If you love small shops with fine merchandise, you'll find paradise in Nantucket Town. Just as the island's old-time sea captains traveled the world and brought home exotic wares of distant ports, today's shopkeepers import the best from all over, without neglecting the quality items produced right here on the island.
You'll find everything from gold jewelry and pearls to beautiful hand-woven shawls and the lightship baskets for which Nantucket is famous.
Most of the shops listed below are open all year; we'll let you know when hours are seasonal.
11 S. Water St
Claire Murray's handmade rugs, both finished pieces and kits, fall into a unique class of artwork. Beautiful, colorful, and cheerful, some patterns are simple enough for beginners, others are a challenge to accomplished rug makers, but all are visually exquisite. You can buy a finished rug for $70 to $3,000, and kits average about $130 each. Needlepoint and counted cross-stitch kits, gift items, and cotton throws are also available. Classes are offered with a purchase. Also check out Claire Murray's beautifully illustrated book; it's a wonderful gift.
1 Courtyard, Straight Wharf
How many shops get letters from dogs? Owners Barbara and Ralph Maffei readily comply with orders from pooches all over the country requesting mail-order doggy snacks. This shop has everything for the canines in your life and gifts for felines too! Those much-in-demand homemade dog biscuits come in an assortment of flavors, shapes, and sizes, and contain no salt, sugar, or soy. The shop stocks other healthy pet foods as well. The Maffeis, who also have a shop in Boston, cram a lot into this small shop, including dog clothing, greeting cards, pillows, and collars with matching human belts. Cold Noses will definitely warm your heart.
Cross Rip Outfitters
24 Easy St.
If there's an angler on your gift list, be sure to stop here. In addition to rods and reels, this shop has a great collection of fishing-related gifts, including beautiful painted mugs, ties, jewelry, hats, shirts, sunglasses, and even stationery. Cross Rip also offers fly-fishing instruction, equipment rentals, and a guide service.
Diana Kim England, Goldsmiths
56 Main St
Seven goldsmiths contribute to the elegant handmade jewelry sold here, all of which is produced in the studio upstairs, including earrings, pendants, and bracelets in ivory and 14- to 18-karat gold. Among the most popular pieces are the gold lightship basket pendants with scrimshaw. Prices here range from about $70 to $2,400. The shop is open year-round.
Erica Wilson Needle Works
25 Main St
This store has lovely original gifts, including quilts and hand-knit sweaters from England and Ireland, contemporary women's petite and children's clothing, and European specialty silk shoes. Erica Wilson Needle Works also displays locally crafted jewelry, Nantucket Baskets, and special Nantucket china. Unique needlepoint kits ranging in price from $20 to $1,200 (for a rug) work into patterns adapted from famous tapestries and original designs.
Flowers at the Boarding House
12 Federal St
The sweet fragrance of flowers envelops you as soon as you step into this florist/gift shop. Every nook and cranny is filled with lovely things, including potpourri, fancy pillows, and soaps. This is a great place to shop for that perfect wedding or shower gift--or treat yourself! The small ceramic Nantucket tote bag is a perfect memento, but don't limit yourself to the gift shop. We once received a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers from the adjoining florist shop that made our little bed and breakfast room both fragrant and homey. The florist shop offers a vast selection of topiary and fresh flowers and offers worldwide flower delivery.
42 Main St.
This visually enticing boutique carries unique clothing for women and children, plus some wonderful gift items including gorgeous pottery, jewelry, and lifelike stuffed cats and dogs. In the rear of the shop are shelves and shelves of colorful linens, woven pillows and blankets, and beautiful hatboxes.
31 Main St.
This is the place to go to buy a newspaper--just about any newspaper. The Hub also sells magazines, books, lottery tickets, post cards and sundries, and offers photocopy and fax service. As its name implies, it's generally a lively place, great for chatting with perfect strangers.
7 Cambridge St
While you're in the childlike, carefree mood that Nantucket inevitably inspires, why not pick up a great kite and head for a sandy beach? The Kiteman (a.k.a. Al Hartig) sells a huge selection of Valkyrie and Ace kites to a high-flying clientele.
The Lion's Paw
0 Main St.
Baskets, pillows, hooked rugs, linens and boldly colorful ceramics make up the bulk of inventory in this delightful, spacious store. There is a terrific selection of tablecloths and also beautiful hand-painted furniture and accessories and unique gift items.
Mitchell's Book Corner
54 Main St.
If you love books, you won't be able to resist this corner shop. The Nantucket Room is especially engrossing, with the island's most complete offering of books about Nantucket, whaling, marine history, boating, and nature. Choose from such titles as Nathaniel Philbrick's Away Off Shore, deservedly touted as one of the most readable Nantucket histories, Death in Rough Water by Francine Matthews, Martha Lawrence's Lightship Baskets, and John McCalley's Nantucket Then and Now. Mitchell's also has a great general inventory and a large selection of quality children's books.
62 Main St.
Family-owned and operated, Murray's celebrated its 55th birthday in 2000. There is a reason for its longevity: It's got everything. You'll find shoes, sweaters, hats, and Estee Lauder products, and it is the largest men's clothing store on Main Street. Started by Philip Murray, the popular Nantucket Red menswear line originated here from a type of slacks made in France. It has now expanded to Oxford shirts, coats, jackets, sweatshirts and caps for women as well as men.
25 Broad St.
This year-round store not only has a wonderful collection of books and plenty of room to browse, but a fun assortment of greeting cards, stationery, blank books, and other gifts for writers. It has a great children's section, and gifts for all ages are scattered throughout the store. Even the cash register receipts are fun, each with an interesting quote from notable literary figures. In business 25 years, Nantucket Bookworks keeps long hours, so you can browse after dinner!
38 Centre St.
"I only buy things I would put in my own home," says Cam Dutton, who opened this two-story antiques shop in April 1996. Chock full of one-of-a-kind pieces, from a Passier hunt saddle to a lovely 18th-century tilt-top tavern table, the shop specializes in old quilts and folk antiques. It has a few new items as well, such as hooked rugs and country accent pieces. It's open year-round, but weekends only in the quiet off-season.
4 India St.
This store has everything for the true or aspiring gourmet, from Nantucket-made jams and jellies to mustards, cranberry marmalade, vinegars, and teas. The pepper gun, an unusual one-handed grinder invented by Tom David of Nantucket, is particularly popular. The shop also has a full deli with more than 40 types of cheeses and other edibles for party platters and picnic lunches.
Bill and Judy Sayle's Nantucket Lightship Baskets
112 Washington St. Ext.
Beautiful, practical, versatile--and undeniably expensive--the traditional Nantucket lightship baskets that are exquisitely handmade by Bill and Judy Sayle range in size from miniatures as small as a thimble to ones as big as a baby's cradle. Woven with a fine caning material, the baskets are made with a cherry wood bottom, oak stays, oak handles, and leather hinges, and the lids are decorated with carved ivory or scrimshaw scenes. Both Bill and Judy create the baskets, and Bill hand carves the decorative whales, shells, or birds in ivory. (It was Bill's mother, Mickey, who first suggested putting a lid on the traditional lightship basket and his father, Charlie, who carved the first decoration on a basket made in 1948 by Jose Reyes.)
The prices vary according to size, the type of wood used for the tops, and the type of decoration. Miniature baskets can range in price from $195 to $525, and medium-sized covered baskets with a carved sperm whale on the lid can start at around $775. The Sayles' shop is open weekdays from 10 AM to 3 PM and weekends by appointment year-round (unless they take a winter break after the holidays).
16 Main St
Nantucket Looms displays beautiful hand-woven throws, mufflers, and shirts and small elegant toiletries, jewelry, and oversize mugs. Local and international craftsmen have contributed to this rich assortment of clothing and gift items, including decorative birdhouses and dog doorstops, handmade sweaters, and hand-painted furniture. Their cotton fishermen's sweaters are classics.
Nantucket Natural Oils
5 Centre St
(508) 325-4740, (800) 223-8660 (fax also)
Formerly known as The Fragrance Bar, this incredible shop will open your eyes--not to mention your nose--to a whole new world of fragrance. Perfumer John Harding has any name brand scent you can think of, but with an important difference: There is no alcohol or other additives. These are essential oils, so they have amazing staying power, and can even be used by most people who find conventional perfumes give them a headache or make them sneeze. And these oils last and last--we can tell you from personal experience that a tiny bottle can easily last a year. But you'll want to come back long before that, because a visit to Nantucket Natural Oils is an unforgettable olfactory experience. The shop also carries lotions, bath gels, shampoos, and soaps that can be scented, along with lovely perfume bottles and other accessories. You can also get aromatherapy oils by Peter Holmes. Nantucket Natural Oils is open year-round--Harding says he has to be, to keep customers supplied with all the latest scents--and also does mail order.
The Nantucket Sleigh Ride
3 India St
With ivy growing across the front of the building, this shop is as pretty outside as in. It carries Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments, which collectors consider the ultimate in glass, as well as other Christmas collectibles by Miriam Mandell and Ginny Moore and copies of 19th-century candle molds. Although the Nutcracker is usually a male figure (had you ever thought about that?), here you can get a female Christmas Nutcracker.
48 Centre St.
Here is a wonderful collection of marine antiques--everything from old anchors, tools, and ship lanterns to intricate ship models and ships in bottles. The shop also has a great collection of old scrimshaw, prints, Nantucket memorabilia, and a great collection of old books on whaling, sailing, and other nautical topics. It's open from Daffodil Weekend to Christmas.
4A South Water St.
This delightful shop specializes in fine stationery, handmade paper, wedding invitations, and all things paper! This is the place to go to wrap those gifts you're bringing home! It has a wonderful assortment of rubber stamps--great gifts for all ages--along with pens, leather boxes, journals, and other things that seem like luxuries in this age of computers.
It's open year-round.
Parham's Gems of the Sea
9A South Beach St.
There's nothing quite like pearls, and this shop has so many different varieties you may have a hard time pulling yourself away. You'll find black pearls, pink pearls, grey pearls--all nine color varieties of cultivated pearl, plus freshwater pearls. While you're here, ask questions; these folks are experts! Parham's is open Memorial Day to Columbus Day, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas Stroll weekends.
10 Straight Wharf
This distinctly feminine shop, scented with heavenly potpourri and soaps, is filled with beautiful things, including hand-painted furniture, unique picture frames, journals, bath salts, linens, and other accessories. Take your time browsing here--it's sure to leave you in a serene state of mind. Rosa Ragusa is open April through October, plus during Christmas Stroll.
26 Centre St.
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. Those who love the stuff will find a haven in Sweet Inspirations, where the glass-front display cases are filled with plates of all sorts of positively inspired creations. Try one of their heavenly truffles, chocolate buttercrunch, chocolate-covered cranberries or, our personal favorite, a simple square of dark chocolate wrapped in foil embossed with a tiny Nantucket Island. Sweet Inspirations has lovely collectible tins to fill with the chocolates of your choice, and they do mail order too.
14 Centre St.
A new and beautiful take on the Nantucket Lightship basket is a line of porcelain baskets designed by George Davis, manufactured by Bennington Potters, and sold exclusively through Weeds on Nantucket. Davis, founder and owner of Weeds, also has a beautiful collection of fine bone china, which he designed for Wedgwood, is sold worldwide, and is available exclusively on Nantucket at the shop he launched more than a twelve years ago. Of course there's a lot more to see than dinnerware in this year-round shop, which sells antique and reproduction furniture, hatboxes, tins, garden items, and gifts to fit every price range.
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