Best of NH 2017 Shops & Services

Find global clothing and accessories at Editor's Pick winner Acopio Goods. (Courtesy photo)

Lavender Love: There’s a unique and beautiful farm tucked away in Hollis that will delight your senses. At Laromay Lavender, the grounds are filled with rows upon rows of lavender varieties, which Patti Carew has been cultivating for a decade. The fields are located at her home, and she opens her doors during Lavender Days, happening from July 8-9, and then during the second harvest in September (see the website or Facebook for more information). In the meantime, visit their online shop for a number of excellent lavender products, from soaps and essential oils to dried bundles and infused honey.

Community Fitness Center: Fortitude and the related FortCycle (located all in one building) in Manchester are the “Cheers” of gyms — just trade the barstools for bikes. The Fort is a welcoming place where the staff and owners know your name and greet you with a smile. For those who’ve experienced snobbery or intimidation at other fitness centers, the coaches and trainers at The Fort are encouraging, upbeat and tough — in a good way. Whether you want to sweat it out to the beat of pumping music at FortCycle or get whipped into shape via bootcamp, there’s a class you’ll love. They also offer barre, personal training, kickboxing, TRX and much more. When you’re on your way out, grab a tasty (but always healthy) smoothie.

Locally Made Toothpaste: Sometimes simple is better. People’s Paste does for your teeth what vinegar does for your countertop … it gets the surface really clean with a minimum of chemical intervention. Made in Nottingham, it contains xylitol, a natural sugar that is a proven cavity fighter. Yes, ask your dentist, it’s really true.

Wine and Cheese Selection: No idea what pairs with Gouda? Can’t tell a merlot from a pinot noir? What do you choose — white or red? Pairing wine and cheese can feel intimidating, especially when shopping in big stores that overwhelm you with options. At Wellington’s Marketplace in Concord, the knowledgeable and friendly staff can help you pick out just the right thing. They have a curated, eclectic selection of wine and plenty of European and local cheeses. Pro tip: Pick up the goods at lunchtime and enjoy one of their excellent sandwiches.

General Store Revival: When the Sandwich general store closed, residents lost a gathering space where you could linger, catch up on town news and talk with neighbors. Sandwich residents Elaine and Nick Vazanna decided to do something about it. Rather than reopen it as a traditional store, they renovated the building and created the Village Green Café and Market. Now everyone chats over coffee while picking up a few groceries and enjoying Nick’s paintings that decorate the walls. The spirit of the general store certainly lives on.

Global Goods: “Acopio” is Spanish for a gathering or collection, and the owners of Acopio Goods in Goffstown knew it was the perfect name for their shop. This colorful store houses a careful selection of handmade and high-quality items — from home décor to jewelry — sourced from both local artisans and from places as far away as Thailand. Diverse cultures and countries are on display at this cozy store. It’s both the ideal place to find a gift for that person who has everything and a great spot for brightening up your own home or personal style.

Kosher Hotel: This new 65-suite hotel is open to all, but it’s also the first ever year-round, strictly kosher luxury hotel in the country. Bethlehem’s Arlington Hotel is a contemporary boutique hotel (think “floating” fireplaces) with plenty of amenities, including a 24-hour tearoom, the Birch Bar and Bistro, a juice and cocktail bar, and an indoor gym and pool. For those who keep kosher, the hotel is situated next to a shul and mikvah, serves kosher meals and offers special events during holidays. This is all done under the careful supervision of a rabbi.

Kids’ Clothes on a Budget: Kids grow fast, and keeping up with clothes that fit can be a real financial challenge. Some families are able to hand clothes down from sibling to sibling, but if that’s not an option (or you just want something different), then check out Children’s Orchard in Newington. Here you can find quality, gently used clothing at very reasonable prices. You can also bring in barely worn clothing for cash or credit toward other items. And it’s not just clothes — they also resell toys, shoes and equipment.

New Way to Get in Shape: There’s no getting around it — exercise is boring. Or at least it used to be. A number of trendy new ways to get fit have been appearing for the last few years. From ballet-inspired barre to the SoulCycle craze, exercise has never been so fun (depending on your definition of fun, that is). Forget about logging miles on the treadmill and try something even more out there — indoor surfing. Body Design by Joy in Gilford offers Surfset, a total-body workout that takes place on a “surf trainer” that mimics the movement of a surfboard in the water. Far out, indeed.

Sleeping Bags: The name says it all. You want your overnight camping gear to keep you warm but not add weight to the pack, and Stephenson’s Warmlite sleeping bags, tents and other gear use  “exotic aerospace-derived materials” to achieve the perfect blend of comfort and efficiency.  Learn more by ordering a famous Warmlite catalog, but only if you’re 18 or older. The founder, Jack Stephenson of Gilford, was a dedicated “naturist” and the human models in his catalogs are often wearing only their birthday suits. Stephenson died early this year and the company, now run by his son, has a Colorado mailing address, but the Granite State has prior claim.

Practical Curiosity Shop: Needful Things in Rollinsford isn’t your typical thrift shop. First of all, they pride themselves on curating a “bizarre and unique collection of antiques and curios.” And, unlike stores in a similar vein, these items are useful. Browse a funky collection of vintage, new and used clothing, furniture, accessories, housewares and more. They also have a nice variety of records and antique record players.

Native American Craft Supplies: Atop a lonely hill in Washington, NH, you can explore a world of Native American clothing, beads, feathers, collectibles and craft items at The Wandering Bull. Or just order online and imagine these authentic and lovingly crafted items are being packed on a sacred butte in a desert. Wandering Bull also maintains a calendar of powwows and gatherings of the tribes.

Herb Garden: You can pick up basil and parsley at just about any store that sells plants, but if you’re looking for more unusual herbs, then local garden centers are a better bet. One of the best is StoneFalls Gardens in Henniker, which is a gorgeous place to visit and offers an entire greenhouse devoted to herbs. Yes, there are the usual favorites everyone recognizes, but you’ll also find hyssop, rue, nepeta, Echinacea, several lavender varieties, Artemisia, lemon verbena and more. Each year they make a point of carrying something new and unusual, so it’s worth the trip (or a phone call) to see what’s growing. While you’re there, make sure to stroll through the display gardens and stop in at the adorable shop.

Exotic Hardwoods: Wood is a many splendored thing for the wood lovers who own and work at Highland Hardwoods. They not only maintain a vast inventory of domestic and exotic hardwoods for builders or hobbyists; they know their stuff and appreciate the importance of hardwood forests for the world environment. They support “Project Learning Tree” to teach children about the value of forests, and they operate their Brentwood lumberyard and showroom on solar power.

Categories: Best of NH Winners