It is time to get serious about finalizing holiday shopping. The holidays came on fast this year (maybe every year), and merchants are going all out with a variety of gift options in our area’s downtowns, including Montpelier, Barre, and Waterbury.
Montpelier (my hometown) is especially nice to shop in because it feels traditional and yet new. City hall has taken steps to fix the vintage street lamps, wrapped in evergreen boughs and accented with wreaths. Other towns shimmer with holiday spirit as well. Barre is a treat for all the special and festive items you can find, while Waterbury is an amalgam of old and new — traditional and cutting edge — awash with gallons and gallons of beer. I also usually touch base at local farm stores, such as Morse Farm
and Bragg Farm
in East Montpelier, and Roots
in Middlesex for some locally made treats, trees, wreaths, and decorations.
Montpelier kicks off the holiday shopping season with Flannel Friday, but if you didn’t get everything on that day, there is still time for some last-minute shopping. My first go-to is usually Bear Pond Books
(books, socks, cards, Vermont-themed guides), followed by Capital Stationers
(Vermont-made hats, socks, calendars and candy). I also hit Langdon Street for Onion River Outdoors
(this year: SOCKS!!!), Roam
(shoes and accessories), The Getup Vintage,
and Buch Spieler.
Just around the corner is Cheshire Cat
— a fave fashion place for one of my coworkers, who is always stylishly draped in clothes from there.
While it may be impossible to name all the wonderful shops in Montpelier, I would also check out the following shops on State Street:
(soon to relocate to Main Street next to Capital Cannabis), The Book Garden
(Vermont books, other books, esoterica, art, Magic cards, etc.), Delish
(delicious chocolate and candy), Rebel Heart, Althea’s Attic, Minikin
(beautiful imported dolls, toys, and clothes), Capital Kitchen
(dishes, cooking supplies, and linens), Cool Jewels
(I got my favorite crystal ball and amethyst pendulum here), and The Quirky Pet
(quality pet items).
Also, children of all ages love Woodbury Mountain Toys.
While they have EVERYTHING fun, I personally like their realistic plush animal puppets (I use them when reading with my students). I also like the science-y stuff. If I didn’t name a particular store, I am sure you will see others when you are out and about, such as those on Main Street (Antiques at 110 Main, Aubuchon Hardware, Bailey Road, Splash Naturals, Capital Cannabis, Notion, Zutano,
etc.) Also, tons of gifts and goodies can be found at Hunger Mountain Co-op.
And heading out of town toward Barre, you can stop in at Slopeside Ski & Ride
for sports gear and winter attire. Also, don’t forget restaurant, bakery, and coffee shop gift cards. Montpelier is renowned for all things that excite the olfactory and tickle the tongue.
Barre had the honor of kicking off the holiday shopping season by hosting the 2022 Ski and Skate sale at the Aud on Dec. 3, but the town is still bustling with festivities right up to the big day. My go-to holiday shopping places are Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel
(winter stuff, slippers, boots), Boisvert’s Shoe Repair
(Birkenstocks, slippers, handbags, wallets), Next Chapter Book Store
(books), Nelson’s Hardware
(decorations, tools, gifts), AR Market
(fancy locally made meats, cheeses, wines, and beer), and the Vermont Bicycle Shop. Thygesen’s Sports
not only sharpens ice skate blades for a small fee, but also carries items for most team sports and individual sports you can think of, from figure and hockey skates to baseball equipment to field hockey, lacrosse, and more. Again, food gift certificates are another fine idea. Barre also has its own style of delicious restaurants, bakeries, and coffee shops.
And Waterbury — gateway to Stowe to the north and the Mad River Valley to the south — has a charming historic downtown with wonderful shops including Bridgeside Books
(books, puzzles, games), Stowe Street Emporium
(unique gifts), and Axel’s Gallery and Frame Shop
(art and framing). The downtown area takes you back in time with an old-fashioned brick center brimming with inviting eateries from one of the area’s best bagel shops to several wicked popular breweries. The Yarn
shop can be found on Main Street along with Home Again
and Waterbury Sports.
Up the road, on Route 100, are the more famous shops including Ben and Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese Farmer’s
store, Danforth Pewter,
and Lake Champlain Chocolates.
In short, heading to our historic downtown areas and satellite shops for last-minute gift items is a sweet holiday tradition for those who have lived here awhile, and the beginning of a new tradition for those just arriving. People seeking cozy wearables, chocolate, baked goods, sports gear, locally made items, books, trail maps, and restaurant gift certificates won’t be disappointed.
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