Best of NH 2020 Shops & Services

Who doesn't need a little retail therapy now and then? From funky vintage shops to local jewelers, here's where to indulge yourself. Plus, find the best services in pet care, fitness and more.

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Editor’s Picks

Hot Rod Shop

Jimmydunn100x100by Jimmy Dunn
I’m a car guy. I was 15 when I bought my first one, a 1969 Camaro, that was paid for with money I made scrubbing dishes at the Sea Ketch. I hated that job — seagulls would follow me on my bike ride home. But I loved that car. Car guys find each other, and I found Eli English and his cars on Instagram. His feed is car guy porn. Traditional Speed and Custom is located in a traditional New England barn in South Pittsfield, and it’s where Eli and his family build, repair and restore some of the coolest cars in the world. And it truly is a family business. During the recent lockdown, his children’s homeschool project was building a 1928 Ford Model A Frankenstein Hot Rod from scrap parts. The kids are 13 and 16.

Say Adieu to Your Quarantine Hair

Lynnesnierson100x100by Lynne Snierson
The name says it all. Treat yourself to beauty, relaxation and the “good life” at Bonne Vie Salon & Spa in Derry, where the talented team of stylists, estheticians and nail technicians provide professional pampering with that ever-important personalized touch. Owner/principal designer Jacqueline Dulgarian, who is a Cézanne with color and cut, has been in the hair and beauty industry for 40 years yet she and the staff are up on the latest trends and newest top quality products for women and men.

Season for Change

Evelyn Cormier100x100by Evelyn Cormier
Some of my favorite places to shop are at thrift stores. People ask me all the time where I get my clothes, and usually they’re thrift-store finds. I’ve shopped at Changes Thrift Store in Claremont since childhood, and it’s worked its way into my heart. During this quarantine time, I know that everyone is going through their closets (including me), and I’m looking forward to browsing Changes to see what vintage golden nuggets you’ve discarded for me to discover. You might just see that old sundress you wore once in 1978 living its best life on my social media.


Photo by Kendal J. Bush

Antiques and Art

Rick100x100By Rick Broussard
Prospect Hill Home in Sunapee Harbor is a store that’s hard to pin down. It’s an outgrowth of the beloved Prospect Hill Antiques in the nearby countryside. When that 40-something-year-old store wanted to diversify, they decided to find a more central spot. They still offer plenty of antiques and curiosities, all selected as useful or delightful home design items or accessories, but in the sprawling 7,000-square-foot space you’ll also find one-of-a-kind furnishings, fantastic art and even a vintage Harley. The Sunapee location is home to many well-heeled residents and to a number of in-demand artists who enjoy this serene location to create works that sell in major galleries. Prospect Hill Home has begun connecting residents with popular artists like Peter Fiori, David Zerba and Lisa Jelleme to brighten their dwellings, and they can provide them with custom furniture by some of the country’s finest craftsmen. And after you shop, you can still get an ice cream cone or some fries and watch the boats come and go on the lake. They are still open seven days a week or by appointment.

Repair Men

Jay100x100by Jay Atkinson
In my long and checkered athletic career, I’ve suffered numerous injuries and have worked with legions of orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists. The best experience I’ve ever had, by far, is the treatment I received from Balance Rehabilitation and Health Science, located in Windham and Goffstown. After extensive surgery to reassemble my left ankle, I turned to Chris Pierce at Balance. Chris and Pete Olson founded the business in 2006, and are known for thoroughness, innovation and a passion for their work. The surgeon said I’d probably never play contact sports again. One year after my first appointment at Balance, I played rugby in a tournament, and we won our division.

’Tis (Always) the Season

Jwocker100x100by J.W. Ocker
In North Conway there is a store that the more unenlightened among us might call gimmicky: a year-round Christmas shop called The Christmas Loft. The Christmas Loft is an honest-to-Santa-Claus year-round store dedicated to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. I’m normally of the opinion that anything Christmasy outside of November and December is blasphemy, but The Christmas Loft alters time. Grows Grinch hearts. Shines Rudolph noses. You walk into the Christmas Loft regardless of the month and are immersed in a classic New England Christmas. It puts the soul back in soulless Christmas shopping, and we should be proud that New Hampshire has one of the best Christmas shops on the planet. Take that, North Pole.

The Bookstore

Pj Orourke 100x100by P.J. O’Rourke
Calling the Toadstool Bookshop “best in New Hampshire” is too close to faint praise, like “Nebraska’s best lobster roll.” It may be the top bookstore in America. (Or the top three — with locations in Peterborough, Keene and Nashua.) More than 50,000 new and used titles, congenial cafés, surprising CD and vinyl selections, and speedy online book orders make Toadstool good. Making it wonderful is Willard Williams, who founded Toadstool in 1972 at age 19, from sheer love of books. He and his staff read. So does their clientele. Asking for assistance is more literary salon than customer inquiry. Pages, not smartphones, are thumbed through in the aisles. Checkout is an impromptu book club.

Color Connoisseurs

Rick100x100by Rick Broussard
Company C is quick to point out the “C” in their name stands for color. Founded in a New Hampshire family’s garage, Company C’s bold use of color, pattern, texture and contrast has become a trademark, and their retail outlet in Concord’s industrial district was a magnet for homeowners and designers from near and far. Their recent relocation to a convenient spot on downtown Concord’s Storrs Street has been a huge gift to both Company C fans and to the Capital City, hoping to lure just this kind of anchor retail to their walkable shopping district. Rugs, furniture, fabrics and gifts from Company C all are designed to make a big impression and it’s almost impossible for a homeowner to walk out of their store empty-handed.

Puzzle Providers

Rebecca Rule100x100by Rebecca Rule
Puzzlers know Piece Time Puzzles in Northwood has everything they need. The barn on Route 4 houses thousands of jigsaws, including a kids’ section, used puzzles in a tent outside, and handcut puzzles made from customers’ photographs. The barn is an art gallery of colorful puzzle boxes, stacked floor to ceiling, for your browsing delight, including Ravensburger, Cobble Hill and White Mountain brands. Enthusiasts always have a puzzle going. When one is finished, the next must be started immediately. Heaven forbid I should find my puzzle cupboard empty. Owners Rose and Mark Stevens understand the emergency puzzle run. I like a 1,000-piecer. The 500s go too quick and the 1500s don’t fit on my table. My current Sunsout of a cat among quilts will keep me occupied for at least a month.

Music Mill 02

Manchester Music Mill. Courtesy photo.

Not Everyone’s a Critic

by Bill Burke
Bill Burke100x100Step inside Manchester Music Mill on Elm Street, walk up the stairs and absorb the groove that radiates off the endless rows of new and used gear packed into this musical sanctuary. Walk past the floor-to-ceiling Fenders and Gibsons, take a right at the bass wall and find yourself ensnared by the siren song of the climate-controlled acoustic room dead ahead. Even better, this independent shop is staffed by people who don’t shame me for playing “Norwegian Wood” wrong during one of the many impromptu, only-in-my-head gigs they didn’t know they hosted.

Readers’ Poll Winners

Antique or Vintage Shop
REVIVED Furniture and Home Décor

Automotive Group
Grappone Automotive Group

Barber Shop
Concord and Portsmouth

Beer Store
Bert’s Better Beers

Bicycle Shop
Tri-City Bicycles

Bicycle Shop Multilocation Local
Goodale’s Bike Shop
Hooksett, Nashua and Concord

Butcher Shop
Tuckaway Tavern and Butchery

Celebrations Catering

Fitness Instructor
Cally Wickson at C_Wickson Studios

Garden Center
Wentworth Greenhouses & Garden Center

Home Décor Shop
REVIVED Furniture and Home Décor

Independent Bookstore
Gibson’s Bookstore

Independently Owned Fitness Center
C_Wickson Studios

Kids’ Clothing Shop
Puddlejumpers Children’s Shop

Local Jeweler With Store
Jonathan’s Jewelers

Men’s Clothing Shop
George’s Apparel

Pet Boarding
Take Five Dogcare

Pet Boarding Multilocation Local
The Barking Dog
Derry, Exeter and Hooksett

Pet Groomer
Mac and Copper’s Pet Supply Outlet


Pet Supplies Store
Woofmeow Family Pet Center
Derry and Dover

Pet Training
No Monkey Business Dog Training

Secondhand Clothing Shop
M&C Clothing and Gifts

Ski Shop
Piche’s Ski & Sport Shop
Gilford and Belmont

Specialty Food Store
Angela’s Pasta & Cheese Shop

Toy Store
The Noggin Factory

Wine Shop
WineNot Boutique

Women’s Clothing Shop
Gondwana & Divine Clothing Co.

Yoga Studio
Sol Power Yoga

LaValley Farms

Indoor Cycling

Hair Salon
Wingate Salon & Spa



Categories: Best of NH Winners