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Best Key West Shopping

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The hordes of souvenir shops along Duval Street compete for attention. Their cluttered windows and doors display T-shirts that have one mission: stop passersby in their tracks and elicit a reaction. They do this by sporting raunchy messages or sexual innuendos appropriate only as bachelor party gifts. Fortunately, that’s not the only retail in town. Key West does have the usual resort wear and gift store scene; you just may have to look a few blocks off of Duval to find it. That said, you’re likely to find that resort wear boutique next door to a shop offering clothing for transvestites or dominatrixes. That’s the fun of Key West: where you’re never quite sure what you’re going to see next.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Store

Neighborhood: Old Town
Mention Key West and many visitors think Jimmy Buffett still lives here. He moved up the peninsula to Palm Beach years ago, but one of his stores provides official Margaritaville merchandise. Loaded with logo items, including T-shirts, jewelry, books, CDs and accessories, Parrotheads will be in heaven. There’s also a sprinkling of crafts by local artists.

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Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville Store  

Gallery on Greene

Neighborhood: Old Town
Scattered throughout Key West are art galleries, some filled with fine art, some with stuff that’s not quite so fine. One of the best art galleries is Gallery on Greene, not surprisingly located on Greene Street just north of Duval at Simonton. Their displays highlight Key West’s history and character. The collection includes contemporary fine art by master artists, cartoonists and Pulitzer Prize winners, including Jeff MacNelly, David Hume Kennerly, Mike Peters and Tony Auth. The presentation of photographs, sculptures and paintings will appeal to casual buyers, as well as collectors. It’s a nice place to step out of the heat for a few minutes and browse, too.

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Gallery on Greene  

Purely Paradise Soaps

Neighborhood: Old Town
Tropical soaps in the shape of flip-flops? Browsing your supermarket soap aisle has never been like this. Handmade organic lotions and soaps are made from goat’s milk, mango butter, aloe and honey bases. One of the sweet scents is called Tropical Vacation, a mix of mango, coconut and pineapple. Take one home and put it on the vanity counter; when you’ve had a stressful day, just pick it up and inhale to melt the stress away. They even make special soaps for your dog.

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Purely Paradise Soaps  

The Key West Winery

Neighborhood: Old Town
If Dean Martin never visited here, he should have. This is vino heaven, with award-winning fruit wines such as Key lime, orange, tangerine, carrot (yuck), mango, blackberry and others. They also have unusual wine mixes, like orange with coffee beans, tomato and jalapeno, and other unexpected concoctions.

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The Key West Winery  

The Saltwater Angler

Neighborhood: Old Town
This “fishing shop” is not your average tackle shack that reeks of mullet and live bait. Clean, palatial and classy, the store faces the waterfront. The theme is fly fishing, but fine marine artwork, jewelry, stained glass and even wind chimes make this worth a stop even if you’re not an angler. There’s a large selection of travel and fishing clothes and, of course, they offer a professional guide service for anglers of all levels.

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The Saltwater Angler  

Key West Conch Traders

Neighborhood: Old Town
OK, so you were a little too buzzed your last day in Key West and you forgot to pick up a little something for someone; no worry, you can go online and order one of nearly 250 items from the Florida Keys. Hint: The Key Lime cheesecake pie is incredible, with that tart/sweet taste you only get from Key limes.

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Key West Conch Traders  

Fast Buck Freddie's

Neighborhood: Old Town
We’ve never walked into this store without staying awhile, simply because it’s the standard-bearer of all legit souvenir shops in town. Curiosities crowd every shelf, and along with the expected flamingo-shaped watering cans and cutesy signs to hang in your garden, you may find some unusual things you can visualize in your own home, maybe a fan with its housing shaped like an elephant or a beautifully rendered rattan chair and ottoman. There’s even a department called Tropical Trash. Something is going to catch your eye and you won’t leave without it, because it’s unlikely to appear in another store down the street. Service is prompt and never pushy, an immediate message that management knows the importance of repeat business.

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Fast Buck Freddie's  

The Official Conch Republic Store

Neighborhood: Old Town
Long before the governor of Texas starting talking secession, on April 23, 1982, then-Mayor Dennis Wardlow stood in Mallory Square and proclaimed that the Florida Keys were an independent nation, thereafter to be called the Conch Republic, with Key West as the “new nation’s capital.” The audacious announcement was made tongue in cheek, to be sure, as a protest against the U.S. Border Patrol blockading U.S. 1, which effectively isolated the Florida Keys from the mainland. The stunt drew international attention, the Border Patrol backed off and, of course, the Keys never seceded. The memory still resonates with the independent-minded Conchs of Key West, and this store commemorates the move with Conch Republic flags, books, music, clothing, jewelry and loads of souvenirs.

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The Official Conch Republic Store  

1100 Sodu Gallery

Neighborhood: Old Town
Five local artists who had been owners, subjects or partners in a dozen Keys galleries pooled their considerable talents to open 1100 Sodu in 2007. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and you have all the time you want to soak in the depictions of local scenes as you move from easel to easel. In addition to canvases the gallery displays photographs, pottery, jewelry, stained glass and even furniture.

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1100 Sodu Gallery  

Gingerbread Square Gallery

Neighborhood: Old Town
This lovely gallery is located inside an historic two-story frame house decorated with a little gingerbread trim, overlooking a quaint courtyard. The gallery represents both local and internationally known artists who work in a variety of media: blown glass, porcelain, ceramic and, of course, acrylics, oils and watercolors. There are wonderful vignettes of Key West scenes: local architecture as well as depictions of tropical culture.

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Gingerbread Square Gallery  
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