Be warned: You'll see your share of tacky T-shirts. And stores advertising silver jewelry on the same sign as novelty ice cream and to-go beer. But if you're worried that Hurricane Ike wiped out the shopping scene on the tough-as-nails Galveston Island, you're wrong. In fact, it's as vibrant as ever. If you're planning a trip to Galveston, here are some great places to consider visiting.
The Style Co.
Oh, I love this store. So much. The first thing that will strike you when you walk through the doors is the odd industrial-yet-inviting vibe. From the clean layout to the intriguing black-and-white art on the walls, the Style Co. feels like the place where the cool kids should be. And the thrifty kids. Because most of the items here — from adorable floral rompers to sweet lace tops to edgy dresses - are in the $30-$50 price range. There's also a full selection of shoes and accessories, including stunning, multicolored embalmed orchid necklaces imported from South Africa. They're only sold at one other shop in the United States - I couldn't resist walking out with one. 701 14th; 409-750-8442; http://galveston.com/style
Lafitte's Beat Gift Shop
If you've been considering a beach house redecoration, this is where you want to be. From cute signs reading "We don't skinny dip - we chunky dunk" to hand-painted window panels, an item or two from Lafitte's Beat Gift Shop will instantly transform the feel of your home. Not looking to redecorate? There's a host of other unique items, such as intricate miniature tea sets in oriental and floral patterns, 99-cent Christmas ornaments (yes, even in April) and products for the most pampered of pets. 2115 Strand; 409-762-7412; http://galveston.com/lafittesbeat
Old Strand Emporium
You can't go wrong with gourmet food when you need a spur of the moment gift. Particularly when that food was made locally with love. Wild Huckleberry Coffee or Fredericksburg Farms Sunday Haus Pancake and Waffle Mix? You bet. Featuring a wide selection of imported food, wine and beer, the Old Strand Emporium is a great place to stock up on hard-to-find, locally sourced products. Just need some wine to go with dinner? Check out the funky bathtub in the middle of the store that offers $6 bottles. 2112 Strand; 409-515-0715; http://galveston.com/oldstrandemporium
The tutus that line the interior of Conversation Pieces look like something from the Black Swan costume room. But they're actually made just for little girls. So are the ribbon-decorated zebra-striped galoshes, handmade bibs and tiny pink T-shirts. Need something for the grown-up set? Try a personalized scented candle, a silly greeting card or a detailed Willow Tree figurine. 2114 Strand; 409-765-0100; www.conversationpiecesgalveston.com
From its early days as an actual bath house, renting bathing suits and offering showers to island visitors, to its current incarnation as a souvenir shop, Murdoch's has been a Galveston landmark. Despite being damaged repeatedly over the years in numerous storms, including Hurricane Ike, the shop still stands in the same spot it always has. Expect to find home decor items, seashells and postcards, as well as other beachy necessities. There's also a deck over the water and drinks available for purchase. 2215 Seawall; 409-762-7478; http://galveston.com/murdochsbathhouse
Rene Wiley Studio and Gallery
Even from the outside, this studio-gallery grabs your attention by displaying artwork that features vibrant, quintessential beach themes that manage to be classic but not kitschy. Think gorgeously reproduced boating scenes, lovely interpretations of the Texas landscape and marine life hand-carved out of oak. Stroll through the gallery, attend a special event or even sign up for one of the occasional workshops that are offered. 2128 Postoffice; 409-750-9077; http://renewileygallery.fineartstudioonline.com
When you ask women where they shop in Galveston, the first store they're likely to mention is ha.ba's. That's because this boutique is filled with things you'll love, no matter what your style, at affordable prices. From tops to purses to belts to jewelry, there's a little something for everyone. And it's all fashion forward. 2213 Postoffice; 409-762-2214; http://galveston.com/habas