By Shayna Mace
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Small towns offer the allure of quaint, quiet Main Streets and just a touch of what life was like “back then”—since many have preserved historic buildings in their downtown areas. Here are four we love to shop in Wisconsin.
A beautiful, artsy town about 40 miles west of Madison best known for its Frank Lloyd Wright connections (Taliesin, for one) and American Players Theatre, Spring Green’s Main Street area also has great shopping, too.
Must-Stop: Set in a 1910 converted cheese warehouse, the Spring Green General Store is a brightly painted building that houses a wonderful café and retail space selling clothing, gifts, toys and gourmet food items. Although the name is old-timey, this inviting space is a smartly merchandised and thoroughly up-to-date stop that’s worth it.
Great Gifts: Prairie Flowers & Gifts and Convivio both have beautiful spaces and plenty of options for presents. Prairie Flowers has jewelry, handbags, home accessories, baby gifts and a floral cooler for custom flower arrangements. Convivio specializes in home and tabletop luxuries, plus gourmet food items, a curated selection of wine, and a small child and baby section in the back.
Special Interests: Bookworms will love Arcadia Books, which owner James Bohnen modeled after stores you’d find in major urban areas. Find tomes in every genre including art, theatre, the latest bestsellers and children’s books. Bonus: Their café is fabulous and makes dishes out of locally sourced ingredients!
Art aficionados will love the Jura Silverman Gallery (also set in a former cheese warehouse) for a variety of works on paper, glass art and more.
Off the Beaten Path: Nina’s Department & Variety Store has a little bit of everything—pharmacy goods, kitchen items, a large selection of toys and old-timey candy. Driftless Trading Company is a newer space on the main drag and has natural bath and body products, soy candles, Wisconsin-made wooden cutting boards and other great gift items.
This quaint “burg” north of Milwaukee has more than 200 preserved buildings of historical significance. One must-stop is the Shops of Cedar Creek Settlement, a collection of specialty stores and restaurants located in a converted wool mill, as well as the main drag on Washington Street.
Must-Stops: The area is chock-full of tasty gourmet food gift establishments. The Olive Sprig specializes in exquisite olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars plus other culinary delights (pastas, wine and sauces). The Rustic Palate’s cheery and inviting space has kitchen gadgets and tableware, and Wisconsin- and Midwest-made specialty sauces and rubs. It’s located near the area’s marquee stop, Cedar Creek Winery, a local winery that offers tours, tastings and of course, great gift ideas in their Wisconsin-made wines.
Great Gifts: Downtown find Frill Unique Gifts & Wishful Things, a trove of gifty items for the holidays and beyond. Find your favorite host a recycled wine bottle candle, a beautiful serving platter or soft scarf. They’ve also got eight decorated trees full of ornaments to buy, too! Up The Creek a few doors down sells a combination of vintage items as well as new things like tote bags, clever signs and home accessories.
Special Interests: Bridge Road Gallery sells fine ceramic items in a quaint loft space at the Settlement shops. The Alpine Gift Haus caters to a collectibles collector—find beautiful European blown glass ornaments, German woodcraft and art glass.
Off the Beaten Path: The area also has a nice variety of vintage, resale and consignment shops like Itty Bitty Piggies (new and gently used baby/children’s items), Corner Closet (women’s) and The Dovecoat (home accessories).
The colonial style of downtown Delafield’s buildings makes for an eye-catching and pleasant stroll on a crisp winter day. And with the stretch of shops easily accessible by foot and in a day’s time, a daytrip here is worth it.
Must-Stops: Ladies will love The Barn Owl, a sweet shop with a curated mix of apparel and home furnishings, all merchandised in charming vignettes. Element Style showcases the latest trends (blanket, scarves and fringe handbags, anyone?) and carries clothing, shoes and accessories for the discerning shopper.
Great Gifts: Bittersweet Gifts & Accessories is a great little space that has wine accessories, home décor and collectibles. Oliva Di Vita is perfect for the gourmand in your life who appreciates a fine olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar or specialty vinegar.
Special Interests: As their adorable name implies, Tadpoles carries clothing and gifts for the tot set—newborns up to sizes 10 and 14 for boys and girls. Clear Water Outdoor specializes in apparel and gear for outdoor active endeavors—check out their “gearage” filled with stuff for kayaking, cross-country skiing and stand-up paddleboarding.
Off the Beaten Path: The Hidden Staircase carries beloved book series like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Dick and Jane as well as The New York Times bestsellers, cards and gifts. The Rickety Robin is a fascinating antique shop a few blocks off the main drag. The owners have estate jewelry, vintage dolls and collectibles, and notable furniture.
Great Gifts: Delight a little one in your life with a gift from Movers & Shakers Kids Toys or With Child. The former is filled with plush toys, book and more; the latter with maternity items as well as baby shower gifts and clothing. The Kohler Gardener is a gorgeously-merchandised space with, you guessed it—gardening goods—as well as ceramics and home décor.
Special Interests: Enjoy Scentualities, a luxe boutique with apparel, jewelry and indulgent bath and body products—plus high-end Frette linens.
Off the Beaten Path: The Wisconsin Trader is a testament to Midwestern living. Find home décor, Wisconsin-made food products and Sconnie-themed clothing.
Ready to keep going? Check out even more destinations for spectacular small-town shopping.