Best of New England: New Hampshire
ZEB’S GENERAL STORE
In this sprawling shop devoted to New England specialty products, the shelves are filled to groaning with more than 5,000 items, from knickknacks and candles to soaps and condiments, including Bee Tree Farm honey and Stonewall Kitchen jams. Thankfully, the staffers turn what could be chaos into what they call “organized clutter.” It’s not a standard country store — there’s no fertilizer or tools to be found — but it’s a shopper’s (and grazer’s) paradise. // 2675 Main St., North Conway Village, 603-356- 9294, zebs.com.
This is just the kind of neighborhood bookstore you wish you had in your own neighborhood. Not only are the shelves stocked with thousands of titles, but RiverRun also recruits impressive authors for its events (Ken Burns, Dan Brown, John Updike, Alan Alda, and Anita Diamant have all made appearances). Staffers are always eager to recommend a title, but are also happy to leave you alone to read. // 20 Congress St., Portsmouth, 603-431-2100, riverrunbookstore.com.
BOWERBIRD AND FRIENDS
Tiny Peterborough has become something of a design magnet, first with the now-defunct Red Chair and now with Bowerbird. Most of the items in this lovely store perched over the Nubanusit River are decorative: La Rochère glassware, serving pieces from Fishs Eddy, assorted cake stands, antiques, and candelabras. There’s a “potting shed” area that sells unusual houseplants and topiaries, as well as bath and beauty products from Olivina. Our advice: Before you go, make a list of everyone you need to buy a gift for this year, and get it all done in advance. // 16 Depot Sq., Peterborough, 603-924-2550.
Home Accessories : Bargain
Company C’s signature style of vibrant rugs, linens, and furniture puts a fresh, modern spin on New England décor. And this location, also the site of the corporate headquarters, boasts a back room with incredible deals on floor models, designer samples, and discontinued merchandise — all 40 to 70 percent off original retail prices. // 102 Old Turnpike rd., Concord, 800-818-8288, companyc.com.
L. A. BURDICK
If you ever contemplate what to put on your bucket list, be sure to add “Taste Burdick’s hot chocolate.” More like a warm pudding than a cocoa, this rich nectar captures everything that is wonderful about chocolate and then heightens it. Prefer to nibble? Individual treats — particularly the signature chocolate mice, penguins, and bunnies, are some of the most charming bonbons around. // 47 Main St., Walpole, 603-756-2882, burdickchocolate.com.