Bearskin Neck is the obvious place to start. Dozens of little shops stock clothes, gifts, toys, jewelry, souvenirs, inexpensive novelties, and expensive handmade crafts and paintings. Another enjoyable stroll is along Main and Mount Pleasant streets. Good stops include the nonprofit Toad Hall Bookstore, 47 Main St. (tel. 978/546-7323;; Tidal Edge Gallery, 3 School St., off Main Street (tel. 978/546-3196;; and Willoughby's, 20 Main St. (tel. 978/546-9820), a women's clothing and accessories shop.

Two of my favorite stops are retro delights. Downtown, you can watch taffy being made at Tuck's Candy Factory, 7 Dock Sq. (tel. 800/569-2767 or 978/546-6352;, a local landmark that opened in 1929. There's a retail location at 15 Main St. Near the train station, Crackerjacks, 27 Whistlestop Mall, off Railroad Avenue (tel. 978/546-1616), is an old-fashioned variety store with a great crafts department.

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