Downtown Concord pulls off the trick of being both timeless and timely. Main Street mixes the nostalgia of old facades and familiar landmarks with glowing neon from new theaters and aromas from boutique coffee shops.
Shopping on Concord’s central thoroughfare offers a similarly rare combination – buying local with a wide variety of choices. Nearly every store on Main Street is independently owned, and as a group they could handle most of your holiday shopping needs. You can find handcrafted goods from local artisans, handmade candy from local institutions or hand-selected books from local curators. You can also pick up gifts that are sustainable, or living, or intoxicating.
Main Street has so many stores it’s definitely worth your shopping time to stroll the wide sidewalks and peek at them all, but here are a few of my personal favorites to get you started.
This is the 10th year owner Alison Murphy has been offering local artists a place to sell their wares in her pop-up holiday shop. About half of the 65 New England artists with goods in the store are from New Hampshire and about a third of those are from the Concord area. There are best-selling favorites like the upcycled earrings from Heidi Kind Finds, beeswax candles from hive & home and ocean resin art from Kathryn Dziadowicz, and, as always, Murphy has included new artists.
“People have said long-term craft fair,” Murphy said when asked to describe the store’s aesthetic, “or in-person Etsy. That’s my favorite.”
This year’s shop popped up in the same space it occupied last year at 20 South Main Street, but the heat in that building stopped working so Murphy had to move everything to an open space in Capital Plaza off School Street less than a block from Main.
This Main Street staple can fill all kinds of holes in your holiday shopping list with its selection of games, calendars, cards, knick-knacks and, of course, books. The staff’s book recommendations and display tables are a great place to start looking, and if you can’t find anything there, the rest of the store is well organized and marked by genre. Page-turning treasures can also be found in the used section and on the sale tables.
The locally owned store is spacious and has multiple entrances, so it’s easier to stay socially distant while shopping at Gibson’s than many other stores. Holiday hours are scheduled to be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays, but check the website for any potential changes before going. The site also shows some of what you can see on the store’s display tables, and it has all of the books in stock or available to order. But if you do shop in-person at the 45 North Main St. location, you really should check out those quirky card games and wacky magnets.
Bona Fide Green Goods
Do a nice thing for someone and for the environment when you buy a gift from this eco-friendly boutique at 25 North Main St. The owners make sure all of their products are good for the Earth and for your body so you don’t have to do homework with each purchase, and these green products are also affordable. The store is full of great gifts like lavender eye pillows, handmade organic baby bibs, upcycled wallets and bags, and a hot sauce that comes in a grenade-shaped container. They also have health and beauty items like toothpaste and beard oil; home goods like reusable UNpapertowels and silicone plastic bags; and tons of items from N.H.-based companies.
You can book a personal shopping appointment at the store on Sundays between 4-6 p.m. for up to five people by calling 224-9700 or visiting bonafidegreengoods.com. You can also shop on the website, which is easy to navigate and thorough in its descriptions, and you can pick up online orders in the store or curbside. If you want an item sent somewhere else it will be packaged using repurposed shipping materials.
Granite State Candy Shoppe
Handmade candy makes for a great gift – a small decadence you might not buy for yourself but will happily take. Plus, it’s a present you know won’t become unused clutter. Honestly, candy from Granite State probably won’t make it until the New Year.
This “Shoppe” at 13 Warren Street has a massive selection of chocolates, candies and nuts with plenty of holiday-themed treats like chocolate-dipped candy canes, reindeer corn (candy corn in green and red), sugar plums (plum-flavored jell candies) and chocolate Star of David Hanukah pops. Seeing, and smelling, everything on display is a treat in itself, but the store can be tight during busy shopping times. With that in mind, curbside pickup is available after shopping on the website, granitestatecandyshoppe.com, and online orders of $60 or more get free ground shipping.
Wine on Main
Stop into this new store in a charming old space at 9 North Main Street to browse a selection of limited-production wines not easily accessible in New Hampshire. The inventory is always changing, but you can be sure to get an informed opinion on whatever the selection might be. You can also schedule a private shopping appointment or buy a gift card from the website, wineonmainnh.com, that will be emailed directly to the recipient. They can use it to order wines from all around the world, including numerous choices in the $15-40 range, or to book a private wine tasting. Add it all up and a gift card from Wine on Main is like a trifecta of sustainable gifting – consumable, experiential and electronically delivered.
Lilise Designer Resale
It may not seem as sustainable as a set of bamboo utensils, but buying used clothing from a consignment shop like this one is certainly eco-friendly. It can also be a lot of fun. You’ll find designer, luxury and vintage goodies at affordable prices, and there are also new items for sale. Owner Elyssa Alfieri has high-end labels like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, and, as it says on the store’s website, liliseresale.com, she’s also strived to “create an atmosphere that allows any shopper to feel comfortable and to have fun exploring.” She’s also stocked more unisex clothing this year in an effort to create a more inclusive shopping experience.
A gift from this new plant store can add some life and vibrancy to a home, which will be especially welcome as we head into a winter where most of us will be spending a lot of time at home. The plants range from a 2-inch zebra for $4 to an Audrey ficus tree for $330. Even if someone has no experience with plants, chances are they can care for a plant from Penumbra since the store’s aesthetic, as it says on its website (penumbra.shop), is, “plants we can’t kill.” There are other gift items like jewelry, soap, candles, stickers and pins, and the store is planning a huge holiday window display. There will be a scavenger hunt inside the display, which will wrap around all the windows at Penumbra’s corner location at 10 North State Street.
Here are seven more downtown Concord stores that great holiday shopping destinations: League of NH Craftsmen, Things Are Cooking, Concord Antiques, Joe King’s Shoe Shop, Pitchfork Records, Viking House, Gondwana. u