Regular music store with lots of instruments on display. My husband found an item he wanted online and the store could hold it or mail it to us. We chose to pick it up. After testing the item, they were able to bubble wrap it for our trip home (by air). Nice people and fast service.
What to buy: Not sure what else Hartford has to offer. We only went for this one music store.
My friend highly recommended this store for lunch time gyros and falafels, but I can see why she really wanted to come here. The store owner has bred a whole line of lovely looking Lebanese boys that dress in business attire and cook food for you. Strange yet true. And for 4 bucks for a gyro, it better have been a darn good one. But oh it was, and it was definitely worth the wait.
The store itself carries a variety of international specialty foods: middle eastern, halal, indian, jewish, european, you name it. If you are interested in buying hard to find items, you will have a good chance of finding them here.
Don't even think about leaving till you've tasted their homemade baklava and bourma.
I believe someone else reported that there was no large grocery store in Hartford, which was true for a long time. But there is now a Stop & Shop IN Hartford; it's not near downtown but down in the SW part of town, & would require the use of a car or a couple of buses to get there from downtown, but there IS one!
There has also been a Shaws just over the W. Hartford line on Prospect Ave.--right down Kane St. from the Stop & Shop. And there are smaller grocery stores called "C-Town" around (one is on Wethersfield Ave, I forget for now where the other is, sorry), and there is a grocery store on Albany Ave., right behind the McDonald's, but that's in the North End that everyone has warned you about.
Incidentally, if you go to the Stop & Shop and notice that it's called Royal Plaza, that's because it's the former site of the Royal typewriter factory.
There are several big shopping malls, as well as lots of specialty stores in Hartford area. If you are into the outdoor sports, be sure to spend some time at the Cabela's in East...