Shopping Guide: Nantucket

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I just returned home from a long weekend on Nantucket for Thanksgiving. Even though I grew up in Boston, I had somehow never been to Nantucket before this trip! The island is full of traditional Cape Cod-style houses: low, symmetrical cottages with weathered shingles or wood clapboard siding. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Nantucket prospered inordinately as the hub of the whaling industry; but by the mid-19th century, whaling was in decline and a large fire destroyed most of the island’s earliest buildings. Jethro Coffin’s house, known in typical straightforward New England style as the “Oldest House,” is Nantucket’s oldest house still standing in its original spot and one of the few structures to have survived the devastating fire. Built in 1686, this saltbox house features a distinctive horseshoe design on its central chimney.
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I spent several days poking around the little shops in Nantucket Center. As it turns out, Nantucket has a notable retail history; R.H. Macy, founder of Macy’s department store, was born on the island. It is believed that he opened his first retail store right on Nantucket’s Main Street.


The original Macy’s outfit may be a thing of the past, but there are still dozens of charming home goods stores to enjoy on today’s island. Here is my guide to shopping Nantucket:

The Lion’s Paw, 30 Main Street, is the perfect place to outfit a classic beach house. They offer a mix of new and antique furniture and a color scheme that tends towards the whites and cool blues of traditional beachside decor. They favor natural materials and accessories that help bring the beauty of Nantucket inside the home. I particularly love the navy and white striped side table with leather detailing and the antique faux bamboo armoire with mirrored doors.

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Bodega, 2 Candle Street, offers a more eclectic, contemporary take on beachside living. Their furniture has modern, clean lines. Many of the accessories, like the stacked grey china set below, have a bit of an asian influence. Bodega is a the perfect place to shop for a tailored contemporary look that doesn’t feel too fussy.

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Sylvia Antiques & Four Winds Craft Guild, 15 Main Street, is chock full of goodies straight out of Nantucket’s whaling heyday. They have a wide selection of rustic arts and crafts, from scrimshaw to bone-inlaid boxes and hand-carved whale sculptures. It’s a great place to find one-of-a-kind artwork and a piece of Americana for your home. For more information about the whale sculptures, please visit artist Jeff Raymond’s website.

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