Shops with personality plus
Jan
19
2016

I love shopping Saranac Lake's historic downtown. The recent holiday season lured me there, where I found unusual gifts for many of the folks on my list. They were all great hits for the recipients.

Our historic downtown is pedestrian-friendly, with plenty of parking. There's an abundance of benches, dining spots, places for coffee and baked goodies, and a river running through the center of it. Even though it was winter, the last time I was walking around, it was sunny and I heard birds singing.

One of the elements that create such delightful shops is the personality of the proprietors, who combine a fun atmosphere with an adventurous inventory.

two horse trade company

Two Horse Trade Company is always a favorite stop for me. Carla (see above) has a lovely hand drum painted with a pair of wild horses at full gallop. This was the inspiration for the name of her company.

Carla calls her shop a place for "treasures of many traditions," a phrase I love. There are beads and feathers, hats and boots, gorgeous artwork and artisan crafts, exotic clothing, Buddha statues, and bundles of sage for smudging. With so many interesting things to look at, prepare to spend a bit of time there.

Tangles the dog loves greeting people at Two Horse Trading

We will always be greeted by Tangles, the shop doggie. He is a giant schnoodle, which is a combination of schnauzer and poodle. As seen below, he is a happy tail-wagger. (That is where the blur in the photo comes from.)

Currently the shop specializes in jewelry and greeting cards, but there are plenty of exotic clothes, hangings, tapestries, and items which have many possible purposes. As seen below, these wildly patterned fabrics would be just right for... something.

creative choices abound at Two Horse Trading

I constantly find things at Two Horse that surprise and delight me. There's no other place in town where I could find a miniature selenium Fortress of Solitude on a color changing base. (As seen below.)

Really, there are two kinds of people in the world. There are the people who find something like this, squeal like a goosed gopher, and must have it. And then there are the people, like my husband, who stare at it and say, "I don't get it."

Thats okay, honey. I do.

I got my selenium Fortress of Solitude miniature on a color-changing base at Two Horse Trading

I didn't even know a color-changing Fortress of Solitude existed. I didn't know I wanted it. I didn't know it would be ridiculously inexpensive.

And now, it is mine!

Be warned. That's the kind of thing that happens at Two Horse.

main street exchange

Main Street Exchange began as a thrift store eight years ago, but for a year now they have been changing gears to be more of a vintage wearables shop. Their official motto is "Quality Used Clothing & Stuff." This description covers a multitude of fun treasures.

They have a greeter cat, Tito, who is very polite and interested in discussing what goes with what things. This is a lovely topic, since there are things for men, women, and children throughout the store, and we can assemble a total outfit there.

Tito the cat greets visitors to Main Street Emporium

Barbara Curtis will be glad to share the most interesting new things that have come in, and as she likes to say, "Rarely do we ever get two of the same thing." The greatest volume is probably women's clothes.

At the ends of the racks are some of the bulkier and/or unique items, while on the racks are the pants, blouses, skirts, suits, and dresses. On my most recent visit, I got a pair of corduroys and a charming hat. On super sale!

Great buys on vintage & lightly used clothing at Main Street Emporium

When we first enter the store we find the more exotic clothes, like cocktail dresses and evening gowns. New Year's Eve really cleared out this section.

I found my 1960s opera cloak here. In purple velvet. With a hood. There was no restraining me from that item. It will come in very handy for this year's Winter Carnival, which is themed Superheroes & Villains. Now I can go either way.

the section we first step into has some of the most interesting items, like cocktail gowns or opera cloaks

The jewelry counter offers a glimpse of past eras or a craft item of more recent fashion, costume jewelry and some more precious items in the glass cases around the cash register.

There's also the Stuff.

I saw candlesticks, funny signs, snazzy sunglasses, a set of cocktail glasses, and some decorative items. There's a bookcase of DVDs and books.

Treasure hunting at Main Street Emporium -- we don't know what we'll find next

And hats. Lots and lots of hats. I love hats, which are practical for both cold weather and sunny weather. Since, here in the Adirondacks, we get both at once, I always check the hat section when I come here.

Main Street Emporium: never the same twice.

ampersound

Ampersound is the music store for players and listeners. When I stopped by there was a broadcasting session going on for our local radio station, NCPR (North Country Public Radio.) Barb Heller, who hosts and & Joel Hurd, the production manager, were broadcasting String Fever, which can be heard on Thursdays from 3-5 pm.

The musicians were going to be playing at the Left Bank Cafe that night for New Year's Eve. They are Emily Martz (on violin) and Pete Benson (guitar) of Martz & Benson.

NCPR at Ampersound, broadcasting popular afternoon show, "String Fever"

The back has both new and used guitars, basses, and mandolins. What the hat section of Main Street Emporium is to me, this section of Ampersound is to many of my friends.

There are also CDs and DVDs, microphones, plugs for things that are known to my friends, Bluetooth speakers from palm-sized to room-filling size, all that mysterious wiring, and many, many kinds of guitar strings.

Ampersound is a great place to pick up a CD for the long ride home, or a DVD to liven a snowy night

The front has the smaller, and in my opinion, cuter, instruments, like ukuleles and adorable little accordions. There are different kinds of drums, kid's instruments like a slide whistle (you know that cartoon sound than goes uuuuuuuup and doooooooooown?) and kazoos.

When there's an emergency and we have to organize a kazoo band, this is the place.

Mark the music man, Ampersound proprietor, demonstrates some ukulele moves for a customer

It's also the headquarters for music performance information. If anyone is playing anywhere (and we have a large local pool of singers, musicians, and bands) it is most likely that Mark knows about it.

twin crystal rock shop

Twin Crystal Rock Shop absolutely rocks. Kasey & Kean, the twins who run the shop, specialize in products created from the incredible range of local geology.

The Adirondack Mountains were formed from the pressure of lava on molten rock. This creates the conditions for fascinating crystal formation. Moonstone was once mined only ten minutes from the shop location. While that mine has been closed for 30 years, there are some of those moonstones in the shop's display case. 

The only thing that separates these crystals from more expensive crystals is... public relations

There's a rack of local fossils, plenty of garnet (it is the New York State stone) from Gore Mountain, and Twin Crystal is the self-declared Herkimer diamond headquarters. Only one hundred fifty miles to the south, Herkimer is the site of double-terminated quartz crystals of extraordinary clarity. This creates quartz jewelry of amazing beauty.

The twins have been aware of their fascination with rocks since they were four years old. They grew up next door to a rock shop. Now, in their current location for over a decade, they are professional lapidaries; artists with stones, minerals, and gemstones.

grownups will enjoy the wonderful variety of unusual jewelry at the Twin Crystal rock shop

I remember that I've been meaning to have my engagement ring cleaned and tightened, and agree to bring it in soon. It is a lovely amethyst — a gemstone that is not only my favorite color, purple, but it is actually rarer than a diamond. They are thrilled that I know this: "We encourage educational browsing!"

There are plenty of other items which reflect the "rock" concept. They have pendulums, decorative crystals, and spheres.

these candies are made by slowly "growing" the crystals along the wooden stick

Even the candy follows the theme, especially the rock candy. I didn't know this kind of candy actually dates back 500 years, and was used for sore throats. It takes seven days to grow these sticks of candy.

Another kid-friendly favorite is the place where they can dig for actual buried treasures.

Actual buried treasure for the kids! As if the Twin Crystal rock shop wasn't interesting enough already!

We can also pick up a copy of "Cloned: The Recreator Chronicles." The twins have a cameo role in this cult movie, which was shot locally. They will even show you the rock prop from the movie. See if you can spot it!

the twins in Twin Crystal actually have a part in this cult film, shot locally in the Adirondacks

We are a fun place to shop. We are a fun place to meet people, too.

Another feature of downtown is our famous Riverwalk, a park along the Saranac River that is 1.5 miles long. It is accessible from many places along our historic downtown. Find all the shops during your trip. We have plenty of delicious dining. And some lodging is within walking distance!


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Author:Pamela Merritt
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