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CHISTYAKOV: Rodeo Drive of the East Coast

Pick up any tourist guidebook about Los Angeles and one of the first spots it will tell you to visit is Rodeo Drive. Lined with designer shops, Rodeo is the perfect place to either go spend your parents’ entire fortune or window shop, dreaming of a day when you could possibly afford to live this type of lifestyle. Along with the luxurious shops, Rodeo is also surrounded by many popular restaurants that many people (including myself) can only afford to go to once or twice a year for a special occasion. The last time I visited Rodeo was over Thanksgiving break to celebrate my brother-in-law’s birthday.

My sister, who is 32, also made a big transition a few months ago when she decided to move her own family to Chicago. This was also her first time being back in months, and we had both forgotten about the splendor of Rodeo. We both stared into Chanel, Tiffany’s, Gucci and Valentino. We began to relive our fantasies of being able to walk into any of these stores with our pockets filled with money, spending it on whatever we could get our hands on.

But visiting these stores only made me think about the street that many people call “The Rodeo Drive of the East Coast,” Newbury Street. What I like about Newbury is that while it is home to many luxury stores, that is not what defines it. If I told my dad I was going to visit Rodeo for the day, he would immediately grab my wallet and car keys and then he would secure his bank account. But if I called him and told him I was making a trip to Newbury, he wouldn’t have the same reaction because while it has many of the fancy stores that also inhabit Rodeo, it also has many small salons and cute restaurants. Newbury offers shopping for many different people, not just the rich folks from Beverly Hills like Rodeo.

I also like that I can walk down Newbury and not feel pressured that I should be a multi-millionaire. Rodeo would always make me feel like I was setting my standards too low, as if I should be looking to start up my own business rather than become a therapist or even a school counselor. Being on Rodeo would make me believe that money is all that matters, because it’s all that would surround me. There is no scenery around Rodeo, just the fancy stores next to the fancy restaurants on a street with all of the fancy cars. Tourists flock Rodeo as if it were the Jerusalem of California. I always feel so small and insignificant when I am there, as if I don’t matter in comparison to the huge brand names around me.

Newbury is much different. The stores aren’t so intimidating, and I can afford most of the things that I see when I go to visit. Newbury is also extremely beautiful — I could go just to take a walk and not feel like I had to go inside of a store. The atmosphere is completely different, mostly because there are no tourists taking pictures of all of the stores or the nice cars. It’s relaxing. I never feel bombarded when I walk down Newbury, and I never feel ashamed of my family’s background or myself when I’m there. Although some stores are very expensive, it’s nice that not all of them are. Being on Newbury is like a nice vacation away from the craziness of Rodeo.

I also have noticed that these two streets come with two very different reputations. If I told someone new that I had just come back from shopping on Rodeo, they would instantly stereotype me as a rich princess from Hollywood who has access to her daddy’s wallet (or at least that’s how I stereotype all of the girls that I know who shop there). But if I told someone that I was just shopping at Newbury, it wouldn’t have the some connotation. I’m not even sure if it would have a connotation, it just seems like another street with many stores lining it. Maybe I don’t know Newbury as well as Boston natives know it, but I can definitely tell that it is nothing like the infamous Rodeo. While most girls are sad to leave the luxury of Beverly Hills and Rodeo, I’m happy to say that I’m glad I’m not there anymore. It was very easy for me to say goodbye.

Rachel Chistyakov is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a Fall 2012 columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at rachelch@bu.edu.

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