I’m a lifelong townie. From Signal Hill end of the East Coast Trail, I can see (generally) the house I was born, to where I went to school and Uni, where we live now and where the kids went to school, where they work… you get the idea. I love this place.
And of course we LOVE summer in the City.
It’s not predictable. Depending on the month, week, day, and even time of day, summer in St. John’s is a different adventure. It could be too hot. Or too cold. Could be sunshine or rain, drizzle and fog
There’s always a lot. And all the exciting things are good to have and live and show off from time to time.
But there is also the everyday.
What can be more everyday than grocery shopping? That act of thinking what you want to eat, making a list of what you need, and going to get it. If you're visiting friends, or at an Air B&B, that little grocery shop might be the funnest thing on your whole trip.
And then there's the souvenirs. In some cultures it's rude to return without a little present. You can broaden souvenir, of course, to be gifts. Maybe a present for a host, or a birthday, or an anniversary. Or maybe today is the day to get that thing you need.
Townies is all over it.
If it’s Saturday, Just go! St. John’s Farmers’ Market at 245 Freshwater Road, St. John’s. Opens at 9.
Most weeks you’ll see Farmer Del of Oliver’s Farm in her white Farm Truck. Her sausages are spectacular - if you go early you might get some. Also eggs. And chicken.
Visit Emily The Waffle Lady for, you guessed it, waffles. They are delicious and amazing and fun with fresh fruit toppings, whipped cream and, if you’re into it, sprinkles. Also the BEST ice cream and lemonade. Highly recommend a vanilla cone, and a tub or two to take home.
Get locally-farm goodies from Ripple Trail Farm. Depending on the time of season, you could be going home with annuals, seedlings, or full grown produce. It’s all good!
Most weeks at the Farmers Market you’ll see Shawn Dawson of Barking Kettle. He’s a forager with so much love and respect for the Newfoundland outdoors. He makes magic happen! Check out his book The Forager’s Dinner published by Boulder Books so you can get on the go with your own townie cooking experience.
There’s everything! Along with great food options, there’s the hustle bustle vibe that you really don’t get anywhere else in town - happy people, so many delicious scents, and cool things to do - like free yoga from students of Shakti Yoga Method.
For summer 2023 bits of Water Street will be closed to motor traffic, and the Ped Mall will be on the go. Although it’s not the coolest of names for a street that’s lit - the Pedestrian Mall - people love being there all the same.
When it comes to souvenirs, we love bringing people to the TVAL store/workshop. In the Swedish tradition, it’s a shop where beautiful skincare products are made and meld the European aesthetic with Newfoundlandia. They lead in green practices (refill stations for soap, shampoo, creams!) and complement their hand-crafted skincare with an evolving selection of cool and interesting locally-made things.
Imagine - this sleek Swedish-inspired soap shop sells the very coolest in Newfoundland craft. There might be a tea-cozy. Or there might be a placemat or a pair of trigger mitts. Or a hooked rug.
Perfect host gifts! Perfect souvenirs. Just saying. Right there.
Same for Johnny Ruth where you’ll find Kim Winsor and the JR crew. Their love of community shows up in the store. Along with good, well-made clothing lines (including local designers!), there could be a flash mob. And there’s always great gifts, paperworks, and ideas for building a better world in the mix. The t-shirts are legendary. Gifts!
If you’re looking to get special things for special people, you’ll find something for everyone at Posie Row & Co, 210 Duckworth Street. The heritage building at the corner of Duckworth and Holloway is restored to its glory, giving a sense of St. John’s history with its high ceilings, stained glass and endless staircase. It’s worth a stop for that alone.
But like most things, the best is inside. There’s Posie Row itself, which features a tonne of cool things from jewelry to bags to plants to gifts to fun books to dresses, with a pretty good count on local makers and an emphasis on fair trade.
Then there’s the & Co part. Under that same grand roof, up that staircase is home to other great local companies. Check out Yellow Rose for their hand-dyed and printed clothing and other little treasures. Pop in to Dear Dawcy & Ritual Botanicals - gorgeous refresh spray for wild curling hair is my go-to - but there’s also clothing, jewelry, accessories and tonnes of good stuff.
You learn a lot about a place through its food stores. Yes, St. John’s has the big and bigger supermarkets, but there’s no good townie experience like checking out the smaller food shops.
Something not good is that these shops are getting harder and harder to find, but happily we get to talk about two stores that are thriving. And in fact, the area around Gower from Kings Road to Colonial Street is a bit of a Foodie Corner.
On Gower at Colonial check out Food For Thought. This is the downtown grocery store and it’s like a melding of Whole Foods, Bulk Barn, and local farms. Gluten free, vegan, local, international…. It’s all here. Prepare to browse! And the building is very very cool.
Heading westerly on the other side of Gower, you’ll come across Halliday’s Meats. Mainly it’s a butcher shop - go to the counter and they’ll cut what you want how you want it - and many say it’s the best beef in town. But also it’s a grog and conf. These used to be staples on every second corner of the capital, but now the independent family-owned shops are few and far between. Pick up what you like and buy something over the counter for the fun of it!
Kim Todd is a townie and Founder of thegreenrock and Guide to the Good. She's been lots of places but has always lived in St. John's, but one spring when she was about 35 she was away and realized what people meant by spring. Her dog Ija is her best pal.
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