NORTHAMPTON — “The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any one place is always replete with new improvisations,” wrote the late, great urban observer Jane Jacobs. She surely would have spotted this lively choreography on Northampton’s Main Street, from its curving trajectory — it bends nearly 90 degrees — to its human-scale architecture. Vibrant city streets like this one attract with an intricately layered charm: visible history and a bit of mystery, exotic aromas and changing rhythms.
Not coincidentally, these are also the components of a retail paradise. Looking for that perfect pair of hemp slacks? The Hempest has them. A pair of barely worn, high-heeled, fake-leopard ankle boots? Check Sid Vintage or Urban Exchange. A one-of-a-kind jacket worthy of the opera? Skera Gallery’s wearable art to the rescue. A stained-glass lamp Tiffany would have lusted for? Two superb fine-crafts galleries, Don Muller and Pinch, anchor opposite ends of the street. Leggings in colors to bedazzle a peacock? Prowl 25 Central or Monella in Thornes Marketplace, a warren of boutiques and cafes under one roof. Handmade chocolates? Browse Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and Heavenly Chocolates, in Thornes.