Christmas Shopping in Concord
Find something for everyone in our state's capital any time, but the annual Midnight Merriment on Dec. 1 is a great time to start working on your list
Concord’s annual Midnight Merriment (December 1 at 5 p.m.) is a great way to check out the city’s shops and revamped Main Street. Photo by Eric Fleming
You might think you know your way around Concord. After all, it’s our capital city. But a lot has happened there recently, including a complete revision of the downtown Main Street shopping district. It’s now arguably the most accessible city in the state and is cued up to provide some of the most inviting and picture-perfect holiday shopping to be found so we encourage you to check it out. Because some shops may have changed since your last tour, we’ve asked a few well-known locals to serve as guides. Each of the following shoppers is known for a command of the terrain and a good sense of style. To ensure that you have a tip or starting point for any sort of gift you might need, we’ve asked them each to respond to the same set of prompts. And if we missed anything, well, there’s always that old standby: a gift subscription to this fine magazine (full disclosure: I’m the editor).
Concord City Councilor, Ward 4
Something old: Wellington’s Marketplace. An aged cheese and a 35-year-old bottle of port are fine companions in front of the fire on a winter’s eve.
Something new: I’m a new music fiend, so my go-to disc store is Pitchfork Records. From Kishi Bashi to LCD Soundsystem to Tank and The Bangas, if Pitchfork doesn’t have it, they will get if for me in a couple of days.
Clothes for my other: My spouse looks stunning in the designer clothes with a hint of international flair found at Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co. Another favorite at the other end of North Main Street is Fabulous Looks Boutique.
Clothes for myself: People often ask me where I find the bow ties that I wear. The implication, despite the fact that bow ties are probably more popular than at any time since the ’50s, is that they are hard to find. Not so. Britches of Concord has a great, colorful collection. And great slacks, sports shirts and jackets too.
Something fun: For fun, I can go around the world or just walk the dog at YoYo Heaven on North Main Street.
Something fine: Nothing is finer than 1,000-grit sandpaper from Rocky’s ACE Hardware on Loudon Road.
Something at the last minute: Being a bibliophile, my last-minute gift of choice is a book, and Gibson’s Bookstore has the best selection in the city, hands down, as well as a knowledgeable staff that can find a title for every taste — they are lifesavers.
Host of “The Attitude” on WNHNfm.org and NH political commentator on WGBH and WKBK
Something old: I have a PhD in second-hand anything, and without fail I do well and do good when I shop at OutFITters. I usually manage a one-of-a-kind find from some exotic place I will never visit or from a designer shop I have only read about in some chichi magazine. Also, it is a crucial source of funding for one of the most admired local nonprofits, Families in Transition.
Something new: I, for one, am the queen of eclectic, so I love Chickadee Lane Interiors. You are drawn in by the charm and quaint cottage feel of the store and then want to linger because this place promises the perfect find for every taste.
Clothes for a friend: Probably Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co. or else Susana’s Sewing Studio. Susana’s is full of handmade items and looks like Mary Poppins meets 2017. The owner is a skilled seamstress so she can also alter or repair stuff that you can’t bear to let go.
Clothes for myself: Name a thrift store (Concord has several) and it has contributed to my wardrobe. What I love is that people shop all over the world and then give it away here, usually to sell for a good cause. It’s also a form of recycling so it ticks off all my value boxes.
Something fun: Cobblestone Design Company is new to downtown but not new to Concord. It has no rival in floral arrangements and design add-ons. If bold color is your thing, hold on to your wallet because it is a color orgy in there.
Something fine: Pompanoosuc Mills just relocated downtown to a new space on Main Street. I can’t afford their furniture, but their accessories are to die for. Company C offers some stiff competition. Anything you buy at either place makes a statement.
Something at the last minute: I’d go back to Chickadee Lane because I could go in there blindfolded, and pick something off the shelf and know it will be cool.
Arts Education Grants Coordinator NH State Council on the Arts
The funny thing is, I don’t actually like shopping! I find it stressful. What I do like is supporting local businesses and having interesting shopping experiences, so I tend to go to stores and venues that have locally made or handcrafted items.
Something old: I’ve had many treasure hunting adventures at Concord Antiques Gallery. Whether I need a quirky object for my own DIY project or a gift card for a housewarming, I know I’m purchasing both an object and hours of fun exploration.
Something new: I’m all about new experiences, and I love gifting a night at the Capitol Center for the Arts or Hatbox Theatre. Sometimes a whole night of fun can be a more exciting and memorable gift than a physical object.
Clothes for my other: My partner is super active as a runner-cyclist-climber-swimmer-hiker. Concord has over 80 miles of trails in our city limits, and great stores such as Runner’s Alley, Joe King’s Shoe Shop and S&W Sports wrap those endorphins in quality gear.
Clothes for myself: Lilise Designer Resale! I can find both funky and professional clothing, and it’s second-hand, which is a little more affordable. Plus, there are always some really weird and fun items.
Something fun: I am a big fan of Katmandu Bazaar in the Lamplighter Plaza on the Heights. It’s an Asian and African grocery store with cheap lentils, aisles of spices and a restaurant in the back for instantly gratifying and yummy samosas. A gift certificate here is usually received with wide eyes and a piqued interest in new recipes.
Something fine: I can’t resist handmade pottery, jewelry, rugs, wall hangings ... OK, handmade anything. So I hop on over to the League of NH Craftsmen Fine Arts Gallery when I want a special gift. I love seeing the many individual choices and care that is crafted into functional works of art.
Something at the last minute: I am perpetually running out of time, and there are always a few people at the end of my list that are super-hard to shop for. Perfect storm for a shopping meltdown. To the rescue are Marketplace New England and Concord Handmade’s pop-up shop. Both have a really wide range of gifts, and every time you go it’s different. Plus, handmade equals love, so the recipient doesn’t know the gift was a last-minute find.