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Best Boise Shopping

AOL PICK from our Editors
Yes, you can do all your shopping at Boise Towne Center and the big box stores along the interstate. In our opinion, however, the Boise shopping experience comes from spending a little more time and walking or biking around downtown. Downtown Boise still has chains, but they’re more along the lines of Title Nine and Urban Outfitters than Old Navy. BoDo also has a great series of outdoor markets held from late spring through early fall. Boise is a city of artists and, although lacking in fancy galleries representing nationally known painters and sculptors, it has an abundance of galleries and shops selling up-and-coming local artists. If you're interested in original art, consider checking out these galleries while doing some Boise shopping.

Boise Co-Op Wine Shop

Neighborhood: Hyde Park

You could spend several days visiting the 20-plus wineries in the Boise area—which we heartily recommend, but understand not everyone will have the time to do this—or you could pop into the Boise Co-op Wine Shop. Twenty-five years ago it was just a small department inside the Co-op, but today it has its own storefront; a necessity since it carries 3,600 wines from Idaho and around the world. Staff is exceptionally excited to talk about—and taste—them all. Free tastings go on every Friday and Saturday (4:30-6:30PM and 2-4PM, respectively), so be sure to stop by if you're shopping in Boise.

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Boise Co-Op Wine Shop  

Eyes of the World Imports

Neighborhood: Linen District

Bits of Boise are very Boulder-esque. Both cities have a healthy, active population. Both are at the foot of a mountain range, with skiing, mountain biking, whitewater and hiking easily accessible from downtown. Both have plenty of New Agey shops happy to teach customers about “smudging” and Tibetan prayer flags while the scent of Nag Champa wafts through the air. Eyes of the World Imports, the difficult-to-miss bright red building in the Linen District, is Boise’s most eclectic (and least self-important) foreign import shop. Asian wall hangings, African masks, Indian clothing, hand-painted mirrors from Southeast Asia, Japanese ceramic sake sets, Tibetan singing bowls and 40 feet of cases filled with ethnic jewelry—find all this and more here. Torn with all the choices? The store has a drop-in meditation room, which may be meant to help you decide what to buy at this unique Boise shopping destination.

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Eyes of the World Imports  

Record Exchange

Neighborhood: Downtown

Looking for music by an Iranian guitar player, a Wyoming alt-country singer or an Israeli jazz saxophonist? The Record Exchange, which has been around for more than 30 years and might be one of the very last brick-and-mortar record stores left, is your place and one of the best Boise shopping experiences if you love music. It’s Idaho’s largest independent music store, selling new and used CDs and records. There’s even a wall of used cassettes. Sorry, no 8-tracks. It does have a sweet selection of T-shirts and action figures, though.

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Record Exchange  

Idaho Indie Works

Neighborhood: Downtown
Get something uniquely Idaho that has nothing to do with potatoes at this new art co-op. Twenty-some (and this number will grow) artists from across the state have come together in this downtown space to sell their wildly diverse handmade products. Lakeside Lavender grows and harvests lavender and then makes it into bath and body products. 52 Freckles makes Germ plushies—yes, you read that right, germ plushies—that come complete with an educational card describing the germ or virus the stuffed animal is named after. (Hey, if you can have Ugly Dolls, why not stuffed animals named for germs?) The same artist also makes and sells “Friendly Sock Monsters.” Put your dirty socks in one, throw it in the washer and never lose another sock again. Miss Courageous repurposes Legos, making rings, earrings, business card holders and belt buckles out of the toys. Beach Chicken Designs uses old book covers to make journals and recipe books. Artists, many of whom sell on Etsy.com as well as at this co-op, also make clothing, housewares, pottery and paintings for those who make Idaho Indie Works their Boise shopping goal.

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Idaho Indie Works  

Capital City Public Markets

Neighborhood: Downtown

If you find yourself wanting to buy something, but you’re not sure what, Boise’s Capital City Public Market is your best bet. The first Thursday of every month from May through October is the (what else?) First Thursday Art Market (4-8PM). Many of the same artists—sculptors, jewelers, gourd painters (!), watercolorists, knitters, people who turn duct tape into beautiful, and sometimes functional, objets d’art—return two days later for the Saturday Morning Market (9:30AM-1:30PM, April - December). The Saturday markets also bring in farmers and specialty food vendors, but it’s still more arts and crafts than food. The Thursday Farmer’s Market is 4-8PM from June through September and an amazing place to go shopping in Boise.

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Capital City Public Markets  
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