Exeter, NH Offers Fantastic Shopping

There's not one shop you should skip in Exeter

Exeter is enticing, exotic and exhausting. There isn’t a shop you shouldn’t visit. On finding a parking space, I froze. Up and down Water Street were “open” flags and people bustling about. “This is going to cost me,” I sighed to myself.  Suddenly my wallet started humming a familiar sound, “Let it go, let it go, can’t hold back anymore.” I had a brain worm and some shopping to do.

There truly is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and it’s called Churchill’s Garden Center. This upscale, one-of-a-kind, year-round garden and gift shop is filled with beautiful, thriving annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs, roses and herbs, and hard-to-find gift items as well as real petting animals and a parrot named Oliver. Pick up your mums here and get a leap on your holiday shopping.  You’ll find Patience Brewster collector items and realistic plush animals from Hansa as well as smart, sophisticated gifts and entertainment ware. This greenhouse is so spectacular people hold special events here.

There’s a party going on and you’re “It” the moment you walk through the door at Cornucopia Wine/Beer & Cheese Market, where you’ll find everything you didn’t know you needed to have a lovely day. This wine and cheese store offers cheese and fruit platters to go, rental bikes that come with picnic baskets and blankets, and all the goodies you need to have a savory smooth along the river. Look for craft beers, personally selected wines, specialty foods, meats and more. Try the Lemon Grass Wine (a white blend of Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc Semillon) with a smooth garlic and chive chèvre from Millcreek Dairy. Wine and beer tastings every Friday.

Find romance, mystery, intrigue and so much more at Water Street Bookstore. Jean-Paul is the store’s “Book Whisperer” and can pair a book with a reader’s personality with spot-on accuracy. You’ll find a peaceful sitting area in the back of the store overlooking the river, where you can record your thoughts in one of the composition books on the table. A second room offers books for children of all ages. Events and book signings year-round keep the lights on here past normal business hours.

Trends Gift Gallery & Invitation Studio is like Exeter’s own “Welcome Wagon.” This is the anchor shop where everyone goes whenever they need greeting cards, gifts, candles, flags, specialty foods (Stonewall Kitchen), lotions (Crabtree & Evelyn), local souvenirs and a little attention. For personalized baby announcements to wedding invitations, owner Kathy Lemerise will steer you in the right direction. Look for great jewelry and accessories with affordable prices. Open seven days a week.

Churchill’s Garden Center
photo by melissa boulanger

Serendipity Boutique is sizzling hot these days. You’ll find figure-flattering tops, playful skirts and flirty dresses along with shoes, handbags, earrings, scarves and whatever else you need to feel beautiful. This darling shop also has sweet gifts, which makes for happy customers on a time budget. The note cards from Curly Girl Design will have you laughing out loud. Feel assured you’ll find great customer service and an outfit that rocks.

Renew your passport; you’ll be ready for a wild adventure after shopping at Travel & Nature. Here you’ll find great travel clothes (Horny Toad, Patagonia), including what may be the fastest-drying underwear (tanks and briefs) from ExOfficio. Look for international maps (geared to bikers, walkers and hikers), camping gear, sleeping bags, backpacks, footwear and more.

Denimrack is a jean candy store for trendy guys and gals, offering hundreds of different styles of jeans that flatter (DL 1961 offers four-way stretch) and feel good on just about everyone. It’s all about great customer service and their ability to patiently feed dressing rooms one pair of jeans after another. You’ll find great tops (Last Tango) and jackets from Jack and BB Dakota. The couple who owns the shop used to call it Ablaze, but decided a name change to match their sister store, Denimrack in Portsmouth.

Soft, pretty, lacy things all belong in the top drawer for easy reach and Top Drawer in Exeter has all you need to fill it up. Specializing in D-K cups (and I’m not talking coffee here). Look for lovely bridal lingerie (Arianne and KayAnna) and a nice assortment of figure-flattering wear. including Spanx and Body Hush (tip: you wear over the bra). Terrific customer service is why this store is celebrating 10 years on Water Street.

LunaChics is where to go if you just got a text from the one you’ve been waiting to hear from and you’ve got a date in an hour. Here you’ll find jeans, tops, accessories (great belts with beaded buckles), leggings (Lysse), handbags and more.  More importantly is your new BFF, Madge, who is at her sewing machine in the back of the store ready to hem your pants. You’ll find a team effort here to serve you.

P.S. If you’re looking for a culinary experience, try Blue Moon Evolution (caters to the raw foodies, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and the conscientious carnivore), which offers superior service, a great vibe and a lovely martini.

P.P.S. So sorry about that song that is now stuck in your head (chuckle). 

Categories: Features