Thanks to the careful gardening of its "fiercely independent" local owners, Bank Square Books' shelves teem with all manner of pencraft, mingling best-selling fiction and nonfiction with lesser-known novels as well as the most expansive assemblage of children’s books in the area. Guests can nestle into cozy seats and browse the adventures of ex-Navy SEAL Max Moore and his wise-cracking sock puppet in Tom Clancy’s best-selling Against All Enemies ($28.95) or feast eyes on the bookery's numerous staff picks. Tyler recommends The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet ($15, paperback), which follows a young Dutch clerk as he navigates the dangerous political intrigues of samurai-era Japan's sole port to the outside world. Annie, meanwhile, loves Kristin Kimball’s The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love ($15, paperback), which chronicles one woman’s flight from New York City to start a farm in the North Country. Henry Kissinger's negotiation strategies in On China ($36) will prove invaluable to recreational diplomats who are tired of navigating the land mines in their feuding roommates' DMZ.
Pennywise freshens up the wardrobes of ladies, gents, and juniors with threads from name brands, such as Abercrombie & Fitch and Ann Taylor, and designer duds from the fashion houses of Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Tahari, and Nanette Lepore. Treat stems to the cottony caress of name-brand denim ($20–$85). A kaleidoscope of tops and sweaters ($3–$65) saves upper halves the trouble of trying to wriggle into burlap sacks every morning. Adorn yourself in one-of-a-kind retro jewelry ($4+) that adds a touch of vintage glamour to modern life vessels. Pennywise's inventory changes daily and the downtown location also stocks garments for wee ones. Visitors to the fashion hub can gossip about Garfield's horrible taste in formalwear with Steve Madden, Pennywise's cat mascot.
The talented gemnasts at Northern Light Gems ornament customers with custom designs and name-brand jewelry and watches. Gaze into the oceanic depths of the natural labradorite stone at the center of a Baroni ring ($120). Adorn lobes with a set of sterling-silver earrings ($15) or draw attention to a fresh tattoo sleeve with a bracelet of delicate sterling-silver beads ($75). The shop's artisans also work with customers to forge one-of-a-kind pieces that match their specifications for shape, price, metal, gem, and edibility. Browse the abundant assortment of baubles within Northern Light Gems' spacious, warmly lit storefront, stopping to marvel at ornate estate and antique pieces, or coo over charms reflecting the area's heritage in the form of tiny moveable bridges and outlines of Niantic Bay.
By answering any and all questions about their erotic wares, the staffers at Amazing Intimate Essentials have helped promote safe and sensual trysts for more than 40 years. Their selection of massage oils, lubricants, and adult toys—which occupies stores spread throughout the Northeast and Texas—contains goods from such established brands as We-Vibe, Jimmyjane, and K-Y. They staff female-friendly merchandise, as well as products that help couples create more sparks in the bedroom than a master metalworker soldering a "do not disturb" sign to the door. The staff stresses openness and acceptance in regards to romantic endeavors, an attitude that also fuels their unwavering support of the LGBT community.
The Blue Horse has been a Downtown Mystic institution for over forty years. Combining her academic background in fashion and textiles with her love for the local community, owner Margaret Macris bought The Blue Horse in 1992 when her youngest son started kindergarten. Since then she has dressed generations of children and