The Mushroom Shop will open in Somerville in 2022
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In describing his next mushroom shop, Tyler Akabane wants you to imagine a butcher shop.
“[The mushrooms] will be behind some kind of glass chest, ”he described,“ and you will go up and order by the pound. I’m sure I’ll have some sort of daily special, like a mushroom mix.
Akabane will be opening The Mushroom Shop in the Winter Hill neighborhood of Somerville early next year, the culmination of more than seven years of working in the mushroom business, where he has led picking classes and supplied mushrooms to local restaurants. However, it was his home delivery service that allowed him to truly envision a physical store.
After the pandemic, the businesses of Akabane restaurant customers slowed down considerably as they temporarily closed or shifted to take-out, and Akabane, who developed a love for foraging soon after college, still had plenty of mushrooms to hand out. Home cooking was on the rise, which sparked interest in experimenting with maitake, shimeji, yellow feet, and other varieties. Akabane therefore started promoting a mushroom delivery service through his Instagram account, @mushroomsformyfriends, urging the public to order mixed bags of mushrooms for delivery – first via Instagram posts, then via a Google form, and at as the delivery service grew, via its website.
“It happened very quickly, so much so that I didn’t really recognize it for a year,” he said. “There were times when we made 60 or 70 home deliveries in a day. It was me and two other people doing home deliveries. It got pretty wild, pretty fast.
Akabane has also seen a growing interest in the courses he offers, which lead small groups on foraging expeditions to discover and identify a wide variety of fungi.
“I really think the mushrooms are having a moment,” Akabane said. “I think it’s probably several things, one of which is that people are eating more local and even more people are interested in organic. Some people had free time [because of the pandemic]. My classes were very busy, and that’s either because of the pandemic and people wanting an outdoor activity because it’s safer, or because of their growing interest in mushrooms. It seems like a good reason to open a store.
To help fund the opening of The Mushroom Shop – which Akabane says is the only one of its kind in Massachusetts – he turned to NuMarket, a crowdfunding platform. The campaign has already reached and exceeded its goal of $ 30,000.
In addition to mushrooms, Akabane said The Mushroom Shop will sell items that complement the store’s main product – corn and peaches in the summer, pumpkins in the fall, asparagus in the spring, and more. He also plans to sell books and other learning resources focused on mushrooms, and maybe even mushroom-themed artwork.
“It’s not a place to sit – there are no chairs – but I hope people will want to come and discuss mushrooms and learn,” Akabane said. “It can be a clubhouse and a mushroom hangout.”
For the non-mushroom and passers-by, Akabane also hopes to offer coffee.
When it opens, The Mushroom Shop will operate three or four days a week; Akabane will use the other days to prepare home deliveries, which it will continue to offer, or to meet the needs of people in the restaurant industry who wish to come and shop in its inventory. Above all, he hopes to spark the same interest he felt years ago when he started searching for mushrooms in the Blue Hills, triggering a sense of connection that comes from collecting wild ingredients to use. in your own kitchen.
“I always say that Americans have been mycophobic for a long time,” Akabane said. “Parents teach their children from an early age: Hands off these mushrooms. … May be [foraging] will not be noticeable one day. People will just say, “Oh yeah, I’m going to get some mushrooms. “
Stay up to date with the opening of The Mushroom Shop by following the shop at @themushroomshopsomerville.
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