February 21, 2012
Travel / New England / 48 Hours in Northampton: Shopping

Northampton – Shop

I spent my twenties in Northampton, MA and returned to the Happy Valley for a 48 hour whirlwind visit. Here’s my shopping list. For a list of Northampton restaurants, click here. For fun things to do, click here.

Cathy Cross is at the top of her game after 25 years and, easily, the best women’s store in town. She’s home to a coterie of designer lines like Theory, Cynthia Vincent, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rebecca Taylor, Hartford and Vince, buffeted by brands that aren’t quite so dear. I drooled over newcomer Kite and Butterfly hippy dresses, Tucker silk blouses and Lauren Moffat shifts. Racks of Free People, Ella Moss tees and a well-edited selection of tried-and-true jeans (J. Brand and Citizens of Humanity) round out the shop. Cathy is an old school retailer: she’s on the floor, knows her customers by name, has a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and a keen editor’s eye. Pretty much loved everything and, you know me, that’s a rare thing.

Newcomer Ode, leans slightly younger than Cathy Cross and the brick walls, reclaimed floors and architectural elements provide a hip backdrop for collections by BCBG, Isda, Rory Becca, Graham and Spencer and Sanctuary. A strong destination for dresses and accessories (including my current favorite handmade bag line, (49 Square Miles) and the town’s only purveyor of the super stretchy Second Yoga Jean line, it’s a good stop for the fashion forward.

Joia Beauty has been providing botanical and organic skin care products and holistic facials to the Valley for many years and the sweet-smelling shop on Crafts Ave. (around the corner from Thorne’s) is a must stop for unusual local and European lines. The owner is commited to carrying products that are environmentally friendly, fair trade and never tested on animals. But the fascinating selection goes well beyond that criteria. I fell in love with Profumi di Firenze (inspired by the original 16th century secret formulas commissioned by Caterina de Medici), Kneipp Herbal Baths (Valerian and Hops for a good night’s sleep or Spruce and Pine for warmth and energy) and left with a bag full of practically edible calendula, sage and anise organic soaps from local purveyor Dancing Bare.

Contemporary jewelry designer, Rebekah Brooks’ company is based in nearby Hadley, MA, and, while she sells over 250 boutiques across the country, the flagship store is in Thorne’s Market. Here you’ll find her winsome collection of handmade earrings, necklaces and bracelets, fashioned from sterling silver, gold, vermeil, precious and semi-precious stones. Natural elements, charms and vintage pieces imbue the designs and if you can’t make it to Northampton, you can shop her collection online.

I love to visit art supply stores for no good reason other than a whiff of paint and a new sketchbook, but in the case of Guild Art Supply, I was so glad I did. It’s also the home of Big Wheel Press, a trove of witty letterpress cards and posters handmade on premises. Visit their Etsy store to get an idea, but the selection in-house is better.

For upcycled, furniture mash-ups head to Sticks and Bricks on Market Street. Here you’ll find reconstructed and one-of-a-kind tables, dressers, media consoles, desks and home decor with a bit of jewelry and wall art thrown in. The adorable owners repurpose vintage pieces in whacky and ingenious ways and it’s all charming.

A store like Provisions was sorely missing when I lived in Northampton; a one-stop shop for a curated wine selection, craft beers, local cheese, cured meats from Heritage breeds and tempting gourmet foods. The enthusiastic owner aims to please, even providing an employee to carry a case of wine several blocks to my car. In the rain. Just lovely.



 If I was a hipster I’d shop here for high-top yellow Reeboks, super cool Fjall Raven Swedish backpacks and Native duckboots. Sadly, I’m not. Shop online:

Every college town needs a good vintage shop and this one is outstanding. (Thorne’s Market). No description necessary.

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