Even with the ongoing construction project in downtown Oak Bluffs, there’s calm among the chaos to be found in a trio of shops offering items to inspire, illuminate, and encourage meditation. Step inside any one of this troika of treasure troves, and you’ll be transported to another world.
Sanctuary, as the name implies, offers a calming, soothing environment where one can shop for a wide range of items for “mind, body, and soul.” At Sanctuary you’ll find all sorts of inspirational gift ideas including candles, carved stones, suncatchers, jewelry, statuary, and a multitude of wooden signs and banners bearing affirmational or humorous sayings.
The shop also carries lots of Martha’s Vineyard branded items like keepsake jewelry, drinking glasses, carved stones, and beach glass, and mugs and coasters featuring the town sign images. Sanctuary even offers its exclusive line of reclaimed weathered wood photo frames for spotlighting your Vineyard memories.
Sanctuary’s selection of carved stones includes choices with soothing messages for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one or pet. The store also carries sympathy and recovery greeting cards, along with those for special occasions.
Looking for a truly unique gift? How about a wind chime that serves double duty as an attractive wooden, Asian-inspired mobile with a small hand-hammered brass gong that adds a soothing vibrating sound when struck by a hanging disk? Or, for the beach lover, Sanctuary offers two sizes of rock cairns, featuring stacked river rocks secured by a steel rod. Each is a one-of-a-kind treasure.
There’s a cultural oasis to be found at the top of Circuit Ave. Third World Trading is a great place to browse even if you’re not looking for anything in particular. When asked what the store carries, employee Samantha Cameron replies, “A little bit of everything,” and she’s not exaggerating.
Every space in the store is utilized to showcase the eclectic range of goods. Shelves are stocked with warm alpaca sweaters and blankets. Wooden tables feature an inviting array of small statuary (Buddhas, carved stone animals, and more), saris, and silk scarves. All kinds of jewelry, from costume to fine artisan pieces, can be found throughout the store — in the counter case, hanging against the wall, and on tabletops, where you’ll also find a large selection of beads. There are racks of clothing — lots of linen and fun, unique patterns. Colorful embroidered and patchwork bags hang on hooks. Even the ceiling is utilized with wind chimes and hanging wooden sculptures adding to the overall fun, funky vibe. It’s kind of like walking into an outdoor bazaar in an exotic location, except the wares on offer are from points all over the globe.
“A worldly and fun boutique,” is how Third World is described on the website, and there really is something for everyone, including kids’ clothes and toys; herbal salves, tinctures, and oils, including CBD products; one-of-a-kind, fun, fabric-covered hair clips; hand-embroidered wallets and pouches; Day of the Dead and Southwestern cultural items; and much, much more. Two local jewelers are represented in the shop — Jamie Rogers, who makes colorful stained glass earrings and pendants, and Adam Thibodeaux, who works with quahog shells.
It would be impossible to take it all in during one visit, and owner Lori Katsounakis adds new merchandise all the time.
Katsounakis notes that this winter has been particularly challenging in terms of attracting customers (although the sidewalk in front of the store is now in place), but she’s stayed open mainly to keep her staff of two employed.
Another fun trip to foreign parts can be found on the other side of Circuit at Glimpse of Tibet, where you’ll find, according to the Facebook page, “authentic handicrafts from the Himalayan region.” The two-room shop’s inventory includes clothing, jewelry, bags, all types of Hindu, Buddhist, and Zen sculptures, tarot cards, loads of books relating to spirituality and New Age principles, and loads more.
The shop is another great place to sniff around — both literally and figuratively — as there’s also a good selection of incense and smudge sticks, along with henna products.
Owner Choying Tangdol, who is from Tibet, is always very welcoming and quick to laugh. “People always say to me, ‘What don’t you have?’” he says, and that’s about right. The room that one enters from the street is devoted to fashion and accessories, while the second room — filled with all types of icons of Eastern religions — Buddhas, Ganeshas, Shivas, sacred frog and rat statuary — is a great spot to just relax and enjoy a meditative experience.
Normally Tangdol and his family would be in Asia this time of year, but with COVID restricting travel, he has kept the shop open for the past three winters. Although business is slower than usual owing to the new construction, Tangdol has a good attitude, which is not surprising considering his Buddhist background. He expresses gratitude for the work crew, saying, “They’re doing a great job,” and, paraphrasing a Buddhist expression, says, “If anything has a solution, you do the solution. If there’s no solution, there’s no use worrying.”
Other gift shops and boutiques open right now include Stefanie Wolf Designs, Basics, the Black Dog, and soon, Laughing Bear, which closed for a short break and will reopen in April.
A trip to Circuit Ave. can provide a fun expedition with treasures as your reward — well worth the somewhat adventurous trek. And really, it’s not all that inconvenient to find parking and navigate the street right now. The sidewalks are nearing completion already.
Sanctuary, 42 Circuit Ave. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 4 pm. Third World Trading Co., 52 Circuit Ave. Open Saturdays and Sundays at noon; Glimpse of Tibet, 39 Circuit Ave. Open most weekends.