Best of NH 2012 Shops, Services and Beauty

Use this list to plan the best day of retail therapy ever. Our Best of NH shops include clothing boutiques, home décor and even athletic equipment. In this section you'll also find great beauty supply spots, spas and salons.
From Independent Fabrication in Newmarket

Use this list to plan the best day of retail therapy ever. Our Best of NH shops include clothing boutiques, home décor and even athletic equipment. In this section you'll also find great beauty supply spots, spas and salons.

Readers' Poll
Editor's Picks

Automotive Group: Buying a car can be a stressful experience. Take some of the worry out of the process by starting with the huge inventory of new and used cars at the many dealerships in Manchester's AutoFair Automotive Group.

Barbershop: The Clip Joint in Portsmouth feels like a journey back in time. This classic barber shop has fair prices, good conversation and a relaxed atmosphere you can't beat.

Beer Store: Beer lovers know that Barb's Beer Emporium in Concord and Londonderry is the place to find local brews as well as American craft, macro and microbrews and hard-to-find imports.

Bicycle Shop: Concord's S&W Sports is a great local spot to find a new bike or to bring yours in for a preseason tune-up. They also offer cold weather sports gear like skis and snowboards.

Bicycle Shop (Local Chain): Goodale's Bike Shops in Nashua, Hooksett and Concord was first established way back in 1919 and is still one of the best one-stop shops for all your biking needs, from wheels to helmets.

Caterer: Want to impress guests with delicious gourmet fare? Look no further than the catering services at Angela's Pasta & Cheese Shop in Manchester. They offer everything from antipasto to hot hors d'oeuvres and heat-and-serve dinners.

*Chicken Couture: The term "hip chick" gets reinvented at Pampered Poultry, specializing in fashionable yet practical attire for even the pickiest hen. Choose from a colorful assortment of chicken saddles – no, not for riding – that protect wings and backs from feather plucking, and if your fowl friend is a little messy, colorful diapers will protect your home or car. The farm is in Chester, but the attire is handmade and supports the Women's Sewing Cooperative in the Dominican Republic.

*Custom Rides: If you've been looking for a super-sweet, custom-built bike with all the fixin's, look no further. Recently relocated from Somerville, Mass., Independent Fabrication brought their high-end bikes and all the road-related gear to Newmarket in 2011. Not for the faint of heart or slim-walleted consumer, a custom Road, Cyclocross or Mountain bike is built to ride: choose personal paint specs, frame fit according to riding style and body type, plus everything/anything else you can imagine. With combinations of steel, titanium and carbon offerings, you are sure to dream up something you can't live without.

Day Spa: Escape from your troubles at The Wingate Salon and Spa in Stratham. With a spa menu that includes everything from nail care and pedicures to hair removal and massages, you'll be taken care of from head to toe.

*Downtown Hardware Store: The advent of big box stores was the doom of many small, locally owned businesses, and hardware stores were no exception. Happily, the Goffstown Hardware Store, perhaps one of the last remaining neighborhood hardware stores, is keeping the tradition alive.

Eyewear: Finding the right pair of glasses that is both comfortable and fashionable can be a tough chore. Let the knowledgeable staff at the Eyeglass Shop, PLLC in Portsmouth fit you with just the right ones.

Florist: Chalifour's Flowers, Gift & Gourmet in Manchester will go the extra mile to make sure your floral creation is perfect. Have your arrangement delivered or stop by the shop to pick up cards, gourmet baskets, candles and much more.

Garden Center: The friendly staff of horticulturalists, designers and artists at Churchill's in Exeter will help you with every aspect of gardening. Attend their monthly demonstrations and seminars to learn even more.

*Haircut Deal for Men: Know a guy who wouldn't set foot inside a salon? Send him to My Wicked Salon in Goffstown and he'll soon change his tune. He can enjoy a Sam Adams beer in a chilled mug, a shampoo, conditioning, head massage and haircut for just $18. (Women are welcome too, of course!)

Hair Salon: A favorite with bridal parties, you can trust your locks to the excellent stylists at the elegant yet unpretentious The Wingate Salon and Spa in Stratham.

*High-end Clothes at Great Prices: Love all things Chanel but can't afford them? Head to Lilise Designer Resale in Concord. There you'll find Chanel shoes, sunglasses and more. Prefer Diane Von Furstenberg? No problem. They have her too, as well as many others. And the prices you won't believe.

*Historic Shop: First opened in the 1790s, The Brick Store in Bath is the oldest continuously-operated general store in the US. You'll feel like you've gone back in time with the slanted counters that allowed room for women's hoop skirts, old painted signs for Morrison's English Liniment and Lady Poor's Ointment and merchandise enclosed in display cases.

Abode Home Furnishings

Home Décor Shop: There's nothing boring at Abode Home Furnishings in Portsmouth! Find funky, fashionable and unique pieces, from sofas and patio furniture to colorful kitchenware.

Home Décor Shop (Regional Chain): Company C in Concord is known for its colorful patterns. Their stunning rugs are worthy of inspiring a room's design.

Home Décor Shop (National Chain): Clean, modern styles inspired by classic elegance are what define Ethan Allen. Use their handy online room planner to start creating your dream design.

*Ingredient You Never Knew You Needed (Finishing Salts): You'll never look at salt the same way again once you wind your way down into the Salt Cellar in Portsmouth. Filled with flavored and unflavored finishing salts, as well as bath salts and body scrubs, the Salt Cellar takes this ubiquitous ingredient far away from the everyday. Imagine topping your poached egg with Truffle Salt, your plum tart with Merlot Salt or your steak with Smoked Serrano Salt. Buy three for $20 (Truffle Salt is slightly more) and start playing with the possibilities.

Independent Bookstore: Get lost in a good book at Water Street Bookstore in Exeter or hear about your favorite books right from the author at one of the store's numerous literary events.

Independent Bookstore (Local Chain): Toadstool Bookshops (Keene, Milford and Peterborough) offer an excellent selection of books by local writers as well as an interesting selection from all your favorite authors and a few you've yet to hear about.

From Bellman's Jewelers

Jeweler: Bellman's Jewelers in Manchester is the place to go to find a unique piece for your loved one. Bellman's has maintained the tradition of designing and manufacturing their own fine jewelry so your item is sure to be one-of-a-kind.

Jeweler (Regional Chain): Stop in at the Barmakian Jewelers location in Nashua to find exquisite pieces. Need a watch? Barmakian's fine watch selection is one of the best in New England.

Jeweler (National Chain): Kay Jewelers has everything from necklaces to watches, but they specialize in unbelievable engagement rings created by Hollywood jewelry designer Neil Lane.

Kids' Clothing Store: Nashua's Mother and Child Clothing and Gifts believes in being as eco-conscious as possible. Here you'll find retail, closeouts and consignment clothing as well as fair trade and organic clothing and accessories.

*Kombucha Tea: It sounds even stranger than it tastes, but Kombucha lovers know that once you get past the fact that this effervescent tea drink is made from fermented yeast it's really quite refreshing, with health benefits to boot. Just talk to anyone at Nature's Green Grocer in Peterborough, where you can find it on tap.

Lingerie Shop: The staff at Top Drawer in Exeter and Bedford offer expert bra-fitting help so you'll leave feeling beautiful with gorgeous lingerie that feels as good as it looks.

Local Jeweler with Store: Since 1970 Mark Knipe has practiced the art and skill of creating custom jewelry. Stop in the speciality jewelry gallery Mark Knipe Goldsmiths in Concord to see some of his incredible works of art.

Local Toy Store: Bring your little ones into Whirlygigs Toy Shop in Exeter and watch their eyes widen with delight. Shopping online has nothing on the excitement and wonderment of being a kid in a classic toy store like Whirlygigs.

*Maple Syrup Selection: Ah, that breakfast favorite, a sweet golden brown treat just waiting to be drizzled on a stack of fluffy pancakes. If you can't seem to get enough of syrup, then Zeb's General Store is the place you want to go. Anyone in North Conway will tell you the place makes shopping a whimsical, nostalgic experience with no shortage of delicious, locally made syrups.

Men's Clothing Shop: George's Apparel is a Manchester icon. The friendly and knowledgeable staff at this locally owned business can fit you with everything from a full suit to classy cufflinks, and with onsite tailoring you'll leave with everything looking just right.

Men's Clothing Store (National Chain): Grooms-to-be and prom dates have been trusting Men's Wearhouse locations for years to help them find the right pieces. With multiple locations and helpful style advice, they can help you dress right for the occasion.

Natural Food Store: A-Market in Manchester specializes in natural, organic and even locally produced grocery items. They also offer a health and beauty department and numerous healthy living events.

Pet Supplies Store: Of course, you only want the best for your furry companions, and that's what you'll get at Four Your Paws Only in North Conway. Bring Fido to the Pet Bakery to watch how biscuits and other dog treats are made.

Pet Supplies Store (National Chain): Shop with your pet at trusted Petco where you can find all the necessary supplies, treats and accessories you'd ever need. They also offer grooming and training services.

Pet Boarding: At Manchester's All Dogs Gym & Inn your pet doesn't just sit in a crate awaiting your return. Whether you need doggie daycare or overnight services, you can be sure that your dog is getting love, attention and exercise. Training and grooming are also offered.

Pet Boarding (Local Chain): The Barking Dog Ltd. has three handy locations in Derry, Exeter and Hooksett. With gyms, large outdoor spaces, AC, heated floors, professional grooming services, indoor and outdoor boarding and an excellent safety record, you can trust that your beloved pet is in good hands.

Recorded Music Store: In the age of iTunes and instant downloads it's nice to know you can still buy music (and DVDs) the old-fashioned way at the locally-owned Pitchfork Music in Concord. (603) 224-6700

Recorded Music Store (Regional Chain): Satisfy all your pop culture needs, from music and movies to comic books and novelty items at Newbury Comics.

Resort/Hotel Spa: The spa at the historic grand hotel the Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa is perhaps the ultimate place to pamper oneself. With serene ocean side scenery and a full menu of services, you'll never want to leave.

Lotions 'n Potions

Skincare/Specialty Makeup Boutique: At Lotions 'n Potions in Concord you might come in to find specialty makeup and end up staying for a massage, facial, pedicure or other spa service.

Shoe Store: Alec's Shoes in Nashua is a family-owned store where the staff is committed to helping you find just the right pair of brand-name shoes from sneakers to heels.

Shoe Store (National Chain): Find that pair of designer shoes you've been eyeing for a fraction of the cost at DSW Shoes.

Specialty Food Store: When you don't know what to make for dinner visit Angela's Pasta & Cheese Shop in Manchester for fresh pasta, fine cheese, wine and delicious gourmet-to-go meals.

*Tax-Free Shopping Spree: Great news for bargain lovers in the Merrimack area – the new Premium Outlet Center has opened the doors to 135 designer and name-brand stores that offer 25-65 percent off retail prices daily. Enjoy the open-air village feel and old New England charm as you stroll from Banana Republic to Ralph Lauren to Saks. Live Tax-Free or Die!

Thrift Store: Families in Transition operates two nonprofit thrift stores. Visit the Manchester OutFITters Thrift Store for new and used furniture, housewares, books and clothing or peruse new and gently used upscale clothing at the expanded OutFITters Thrift Store Boutique in Concord.

*Unique North Country Gift Shop: Something for every taste from cool to quirky to conservative can be found at SaVoir Flare in Berlin. This trendy and stylish spot is one more sign of new life emerging in an area of the state more famous for its signs of decline.

*Upscale Natural Products: Garnet Hill started in 1976 with the first shipment of English flannel sheets and has since grown into a large mail-order catalogue dedicated to the concept of natural fiber products. New Hampshire residents are lucky to have the Franconia retail store where you can find overstocked and discontinued items at up to 70 percent off.

*Wedding Lingerie: With the addition of Kitty BlackHeart, Portsmouth just got a little bit sexier. This lingerie store also offers private lingerie parties and boudoir-style sexy photo shoots, but their wedding shop will intrigue brides-to-be. With accessories, stationery, favors, planning tools and, of course, lingerie for the wedding night, this is really a one-stop shop.

*Wine & Cheese: As if Portsmouth needed to be any more romantic: If you're looking for the perfect way to end your evening stroll, take your date to Corks and Curds to enjoy a variety of fine wines and artisan cheeses. Choose one of nearly 60 wines to pair with local grapes and cheeses. Better yet, the shop professionals are always glad to create a pairing just for you. (603) 431-5564

*Year-round Farmers Market: Whether it's July or January, you can get locally sourced food at the Saturday farmers market at Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford. Veggies, meats, bread, pastries, dips, sauces, honey and more – the 20 plus vendors at the market are selling it no matter the weather – in the winter inside the glass greenhouse – in the spring and summer in the parking lot. In the winter there's also a traditional craft show. In the summer you can enjoy a walk through the gardens.

Wine Shop: Owner of The Wine Steward, Rocco Gervino, is descended from an Italian wine-making family, so you could say excellent wine taste is in his genes. Benefit from his extensive knowledge by stopping in at this charming Hampstead shop.

Women's Clothing Boutique: LunaChics in Exeter makes finding the perfect pair of jeans a snap. Complete your new look with their trendy accessories, handbags, jewelry and more.

Categories: Best of NH Winners