Destination Dover

Perfect for summer retail therapy

Upcycled dresser from Just the Thing!

Courtesy Photo

Dover got a makeover. The picturesque downtown district of New Hampshire’s oldest permanent settlement, established in 1623, still echoes the Garrison City’s rich mill heritage, though now the renovated storefronts along Central Avenue are a destination for anyone in need of retail therapy this summer. Most of the shops are locally owned and have been in the family for multiple generations, so that one-of-a-kind find has the added value of being packaged with a personal touch.

When hunting for a hostess gift sure to delight or that “wow” piece for your porch or patio, pop into Just The Thing! The store is jammed full of gifts, home décor items and antiques, and it specializes in rustic or refined items that have been repurposed, refurbished and revitalized. Everything from tiny treasures to big pieces can be found here with prices ranging from under $5 to over $500. At this “green” business, items fly out the door fast, so if you love it, don’t leave it.
In the market for that distinctive graduation or wedding gift? Market Square Jewelers offers a huge collection of gorgeous gemstones, gold, platinum and silver, and the craftsmen there can take vintage and estate pieces that have been languishing in a safe deposit box, and repair or remake them into today’s designs. Be sure to check out the 1920s art deco watchband that was converted into a pair of sparkling diamond drop earrings and the beautiful antique brooches that are now trendy pendants.

At Garrison Hill Florists, which has been in town for 133 years and in the Massingham family since 1921, business is blooming. The designers pride themselves on creating bouquets of fresh flowers made by friendly people from exotic stems imported from across the planet mixed with summer-cut flowers sourced from local growers. The repeat clientele is also partial to the homemade chocolates, plush stuffed animals by Ganz, body care products by Anna and bottle wicks made in-state.

You won’t find the same labels you get at the state liquor store or grocery chain on the racks at Dover Wine Company. At this treat for oenophiles, the selection — running the gamut from $12 per bottle for a Portuguese Vinho Verde to “Oh My” for a very fine French champagne — constantly changes as new wines are introduced. The tastings every summer Friday and Saturday afternoon help you discover new favorites to perfectly pair with the store’s offerings of locally produced, herb-infused or candied caramel goat cheese, crackers and chocolates.

The new hot spot is The Gyro Spot, the second location of the popular Manchester eatery. The Dover restaurant opened last July, and serves fresh, fast, classic Greek gyros, Greek soups and desserts, salads, spreads and other healthy options made with meraki, which loosely translates to putting the essence of your soul into your work. Owner Alex Lambroulis learned many of the recipes from his grandmother, who also taught him to treat each customer like family. The tzatziki — Greek yogurt blended with cucumber, garlic and fresh herbs — is a house specialty.

No trip to Dover is complete without visiting Harvey’s Bakery & Coffee Shop, which has been a landmark for 86 years and still serves breakfast and lunch from original recipes. Fans of the trademark maple squares, maple donuts and maple rounds come from as far away as Boston. This local beacon is also famous for award-winning, homemade pork pies, chicken pot pies and chowders. Check out the Tiffany lampshades over the glass bakery display counters; they’re original.

In 1958, Red Murray opened Red’s Shoe Barn with closeouts and second runs from area factories, but now the store sells only first-quality, top-of-the-line, name-brand merchandise. Ladies’ fashion items, men’s workwear, activewear and accessories are available with shoes for the whole family. Even better, customers get personalized service with a perfect fit they can’t get with an internet buy. The summer parking lot sale during the second week in July has been a can’t-miss tradition for 20 years.

Formerly known as Tuttle’s Barn, Tendercrop Farm at the Red Barn is the oldest farm in America, but here you’ll find more than 1,000 of the freshest farm-to-table food items and beverages to make your summer meals spectacular. The displays of every type of organic produce, herbs and plants are works of art, and the full-service butchery sells meat from their grass-fed and free-range animals that are antibiotic-, nitrate- and sugar-free. The daily deals — including a dozen cage-free eggs for 99 cents and a dozen ears of just-picked butter and sugar corn for $2.99 — are a big draw. So are the Farm Friends Petting Zoo and summer BBQ weekends with live music and grass-fed burgers hot off the grill and served with a side of that inimitable sweet corn.

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