One of the stores we visited frequently when trying to find unique but frugally-priced nautical/beach items for our shore place was Warehouse Wicker. Quite different from most shops you'll find in town or on the boardwalk, Warehouse Wicker is a strange mix of levels, nooks and crannies, unfinished walls, and both wooden and concrete floors. It's more of a barn structure than a real store, and items are to be found are scattered throughout the store in no rational manner but you're bound to find something you like.
They have some excellent pieces of wicker furniture, particularly the white-washed or pickled variety. Along with that you'll find a few nice pieces framed art, hooked rugs, lanterns, lamps, and pillows all with a nautical or beach theme. Because these are better quality items, the prices reflect that. But there is no end to seashore decorative items that are very reasonably priced if you want an item or two or three! People who have summer homes here or rental homes love to decorate them with nautical or beach themed pieces.
Strings of shells, lanterns, serving dishes, napkins, placemats, baskets, candle holders, wall hangings, and beachy signs are just a few of the types of items that appeal to lots of people. Holiday items also make their appearance through out the year but especially at Christmas time.
What to pay: Items can cost as little as a dollar or two up to several hundred dollars for very good pieces of wicker furniture.
They have ornaments for every theme you can imagine, as well as jewelry, charms, coastal decor, holiday decorating items, candles (the store smells wonderful!), collectibles, art, and so much more. Nothing "tacky" or "cheesy", like many boardwalk souveniers. Three locations: Rio Grande (the original), Cape May and Wildwood, as well as online ordering. The stores carry many more items than the website, and the beautiful displays must be seen in person. The Rio Grande store is located in the historic Hildreth House, which is over 200 years old.
What to buy: An ornament for your tree, a charm for your bracelet...
What to pay: As little or as much as you care to
Great store offering so much more than just wicker furniture. Lots and lots of baskets, lawn decor, beachy themed items, candles, magnets, souveniers, wall art, coastal artwork and plenty more. This is not a place to stop for a quick visit, you will want to browse. But it is called "Warehouse" Wicker for a reason, it is not a fancy place, just a myriad of items on shelves and walls and no air conditioning. You can easily find gifts to bring home to friends and family, they offer such a good variety of items including holiday decorations. Open 9-5 daily.
What to buy: Jersey shore souveniers are available here also, magnets, car decals, coffee mugs, etc. No clothing items.
What to pay: $5 - $500 depends on if you buy a wicker basket or a wicker loveseat
Yummy version of water-ice that softer (my grandpa from Philly derogatorily calls is Yum-Yum.) It's very sweet, has tons of dye in it, but kids go wild for it. It'll dye your lips, tongue and your clothes if you aren't careful. My favorite is banana.
What to pay: $1 or more, depending on the size.
The Boardwalk Mall is a good stop for the elderly, small children, or anyone who can't stand the heat for too long. It's located right on the Boardwalk and offers and air-conditioned escape from the heat. It offers all the boardwalk treats and kitsch.
What to buy: Cheesy items made of shells like wind chimes, boardwalk candy, t-shirts and caps, etc.
What to pay: Too much
Growing up Swirled World was my favorite shop. It stays right on the pulse of what young people want. They do piercings and sell the things kids want- music, clothes, jewlery, posters, etc. Lots of places on the Boardwalk sell this stuff, but this one is definitely the coolest and the best.
One of the Boardwalk traditions is buying french fries in a big bucket to share with friends/family. You soak em' in ketchup and eat them with toothpicks. There's lots of places on the Boardwalk selling french fries, but in my opinion, this place has the best fries. It's tucked away behind some other food stands at one of the hubs a the center of the boardwalk about a block away from Morey's Pier (accross from The Original Hot Spot.) If you ask someone for directions, just ask for directions to the area where Dracula's Castle used to be (it burned down, but everyone knows where the castle was.)
What to pay: $3 or more
There are lots of places to buy fudge on the Boardwalk, but trust someone who goes to the shore all the time... accept no imitations and buy your fudge from "The Fudge Kitchen." It's the only place with copper kettles in the window. They give out free samples- one taste and you will see why any other fudge is a waste of time. The fudge is totally creamy without any graininess at all (lots of pure cream!)
What to buy: The fudge, especially the vanilla, is of course the best!
Other traditional favorites are molasses paddles, taffies, marzipan, chocolate covered strawberries, pectin squares, chocolates and more!
What to pay: About $9 lb- keep your eyes peeled for people passing out coupons. Also coupons are in the local free tourist papers.