Robyn's Nest: Garden-inspired gifts
From the moment you enter this shop (where the eponymous Robyn will greet you with a cup of tea of your choice from a large selection of green, black and herbal teas), you can feel the stress falling away with the tinkle of the fountains and wind chimes. A purveyor of garden-inspired goods, Robyn's also carries a wide range of gift items, including bamboo clothing, interesting shell creations, and seasonally appropriate collectibles. I found myself spending far too much time surveying a nook full of spring goodies -- a glorious wreath of spring flowers, adorable bunnies, a mother duck and ducklings, and even a shelf with things one might give to the cynical teen at the Easter dinner table -- and the section with garden tools and accents. Next door there's a splendid chocolatier whose hand-made creations (sand dollars and other shells delicated rendered in milk or dark chocolate, for example) certainly complemented the purchases I made at Robyn's.
What to buy: This is a fine place to shop for better quality souvenirs of your visit. I wound up with a charming print ($25.00, matted) and some gardener's hand cream which smelled too good to pass up.
What to pay: Good shopping, in Sarasota as elsewhere, isn't cheap.
- Women's Travel
The Tabby Cat: Meow!
This was a first for me: a store entirely devoted to cat paraphrenalia! Cushions, bumper stickers, pins, stuffed animals, and an array of things for cats themselves as well as their devoted owners...er, servants. I was hard put to decide which to buy: a pillow on which was embroidered, "For the best seat in the house, you'll have to move the cat" or a self-cleaning litterbox -- not exactly gift material, but on the other hand, there I was on vacation wondering whether the cat-keepers were doing an adequate job (they weren't, as it happened) and it seemed to me like this might be just the ticket.
What to buy: If it involves cats, this store probably carries it.
- Travel with Pets
Can't name them all - over 130 of them: Prime Outlets at Ellenton
With over 135 stores this is one of Florida's great outlet malls - I think it may be the largest I've been to.
The outlet has lots of designer duds from names and stores like Off-Sax Avenue, Donna Karan, Mark, Strike and Four, Escada, and more.
My favorite shops are the Coach outlet and various luggage outlets.
Mall has a food court.
What to pay: Check for coupons and specials before going"
St. Armands Circle: St. Armands Circle
This is a nice upscale kind of shopping area with lots of little shops and restaurants . It has a Europen feel to it although many of the stores are truly USA . St Armands was the brain child of John Ringling, of the circus world. We enjoyed a nice meal here and a stroll around . I spent hours in the Bead shop where the selection was too overwhelming fot me and I walked out empty handed!!
- Women's Travel
Red Barn Flea Market & Plaza
A popular and progressive flea market, with over 650 unique retail shops and flea market-style booths. Lots of bargain hunting and family fun!
Entire Flea Market:
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday
(Open Wednesdays from November thru April)
8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Red Barn Plaza:
Tuesday - Sunday (Closed Monday)
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Upscale shopping mall: Southgate Mall
More upscale shopping. No mall rats found here, where the anchor stores are Saks 5th ave and Macy's. Dillards is also here, as well as some specialty shops such as Williams Sonoma. Some great food in here too. Very accessible, plenty of parking, easy to get in and out quick.
What to buy: everything and anything. It's a mall
What to pay: Like St Armands Circle, this is high end shopping. Don't expect flea market prices.
- Women's Travel
- Road Trip
St. Armand's Circle: Non-corporate one-stop shopping!
St. Armand's is a roundabout of shops located on Lido Key. Though I guess it is technically a "strip mall" none of these shops (save for Barnie's Coffee and Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Shoppe) are owned by big business. There's some restaurants (including the really, really good Crab and Fin), some housewares stores, a few antique shops, and some places that are best described as miscellaneous. This is beach property, though, so the prices are pretty steep, but it's a fun place to look about and there's probably some little something in one of these stores you need to buy to remember Sarasota.
What to buy: I would definitely go visit the store Jamaican Me Crazy. I'm serious. I always avoided this place because it seemed so . . . stupid. Plus, the name - c'mon, what's up with that? However, when my German friend came to visit me he really wanted to go inside, and I'm glad he made me.
The people who work here are nuts - in a good way. Ravenous to sell you anything from a rubber chicken to a really beautiful carved bowl, they'll tell you anything and everything about the product they're hocking. Also, they know quite a lot about the town itself and they're located next to a great pizzeria. There's plenty of tropical trinkets here to remember your stay on the bay, too.
Multiple Shops: St Armands Circle - Elite Shopping District
This is where the rich and famous shop when in Sarasota. No department stores here. Mostly independent merchants selling high end merchandise.
The variety of shops combined with some excellent restaraunts and close proximity to the beach make this an excellent place to pass the day ( and spend some cash).
What to buy: Designer clothes Jewelry gifts toys electronics etc.
What to pay: Depends. Mostly high quality merchandise priced accordingly. Don't look for bargain basement prices here.
- Women's Travel
- Arts and Culture
Main Bookshop: Bring an extra suitcase . . .
I love - LOVE - Main Bookshop. Located across the street from the Regal Hollywood 20 Movie Theatre, this place is three levels of great! The first and second floors are stuffed with overstock and misprint books for dead cheap. The Art and History books are a particularly good deal - usually only about ten percent of the listed price. I got an eighty-five dollar Warhol book here for seven dollars.
Also, there's a pretty big Florida History / Culture section on the second floor that is well worth a go-round.
The third floor is full of used books, records, and whatnot. There's some antique / hard-to-find / out-of-prints up here, too, but you have to look. The staff - on all floors - is really helpful and nice.
Also, there's cats that wander about the place, so you can make a furry friend as you look for books.
You'll find something here - I always leave with an arm full at least.
What to buy: If you're visiting Florida, don't waste your money on an alligator-shaped snow globe to remember your trip. Buy a Florida book from this place instead! (Though, truth be known, I love all the kitchy Florida garbage . . . I have a ceramic gator that holds my paperclips. The books are so cheap here, though, you can buy that crap AND some fabulous Florida books!)
What to pay: Cheapest books youi'll ever buy - but it's easy to spend a lot here. Temptations are all around!
Mortons Market and JD Fords Fine Wines: Gourmet Market and Wine Cellar
I absolutely love this place and if you are a foodie you will too!
This shop has a bakery, chocolate shop (coffee too), cheese, pate, meats, fruits/veggies, wine and so on.
This shop is actually more than a shop- it is an entire complex that has a skilled culinary team
Morton's also has a kitchen shop in the Osprey complex as well as a Restaurant. The Restaurant is divine and has been called "a great neighborhood brasserie" (St. Petersburg Times) and "one of the best restaurants in Florida" (Florida Trend Magazine).
Located in the heart of Southside Village and Lakewood Ranch, Fred's is a unique restaurant offering world-class cuisine in a neighborhood setting. With an eclectic mix of signature American and International delights in an inviting atmosphere, Fred's has defined casual-elegance for the Sarasota area.
Fred's menu includes a mix of European, Asian, and Latin influences with the cuisine of Southern Americana
What to buy: My favorite areas are the cheeses and the homemade pate. Their homemade pates are fantasy worthy. I also adore their prepared food section
I've also taken many of their day long wine classes
What to pay: More expensive than a regular grocery store - because it in no way is a regular grocery store
Currency Exchange International: Great currency change venue
CEI is a large "kiosk" located in the Westfield Mall-Southgate in Sarasota and offers monetary exchanges at rates and fees that are better than banks and airports.
I recently bought Euros or US Dollars and was pleased how efficient and effective the transaction occurred.
With the rate at $1.36 to $1.00...I received $70 Euros for $100 US and a $3.00 fee. The best I could get from Bank of America was $103 with a $15 fee and I would have to wait 48 hours to get the Euros.
Offices also in California, New York, Hawaii, Texas, Washington DC and Canada
What to buy: Money exchanges is all they do. Simple and easy.
What to pay: The current rates updated daily.
- Business Travel
Goodwill: Cheap good clothing
If you don't mind the stigma of shopping at a used clothing store, check out the numerous goodwills around Sarasota. Because of the unusual economics of Florida (people move down to smaller retirement homes, or worse, die, and donate all kinds of good stuff to charity), the goodwill stores are filled to the brim with lots of good quality clothing.
If you forgot or don't want to pack something, it's a great place to pick up cheap, temporary clothing, that you can donate back when you leave!
What to buy: Clothing. Don't bother with the larger items like appliances. Occasionally a good book can be had too.
What to pay: Much less than retail. I bought an almost new pair of dockers slacks for 4 bucks!
- Budget Travel
Rocketman has moved to a new location
Rocketman has moved from Siests Key Village to a strip mall on the left just before the Stickney Point bridge...still the best place for all cool drum circle paraphenalia!
What to buy: drums. head shop stuff, jewelry, incense,indian blankets wall hangings, tee shirts, footbags..basically all things hip
What to pay: normal pricing
Captain's Landing: Mens Clothing in Venice
Since 1995, Captain's Landing luxury menswear has been offering only the finest men's resort fashions found under one roof anywhere. They currently offer an eclectic collection of smart and comfortable men's apparel and accessories featuring tailored resort and beach wear by exclusive brands such as Tori Richard, Kahala, Bamboo Cay, Southern Tide, Hook and Tackle, Brighton Belts and much more. If you want only the best in men's resort lifestyle collections that define both luxury and confident style, then you've come to the right place…Captain's Landing.
EXIT ART: BOTIQUE SHOPPING AT ITS BEST
THIS IS A GREAT TSHIRT SHOP WITH LOTS OF SOFT UPSCALE TSHIRTS, JEANS, AND CUTE ACCESSORIES FOR THE HOUSE. THE SALES PEOPLE ARE VERY HELPFUL AND KNOW THEIR MERCHANDISE.
What to buy: TSHIRTS!!!!
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