Shore 2009: Shopping

From shell soaps to sundresses: What to buy and where to buy it

For gifts At Cape May’s Nest, you can snag handmade clocks, Anne Taintor cards and pretty vintage-bead jewelry. Then scoot over to Bath Time, where you mix and match fragrances for personalized lotions, or choose from more than 400 Cape May Blends soaps. The Paper Chase on Ventor Avenue in Margate also has beautiful stationery and gifties, and if you want to bring back the best of the beach, stop by Stone Harbor’s Sunday farmers’ market for Jersey-grown produce before you head home, or West Cape May’s Duckies Farm Market, a one-stop shop for just-picked fruits and veggies and homemade pies, jams and salad dressings. (Nest, 503 Lafayette Street, Cape May, 609-884-6374; Bath Time, 223 Jackson Street, Cape May, 609-884-9234; Paper Chase, 8000 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-4583; Stone Harbor’s farmers’ market, 95th Street, 609-368-5102;
Duckies Farm Market, 736 Broadway, West Cape May, 609-898-9191)

For Shore-house decor Great tchotchke shops, shelter stores and art galleries are everywhere. (Love, love Island Art in Stone Harbor for beach scenes.) Be sure not to miss high-end home-and-gift shop Wyndecrest Home in Beach Haven, with Shore schemes and casual cottage wares that are kitsch-free, or Ocean City’s cute little antiques/folk art shop, Gingham Whale. (Island Art, 9501 3rd Avenue, Stone Harbor, 609-368-9540; Wyndecrest Home, 233 2nd Street, Beach Haven, 609-492-7030; Gingham Whale, 636 Asbury Avenue, Ocean City, 609-391-0996)

For play clothes When the good folks at Wildwood’s Shore Couture promise you can design your own tees, they’re not talking about those air-brushed flamingos or whatever that are practically an epidemic on the Boardwalk. They mean hand-picked designs printed on a tee of your choice. And don’t forget the requisite trip to Jamaican Me Crazy — with stores in Margate and Sea Isle — for oversized fluffy sweatshirts with MARGATE or LONGPORT or SEA ISLE CITY stitched on them. And should a chilly night befall you, try one of the many Breezin’ Up locations (Beach Haven, Stone Harbor, Ocean City) for cozy sweats you’ll wear all year long. (Shore Couture, 610 New Jersey Avenue, North Wildwood, 609-729-2113;
Jamaican Me Crazy, 4204 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City, 609-263-0330, and 9413 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-8400; Breezin’ Up, Multiple locations in Beach Haven, Stone Harbor and Ocean City)

For fashion Margate brings out the charge card in all of us with places like Marielena (for fashion mavens of a certain age) and the Shore outpost of Philly’s high-fashion haven Knit Wit. Cameo Water Wear sells a range of bathing suits and cover-ups for the caftan set; Kidrageous is where their kids (and grandkids) get their summer duds. In Stone Harbor, Moxie Boutique stocks women’s clothes and jewelry that are part earthy, part edgy, while Ocean City’s The Islander does dresses (lots of Free People stuff) and flip-flops that are beachy enough for the Boardwalk and perfectly suitable for Main Line barbecues. Of course, there’s also the smattering of boutiques that have popped up in Avalon over the past few years, all in a cluster around 21st Street: cute Pale Moon; trendy Closet Boutique; Tiger Lily, with summery jersey dresses galore; and the chichi (think Tory Burch) Bellissima and Ciao Bella (Marielena 9313 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-4067; Knit Wit, 8001 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-9442; Cameo Water Wear, 9319 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-822-5230; Kidrageous, 8009 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-0488; Moxie Boutique, 306 96th Street, Stone Harbor, 609-368-2150; The Islander, 920 Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-398-3069; Pale Moon Boutique, 2170 Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-368-1227; Ciao Bella, 268 21st Street, Avalon, 609-967-3343)

For souvenirs Pop into just about any gift shop and you’ll see that it’s all about the beach bumper stickers — “Exit 63” for LBI, “Exit Zero” for Cape May, and so on. (And in fact, Exit Zero, the store on Perry Street inside Cape May’s grand old Congress Hall, sells framed maps, books, stickers and prints.) If Wildwood’s your spot, pick up a little replica tramcar (complete with the “Watch the Tramcar” voice at the touch of a button) at gift shops like Al’s Gifts on the Boardwalk. Or hit up Neptune’s Jewels in Stone Harbor for the popular tin replica of the “Smile! You’re in Sea Isle City” water tower, or Margate’s East End Gallery for great old retro prints, poster repros and photos of old seashore scenes. (Exit Zero Perry Street inside Congress Hall, Cape May, 609-884-1125; Al’s Gifts, 3306 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-729-6906; Neptune’s Jewels, 235 96th Street, Stone Harbor, 609-368-5588; East End Gallery, 7817 Ventnor Avenue, Margate, 609-487-9293)