Delivering the goods

Kitsch to chic, a shoppers’ haven

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By Nicole Cammorata
Globe Staff / June 13, 2010

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Sure, the island is known for beautiful beaches, scenic bike paths, its rich seafaring history, the oh-so-occasional celebrity sighting (Meg Ryan just bought a house here), and fresh seafood.

But give me a weekend here and it’s the shopping I can’t stop raving about. From the precious boutiques of Edgartown to Bunch of Grapes bookstore in Vineyard Haven, there is something for everyone. Whether you are visiting for the first time, or have been to Vineyard Vines and the Black Dog dozens of times, you may be surprised by what you find.


Mix True to its name, Mix is a quirky, fun collection of old and new. There are vintage cameras, typewriters, matchbooks, and clothing. Sassy baby T-shirts with sayings like “Future Big Tipper’’ and “I’m a Keeper’’ are nestled next to a smattering of curiosities, including toys, vintage classroom science posters, and more. I bought a midcentury camera called a Rocket in perfect working order. 4 Union St., 508-693-8240

Bunch of Grapes Find the “Time to Read’’ street clock and you’re in the right place. A devastating fire in 2008 wiped out the store and its inventory (“The town has lost its water cooler’’ was a common sentiment at the time). The rebuilt shop, which is under new ownership, has oak bookcases filled to the brim with everything from new releases and the hottest beach reads to classics and nonfiction. Upstairs is the children’s section, where every Saturday morning at 10:30 is story time. Scattered throughout is seating for bibliophiles to peruse their finds. “People say to us, ‘I get off the boat and I come straight here,’ ’’ says owner Dawn Braasch. Me, too. 44 Main St., 508-693-2291,

Rainy Day This place is perfect, too, for a sunny day, when you feel like exercising your credit card. Peruse unique greeting cards, nautical ephemera, boutique toiletries and lotions, crisp-looking dishes and other housewares, and a great selection of children’s toys. 66 Main St., 508-693-1830,

Midnight Farm Drool-worthy accoutrements for the home, coffee table books, clothes, gorgeous beach hats, and straw fedoras make this boutique (co-owned by Carly Simon) a must-see, if only to ogle the beautiful merchandise and daydream about buying a house on the island just so you can furnish it with the couches, bed frames, and throw pillows inside. 18 Water-Cromwell Lane, 508-693-1997,


Katydid Owner Kate Walpole packs a lot into a small space. There are bright baubles stacked by the door: enamel bracelets, dangly gold earrings flecked with turquoise and coral, rings, and more. “I tell people if they keep coming back, there’s something different to look at every time,’’ Walpole says. The clothes and accessories here are ideal for teens and more mature shoppers — a place where mom and daughter can shop together. I couldn’t take my eyes off the Roberta Roller Rabbit canvas totes, Orla Kiely bags, and gorgeous, jewel-toned tunics. I bought two pairs of those dangly earrings for myself. 38 Main St., 508-627-1232

Jack Wills Think Abercrombie & Fitch meets Ben Sherman with a bit of J. Crew thrown in for good measure. British import Jack Wills, also on Nantucket and Boston’s Newbury Street, calls itself a “university outfitter.’’ The retailer’s teen and 20-something clothes range from cute floral dresses, cardigans, blazers, and bikinis for the girls to rugby and polo shirts, cotton poplin shorts perfect for a day on the island, and slim leg jeans for the guys. Expect to hear a British accent above the din of pulsing music; the staff was flown in from across the pond to jump-start their flagships in this country. 1 South Water St., 508-939-4371,

Sundog The dapper gentleman can shop here to the sound of Irish music (or at least, he could when I was there). The 30-year-old family business carries a combination of men’s dress shirts, shoes, hats, and plaid shorts galore. Kitschy objects decorate the store. An old MBTA bus sign from Harvard Square hangs on the second floor, a shrunken sweater serves as a cautionary tale behind the sale counter, and postcards sent from around the world to the owners, the Folts family, encircle the staircase. 41 Main St., 508-627-5254


Alley’s General Store An island landmark since 1858, it’s not uncommon to find locals congregating on the porch swing, sipping coffee and watching the cars go by. A bit off the beaten path, this old-timer is open year-round and well worth a visit. Alley’s combines funky kitchen wares (I bought baby blue, fish-shaped salt and pepper shakers), toys, and funky gifts with everyday necessities. Tucked behind the groceries are shelves of penny candy, sure to keep the children happy. Keep an eye out for John Alley, whose family used to own the store, sorting the mail. 1045 State Road, 508-693-0088


B Tru The vibe here is biker chick meets LA rock star, but with a heart of gold. In fact, the motorcycle parts on the wall belonged to owner Dulcie Rutherford’s dad. Rutherford opened the store in 2001 because she felt a certain aesthetic was missing from the island. “Affordable and trendy but not so stuffy,’’ Rutherford says of her shop, which carries labels like Free People, Hard Tail, and LA Made. Look for funky belt buckles, wedge sandals, and sunglasses. If it’s lacy unmentionables you’re after, Rutherford’s lingerie store, Knickers, is a must stop just up the road. 40 Circuit Ave., 508-693-5222,

Basics “We carry infant to size 44 men’s all in 1,100 square feet,’’ says co-owner Erin Tiernan of her store, which caters to the everyday clothing needs of residents and tourists. Open year-round, this is where you find reasonably priced . . . basics: simple button-downs, colorful clothes for children, casual wear, shoes, and Crocs. “I could run a store on Crocs alone,’’ Tiernan says. Look for Basics’ sister store, the trendier Eastaway, a couple of storefronts away. 24 Circuit Ave., 508-693-8819

Good Dog Goods There are collars emblazoned with lobsters and sailboats, organic treats, kitschy decorations, books, and magazines here. The store is a little kooky — there’s a table of canine-themed wine stoppers and figurines of dogs dressed as golfers, gardeners, and fishermen — so if you had to leave Fido back home, stop in and pick him up a souvenir. 79 Circuit Ave., 508-696-7100,

Nicole Cammorata can be reached at