Warm Up in the Shops of Plymouth
There's no such thing as "closed for the season" here
Carved birds by Barbara McAlister, found at Artistic Roots
photo by liz davenport
If you really want to find shops and businesses that are hip and fun, the best place to look is in a college town, especially in the middle of winter when there is no such thing as “closed for the season.” Plymouth, home to Plymouth State University, offers a lovely walkable Main Street that is both alive and percolating with inspiration and hospitality. Stop in, the lights are on and the coffee’s hot.
Artistic Roots is where you will want to linger on a snowy afternoon; it’s like a museum with no admission charge. You’ll find the works of fine art and crafts from more than 40 local professional artists and artisans. Look for note cards, pottery, carved animals (Barbara McAlister) and fine Shaker boxes from Barbara Beecher. Diane Taylor Moore’s vivid pastels of the area (Franconia Notch) are stunning. You will also find lovely one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, painted furniture, fiber, quilts, sculpture and more. This is a “happy place” on a gray winter day.
Get into outdoor fun and stumble into Plymouth Ski & Sports, where you’ll find the best names in skis, boards, skates, helmets, eyewear, outerwear and anything to do with alpine skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, hockey and skating. The shop offers seasonal rentals on both new and used equipment. And don’t worry about how you’re going to look on the slope; you’ll find a large selection of skiwear, including classy brands such as Patagonia and, of course, Oakley sunglasses. Yup, you’re ready for the black diamond.
Backroad Boutique is the place to shop for people who care more about ease and comfort than trendy labels and expensive tailored looks. Most items are from Alternative Apparel, which is known for amazing blends of cotton and total commitment to diversity and the planet. Their line is casual and carefree and includes hoodies, skirts, tees, dresses, scarves and more. The feel of the cotton on winter-weathered skin is so so comfy. Look for funky displays — old bed springs for hangers, plumbing fixtures for racks and old chairs hanging from the wall piled high with sweaters. It’s a blast in here.
Fitting a customer for ski boots at Plymouth Ski & Sports
photo by liz davenport
Need a little cash? Have a closet full of hardly worn jeans? Off the Hanger is looking for you. This boutique carries pre-loved clothing and pays up front with cash for items still in style and not from a grandmother’s closet. You can also find new items such as leggings lined with fleece ($9!), recycled sweater mittens made locally from gently worn wool and other deals the owners can get their hands on. This shop is fresh, upbeat, stylish and a great place to find a couple of inexpensive items to extend a wardrobe.
Birthday parties and special occasions are inevitable in the New Year, so why not do all the shopping at once? Simply Sunflowers is the perfect little shop for affordable jewelry and accessories. This is the place for Alex and Ani bracelets (and the path to the cash register is well-worn). Fun items include birthstone mugs from Healing Touch Pottery, quilted shoulder bags, temporary tattoos, funky sunglasses ($12.95), dream journals and some very cool fair trade jewelry. The custom 14k gold New Hampshire necklaces (designed by the store’s owner) are oh-so-sophisticated.
Kindles are great, but do they catch the tears that flow when reading a good romance (Nicholas Sparks)? Sneak into The Readery and indulge in a few good paperbacks from some of your favorite authors for the sake of holding a “real” page-turner in your hand. This previously-owned-paperback bookstore sells paperbacks for half the original price and they are all in great shape with no yellow pages or musty smell. Most books are new within the last five years, so stock up; it’s going to be a long winter.
There’s something behind the name Dressers Unlimited, literally. This is a dress and dresser shop (I kid you not). There’s a section of men’s wear, tuxedos and other casuals (Woolwich), along with women’s wear against a backdrop of dressers and other antique furniture, all for sale. The boutique area features great lines such as Tribal, Cut Loose (color and flatter) and Yala (bamboo!), which are all great looks for layering and comfort. Throughout the store there are dressers, vanities and other antique furniture used as displays but in fact for sale. Some of the prices are ridiculously low. It’s a bit eclectic but in a fun, happy way.
If you’re lost, find yourself at Chase Street Market and you’ll be in the company of some great Plymouth locals. This shop is full of local flair, high-end deli meats and prepared foods, bakery items, household goods and jellybeans. Look for every imaginable craft beer; you can buy it by the bottle and the walk-in beer cooler is legendary. The wine selection is also fabulous. Inside the store is an independent coffee shop, Café Monte Alto offering steamy, creamy coffee (Arabica) and sweets. Just outside and down below is Biederman’s Deli and Pub, which is the place to be on cold winter nights. Look for cold beer (taps galore), generous pub sandwiches and hearty soups and chowder. Pub specials, promotional nights and live music are the norm and “selfies” at the bar a tradition.
Bring your SUV. You just might need the extra space for the treasures you will discover at Boomerang Used Furniture & Funky Stuff Ltd. This is a collaborative effort of some locals who have a great eye for up-cycling and re-purposing items. Take your time to linger, the shop has two floors; you will want to look deep to see the possibilities. Look for funky side tables, old trunks and benches. The cute orange-and-blue storage bench priced just right is (ahem), no longer there.