retail store and we look forward to your online purchase!