With Christmas fast approaching I wanted to share my favorite stores in the Bahamas with you (just don’t take all of the good stuff so I don’t get any;) )
I am a VERY proud Bahamian so needless to say, my favorite places to shop only sell items made locally (well there may be one small exception but I’ll point that out in a minute).
1) The Straw Market (Nassau) – The Nassau Straw Market is the main one but most of the Islands of the Bahamas have their own version and I am a equal opportunity straw shopper. To most Bahamians, the Straw Market is what Times Square is to New Yorkers… By that I mean that locals tend to avoid these places like the plague. But I challenge you to take the dive and plow head on in to the Straw Market (not Times Square)! I have never met a straw bag, hat, or trinket that I didn’t like. So this place is my mecca. It is slightly over whelming to be bombarded the moment you happen to cast a passing glance at an item, with a chorus of “You like that sweetie? Lets make a deal.” I just smile and say “No thank you” and continue on my quest. Now this is the one place that I mentioned may not sell ALL Bahamian. There are the T-shirts and occasional bit of jewelry or a knock off designer bag, that are obviously made in China, but you must look past that and find the ladies making the good stuff. The BAHAMIAN stuff. The ladies who have been passing the art of straw weaving down from generation to generation of wonderful artists and because of this hold an important part of our culture. You can have things customized with your name, or even completely custom designed. All you have to do is ask, if they don’t know how to do it, or don’t have what you are looking for they will point you in the right direction to the person who can help you. All in all the straw market is a magical and wonderful place with endless possibilities for present giving. (tip: If the main Straw Market on Bay Street is too intimidating for you, try the smaller one on the Bahamar Strip)
2) Bahamas Art and Handicraft (Nassau)- This is one of my favorite kinds of stores. The ones that you can walk in day after day and find new things every time you visit. They are located on Shirley Street and have parking right in front of the door so no need to walk more than a couple of feet to enter this little gem of a store. Its an amazing collection of locally made art of all kinds. From paintings, to place mats, to cheese boards, to ceramics, jellies and jams… you name it, they’ve got it, and its made right here in the Bahamas so it doesn’t get any better than that! Opening the door is as though you are opening a treasure chest with amazing treasures spilling out all over the place. It truly is an absolute gem and everyone needs to go there!
3) Island Made Gift Shop (Gregory Town Eleuthera) – Eleuthera is the true Bahamas. For anyone who hasn’t been there, GO! If you have 2 days (more if you are lucky), hop over to Eleuthera, rent a car and just drive. You will see some of the most beautiful sights that the Bahamas has to offer (but that is a whole separate post so I won’t go on anymore). So on one of my first Eleutheran adventures, (every trip to Eleuthera is an adventure) after driving slightly north of the Glass Window bridge, we came upon Gregory Town. Little did I know that there was a glorious shopping mecca in this sleepy out island town. Right in the middle of town, basically right in the middle of the road, so you can’t miss it, is Island Made Gift Shop. Oh the joy you will feel when you step inside the doors. I bought one of my favorite pieces of jewelry there, people stop me everywhere I go to comment on it. A bracelet made of sea fans that have been dipped in resin! Amazing! Inside of this store you will find beautiful jewelry, straw work, christmas decorations, ceramics, clothing (oops, just realized that maybe some of the T-shirts may not be made in the Bahamas but thats ok cause all of the rest of the Bahamian made magic cancels out the T-shirt situation). But they do sell a T-shirt that I just LOVE which encapsulates Eleuthera perfectly. It says “Eleuthera, its not for everyone”, I laugh every time. Because Eleuthera holds a certain quality that I suppose not everyone would appreciate. Its not fancy or manicured, its not easy to locate its world class sites. Its raw and ethereal and, I know that I over use this word, but its MAGICAL! I love it almost as much as I love glitter. And I love glitter A LOT. So there. GO and without a doubt go to Island Made Gift Shop when you are there
ps. Dont buy everything before I get there!