Vermilion Farm Market
The specialty market on the main drag of this tourist-friendly town features a wealth of fresh produce. In fact, one-third of the store is dedicated to fruit and veggies that are handpicked by a buyer six days a week. “You can’t go to a grocery store and get the quality product that we have for anywhere near our prices,” says Diana Gifford, manager of the market. “Our produce by far beats just about everybody.”
Gifford offers these tips to get the most of your produce bounty:
• To ripen bananas overnight, place them in a brown paper bag and put them on top of the fridge.
• Transfer lettuce to a zip-close bag to seal in nutrients and keep it fresh longer.
• To select the perfect watermelon, knock on it. If it sounds hollow, it’s the one.
• Ripe cantaloupes will have a golden color and be soft on the ends.
• If the leaves pull out of a pineapple easily, it’s ripe.
2901 Liberty Ave., Vermilion, 440-967-9659
Puffer’s Floral Shoppe
With a motto of “Give them something different,” Puffer’s delivers special gifts to its customers and their loved ones, such as unique containers or decorative keepsakes tucked into a fabulous bouquet of flowers. The second-generation floral shop offers a full line of gift-giving options and is known for its commemorative sympathy arrangements that often incorporate angel statues or stepping stones.821 E. River St., Elyria, 440-323-5421, puffersfloral.com
Don Mould’s Plantation
Create a backyard paradise with the unusual selection of plants from Don Mould’s Plantation Landscaping, including Koto No Ito –– a Japanese maple –– and hardneck garlic. This independent garden center, family-owned since 1961, also provides locally grown beauties whenever possible.34837 Lorain Road, North Ridgeville, 440-327-3407; Rt. 58 and Rt. 113, Amherst, 440-986-7777, mouldsplantation.com
Paul’s Beverage Warehouse
Choose from more than 100 craft beers, including a huge selection of seasonal favorites such as pumpkin ale. You can create your own six-pack or just buy a single bottle. Either way, don’t forget to grab the chili beer –– a lager with a hint of a spice.638 Lake Ave., Elyria, (440) 322-1088, paulsbeverage.com
Commodore Books and More
True to its name, this place is more than just a bookstore. After opening the Tech Bar last November, Commodore Books and More is quickly becoming a hotspot for technology purchases, repairs and free consultations. With walk-in tech service hours, it can accommodate even the busiest of shoppers.1005 Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4055, bookstore.lorainccc.edu
This mom-and-pop store stays current with the trends, offering everything from pre-owned estate jewelry to trendy colored diamonds in shades such as chocolate, blue and yellow. Vandemark also focuses on maintaining the store’s comfortable atmosphere so shopping for that something special isn’t intimidating.244 E. Broad St., Elyria, 440-322-1700, vandemarkjewelers.com
This 800,000-square-foot complex includes a wealth of diverse shopping and dining options from Costco to Pier 1 Imports to Caribou Coffee. But there’s more to admire about this center than the storefronts. You can also absorb the landscaping by taking a walk on the recreational parkway or resting for lunch in the gazebo.35974 Detroit Road, Avon
The Mermaid’s Tale
From young teens to sophisticated women, there’s something for everyone at this boutique. The owner attends trends shows throughout the United States, staying up-to-date on the the latest in clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry, including styles inspired by Pandora, Vera Bradley and Lindsay Phillips.201 Church St., Amherst, 440-988-7826, mermaidstale.net
Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery, Lorain County Community College
This gallery strives to be a living, learning classroom as it showcases art exhibitions highlighting local, regional and national artists. Free and open to the public, the gallery “works very hard to integrate exhibitions into the curriculum and work across disciplines to offer experiential learning opportunities for arts students and students across campus,” says Joan Perch, gallery coordinator.1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria, 440-366-4140, lccc.edu
Tree House Gallery & Tea Room
If you’re looking for an all-day excursion, this Olde Avon Village shop is the place to go. Filled with fun finds from Civil War trumpets to fine furniture, there’s so much to see — even in the bathroom. When shopping tires you, check out its wine cellar or sit back and order lunch.36840 Detroit Road, Avon, 440-934-1636, oldeavonvillage.com/treehouse.htm
The Backpacker’s Shop
Novice to experienced adventurers love the Backpacker’s Shop for its variety of inventory and weekly interactive seminars. Skilled salesmen advise patrons how to long-distance hike the Appalachian Trail, backpack in Yosemite or cook in the backcountry. The outdoorsy staff will also explain what clothing, equipment or food is necessary for your wilderness adventure.5128 Colorado Ave., Sheffield Village, 440-934-5345, backpackersshop.com