The holiday season is SO BUSY! I feel extra rushed because I need to get all of my shopping and wrapping done by the 12th this year, challenge accepted! My favorite way to shop for the holidays is by taking a day trip to Northampton, MA. This is my third year in a row heading there, and I always accomplish so much. The best part about it is that there are so many fantastic locally owned stores. It was cold and rainy so instead of looking for free parking I stowed my car away in a very affordable parking garage (1st hour free, and after that 50 cents), and took the pedestrian bridge into Thornes Marketplace, safe and warm inside.
This little mall is filled with eclectic independent stores, it’s almost impossible not to find something for someone on your holiday list here. We got here around noon so we were hungry for lunch and popped into quaint, but bustling Paul & Elizabeth’s. This place is perfect for lunch; I’ve returned every year, which is very unlike me (as I usually opt to try new places!). Their ‘quick lunch’ is extremely affordable, quite tasty, and super filling! At under $8 you get soup of the day, I had the fish chowder which was cream based and filled with chucks of fish and veggies,
a huge delicious whole wheat roll (baked daily), a big salad chock full of chickpeas/carrots/cabbage and a choice of house made dressings (I got sesame tahini – oh yeah),
and a bottomless cup of tea served with honey and lemon.
Jeff got the fish special, which was parmesan encrusted porgy (a fish we never heard of but tasted similar to salmon), and he really, really enjoyed it. The waitress was extremely accommodating and allowed him to switch his salad to a soup, and gave him a side of veggies instead of rice. He also had some sake with his meal which he loved. He needed a buzz to deal with a day of shopping! What a trooper though, I’m a lucky gal.
After our fantastic lunch we hit some of the shops! My favorites are: Cornucopia – filled with a quirky assortment of organic and healthy products perfect for chapsticks/lotions/chocolates, Acme Surplus
– funky dollar store feel, 25 Central – beautiful and unique selection of dresses and other women’s clothing at relatively affordable price, Cedar Chest (my number one!) – really great variety of home goods/toys/chachkies/anything you can think of, Noteworthy – beautiful little notebooks and accessories. After a successful spree we headed across the street to Faces, retro yet modern, full of cute clothes/accessories/home goods/and more chachkies. In past years there was an ‘art-o-matic’ in front.
You would exchange a few quarters for tokens and select a button and out would pop a little wooden rectangle with a picture. I have a lovely purple flower I got last year sitting on my bookshelf, which reminds me of a great trip! Unfortunately the machine is down at the time, but I hope they repair it because it is very unique. There are many other independent stores, coffee shops, and restaurants along the main road to pop in and out of. I always have to check the sale rack at the Urban Outfitters which is on the corner, even though this definitely isn’t local I can’t help it because I love their clothes, and this is the closest one to Albany!! Right on our route back home we conveniently hit the Lee Premium Outlets, right off i-90, to pick up a few specific items left on our list. I feel so accomplished after this day of shopping (+ my shopping spree at Northshire Bookstores in Manchester, VT) and I’m so excited to spoil my friends and family with (mainly) locally sourced gifts!