In this day and age of mass chain stores, Portland  has a refreshingly high ratio of independent, cleverly stocked shops. Odds and ends made by craftspeople both local and global cram the shelves at Abacus American Craft Gallery (44 Exchange St., 207/772-4880, www.abacusgallery.com , 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Thu.; 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.). Keep an eye out for the beautiful handmade jewelry and whimsical ceramic seagulls made nearby.
If you’re planning to picnic in the area (or just want a top-notch snack), head to Browne Trading Market (262 Commercial St., 207/775-7560, www.browne-trading.com , 10 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun. during summer only) for specialty noshes like imported cheeses, caviar, and smoked seafood.
Score tunes by everyone from Beethoven to Billy Idol at Bull Moose Music (151 Middle St., 207/780-6424, www.bullmoose.com , 10 a.m.–11 p.m. daily), as much a hangout as it is CD and movie store.
Small but cleverly stocked, the women-owned and -operated Condom Sense (424 Fore St., 207/871-0356, www.qualitycondoms.com , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon.–Wed.; 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Thu.; 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri.–Sat.; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) peddles everything from the obvious (condoms) to the surprising (political magnets).
There’s an impressive selection of reading material—from used religious autobiography to poetry and new crossword-puzzle journals—at Cunningham Books (188 State St., 207/775-2246, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.).
Famous for flannel plaid overshirts and preppy sporting gear, The L. L. Bean Factory Store (542 Congress St., 207/772-5100, www.llbean.com , 9 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.) makes it all available at a heavily discounted price.
Buy some of the state’s true treasures at Maine Potters Market (376 Fore St., 207/774-1633, www.mainepottersmarket.com , 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.), a cooperative owned and operated by 13 Maine  potters.