Shopping, Nantucket Style! Nantucket is a haven for shoppers and harbors an impressive array of shops and boutiques to satisfy every taste, from the traditional to the whimsical. Because many of these stores are small and independently owned, you’ll enjoy a rare level of personal attention.
Imagine a place where elegant shops still define downtown, where stylish, hand-carved wooden signs spell out the names of businesses, where the glare of neon does not diminish the night sky and where authentic time-honored crafts abound. This atmosphere has prevailed for centuries on Nantucket and remains an integral part of the island’s charm. No, you won’t find modern malls or sprawling megastores here. As islanders and visitors alike will attest, shopping on Nantucket is a personal experience, where shopkeepers pride themselves on attention to detail, and where quality is more important than quantity.
A stroll along the streets of Nantucket is like stepping back in time. The shops fronting Centre Street, for example, look much the same as they did in the 1800s when they were collectively known as “Petticoat Row” because island women ran the businesses there.
Manufacturing on Nantucket continues to carry the definition “made by hand,” and maritime traditions and crafts remain a hallmark of the island’s mercantile scene. As has been the case for decades and generations, Nantucket’s distinctive lightship baskets are still carefully and lovingly hand-crafted by islanders, as is the scrimshaw that continues a centuries-old tradition brought back to the island by the whalers who circumnavigated the world.
The island is also renowned for its artists and artisans, including painters, weavers, potters, jewelers, and furniture makers, all of whom create one-of-a-kind heirlooms and treasures. It’s not surprising that R. H. Macy himself was a native Nantucketer and shopkeeper, and that the innovative ideas he brought to the mainland were forged during his early business years on the island.