HAPPY FEET: Limited editions and old favorites are at Cream Apparel, plus city-fied culture in a small-town shop.
Best Men’s Clothing Store + Best Sporting-Goods Store
What can we say? LL BEAN is the quintessential Maine brand, and readers — at least our male ones — are quite practical. Long-wearing, classy-looking duds, for not much money, and with a guarantee they’ll take ’em back if we wreck ’em. Actually, the same can be said for their sports and outdoors gear.
LL Bean | 95 Main St, Freeport | 877.552.3268 | 542 Congress St, Portland | 207. 772.5100 |www.llbean.com
Best Place to Buy Erotic Gifts
A quant little setup above Exchange, NOMIA BOUTIQUE is the one sex shop in Portland where you can feel comfortable even when it isn’t the all-female day on Thursday. Nomia has an assortment of toys for men and women. It is also known for their classes, including couples massage, and all-female or all-male sessions about the opposite gender.
The collection of books and lubricants are enough to keep anyone’s head spinning, but the staff on hand is their to keep you on track for exactly what you are looking for, or to bring a new idea to mind.
Nomia Boutique | 10 Exchange St # 215, Portland | 207.773.4774 | www.nomiaboutique.com
Best Shoe Store
Portland’s only sneaker boutique is a welcome addition to local lore, because since Terra Firma closed in 2005 there, uh, wasn’t anyplace to buy sneakers in town. CREAM APPAREL has not only solved that problem, but done it with style and accessibility. What at first glance looked to be an elitist faux-New York City shoe gallery turned out to be a shop of surprising range and solid taste. Limited-edition Adidas can run for $60 alongside those high-priced designer Nikes, which are still cheaper than you’ll find in a big city. They even sell comfort-centric brands like Vans and New Balance, and are slowly accruing a standout hoodie selection. Whenever there’s a “Sale” sign, you won’t leave empty-footed.
Cream Apparel | 87 Market St, Portland | 207.699.2940 | www.myspace.com/creamapparel
Best Thrift Store + Best Women’s Clothing Store
If you have big style, a wee budget, or both, MATERIAL OBJECTS is the place to go. Two parts thrift store and vintage shop and one part boutique, the store is filled with fresh looks for women (and for men).
Up front is jewelry, an odd collection of home goods (paper lanterns, tapestries, you know), and new looks; in back are modern pre-worn clothes (Gap jeans, Bean sweaters, Donna Karan dresses), and vintage pieces — including a kooky collection of vintage hats and boots around the store. Where else can you find funky and fun new clothing, awesome vintage dresses, and classy consigned goods such as a pair of Seven jeans for a fantastic price like fifteen bucks? Don’t forget the grand wall of shoes, the rack of wedding dresses, and the eclectic jewelry and hip sunglasses behind the counter.
If you’re really hard up for cash, you can always bring your won gently-used clothes into the store for purchase. The folks at MO will steam them, hang them, and do their best to sell them (with a fair business split, of course) so you can take your lazily earned money and spend it right there.
Material Objects | 500 Congress St, Portland | 207.774.1241
Best Used Books
This place has towering shelves with more books at their feet so you can either go to the section you need for a quick purchase or immerse yourself in literary exploration on the floor for hours. According to owner Nancy Grayson, the secret to CUNNINGHAM BOOKS’ success is “the nicest group of customers in any used-book store in the world.” The selection is diverse and in good condition. The prices aren’t bad either. Apparently, a large tome entitled The Neverending Story is hidden in the back room. Ask at the counter. Magic and wonder are waiting for you, young reader.
Cunningham Books | 188 State St, Portland | 207.775.2246