Naturally, with all the tourists descending on town, there is no shortage of Northwoods-themed shops selling loon coffee mugs and the like, though thankfully many shops lie beyond the generic.
Internationally renowned nature photographer Jim Brandenburg lives in Ely  when not traveling the globe for National Geographic, and much of his Boundary Waters work is sold at the Brandenburg Gallery (11 Sheridan St. E., 877/493-8017, www.jimbrandenburg.com , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.).
Dozens of local and regional artists not lucky enough to have their own galleries sell their creations at the Kess Gallery (130 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-5066, www.kessgallery.com , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun.).
Crafted from moose hide using a Cree design, Steger Mukluks (33 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-3322, www.mukluks.com , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun., reduced hours in the off-season) are not only half the weight and twice as warm as regular winter boots, but they are fashionable enough for Elle and Mademoiselle magazines.
For the rest of your body take a look at Wintergreen Designs (205 Sheridan St. E., 218/365-6602, www.wintergreendesigns.com , 9 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Sun. summer, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Sun. rest of year). They stock anoraks and other outdoor apparel with a distinctive ribbon edging made in Ely  since the 1980s.
To outfit your own sauna and pick up local souvenirs, stop by Mealey’s Gift and Sauna (124 Central Ave. N., 218/365-3639, www.mealeysinely.com , 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Thurs., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Fri.–Sun.).
Lisa’s Second-Floor Bookstore (105 Central Ave. N., 218/365-6745, 6 a.m.–8 p.m. daily summer, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily winter) at the Piragis Northwoods Company has an immense selection of outdoor-related titles.
Chapman Street Books & Prairie Fire Tobacco (139 Chapman St. E., 218/365-2212, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Tues.–Fri., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sat., closed Sun.–Mon.) is a decent used book store and also sells imported tobacco.