I know, we're all here for the theater scene, but don't miss out on Stratford's excellent shopping options. If you were expecting touristy, overpriced, and kitschy, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Many of the stores downtown sell clothing and housewares that rival what you'll see in the best boutiques in Toronto. Prices tend to be quite reasonable. Here are some of my favorite spots.
- Art: Gallery Indigena (69 Ontario St.; tel. 519/271-7881; www.galleryindigena.com) is filled with wonderful finds. They specialize in works by the Inuit, Iroquois, Cree, Plains, Woodland, and North Pacific Coast peoples. In business for more than 3 decades, the gallery hosts several "Meet the Artist" events throughout the summer, and it ships artwork all over the world.
- Books: Callan Books (15 York St.; tel. 519/273-5767) is a charming spot with an eclectic collection that will particularly please history buffs. Fundamentals (52 Ontario St.; tel. 519/273-6440) is targeted at the small fry and has a particularly wonderful collection of illustrated storybooks.
- Clothing: Elizabeth Noel (26 Ontario St.; tel. 519/273-4506) sells beautiful dresses and other ladylike pieces, many of which are by Canadian labels such as Sweet Chemise and Girl Friday. The Green Room (40 Ontario St.; tel. 519/271-3240) is actually several rooms, all jampacked with women's accessories. For men, there's Gruv ("groove"), at 10 Ontario St. (tel. 519/273-1116).
- Gift Items: The fair-trade company Ten Thousand Villages (14 Ontario St.; tel. 519/272-0700) sells crafts, jewelry, housewares, and toys from artisans in developing countries. Rheo Thompson Candies (55 Albert St.; tel. 519/271-6910) is a local institution that makes lovely chocolates, mints, jellies, and other candies.
- Housewares: You'll find both locally made cranberry glass and objects from Indonesia and Uzbekistan at Watson's Chelsea Bazaar (84 Ontario St.; tel. 519/273-1790). White Oleander (136 Ontario St.; tel. 519/271-5616) sells lovely linens, bedding, and tableware. The venerable Bradshaws (129 Ontario St.; tel. 519/271-6283) has been in business since 1895 selling crystal and china.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.