Shopping on State Street

Fun, unique boutiques on Madison’s downtown pedestrian thoroughfare

Madison’s best-known passageway is State Street, a pedestrian thoroughfare with many independently owned restaurants, watering holes and boutiques. When shopping, take notice of these one-of-a-kind gems. This quick dozen is but a beginning: Downtown are hundreds of retail businesses.
  • 01 of 12
    341 State St.
    608-251-3242

    Why bother mentioning a pharmacy? It’s a worker cooperative that began as a University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin Student Association project to provide easy access to health info and affordable medications. Now the inventory also includes bulk-priced herbs and teas, Chinese and homeopathic remedies, environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and personal care products. “Health care for people, not profit” remains a business motto.

  • 02 of 12
    230 State St.
    608-256-6755

    Fine art at reasonable prices is a mission for this gallery that opened in 1972. Expect jewelry, home décor, whimsical and practical interpretations of art created around the world.

  • 03 of 12
    220 State St.
    608-257-3644

    The late Irwin and Bob Goodman brothers were among Madison’s most generous philanthropists, and now a longtime employee operates their fine jewelry store, which has been in business since 1933. It is the city’s oldest jeweler, and the store remains in its original location.

  • 04 of 12
    230 State St.
    608-255-7372

    The business name says it all: The affordable, unusual, funny and artsy inventory make it easy to treat yourself to a little something, stuff a stocking, welcome a new baby, reward a good deed or flirt with a new friend.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12
    511 State St.
    608-630-9030

    A boutique of edibles tempts the sweet tooth of all ages. Candy, especially chocolate, popcorn mixes and 40-plus types of cupcakes (flavors rotate daily) are for sale in small and party-sized quantities.

  • 06 of 12
    227 State St.
    608-257-3222

    Don’t underestimate the splash of possibilities at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art gift shop. Gifts for children, lovers, art enthusiasts and others are stocked in the colorful inventory, which also includes books by local authors and a selection of classy, clever greeting cards.

  • 07 of 12
    524 State St.
    608-257-2400

    We used to call this kind of place a head shop in the 1970s, when The Pipefitter first opened. Now those types of accessories probably fall under the category of “drinking and entertainment accessories.” Also for sale: gag gifts, risqué birthday cards, unusual gifts and fun sports fan apparel.

  • 08 of 12
    410 State St.
    608-257-1018

    Fashionable clothing is recycled at this edgy resale shop, whose second Madison location is 6664 Odana Rd. (Market Square). Milwaukee is home to two other ReThreads shops. Owners promise prospects for a “one-of-a-kind outfit for a once-in-a-lifetime price.”

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12
    417 State St.
    608-255-2071

    A hat for every head – that sums up 80 percent of the stock at this specialty store, which also sells leather items that are made by hand locally. Look for dapper chapeaus, sassy berets, wide brims and baseball caps in the revamped Victorian house that has became the business home in 1980.

  • 10 of 12
    521 State St.
    608-661-4350

    “Sconnie” is an affectionate nickname for Wisconsin and all that our spirit and lifestyle implies. Here you’ll find clothing with a Sconnie logo for tots to elders, often in team colors: red and white or green and gold.

  • 11 of 12
    319 State St.
    608-251-4051

    Chuck Bauer and Chuck Beckwith were selling soaps, lotions and potions with alluring and exotic scents way before it became popular with mainstream consumers. The pair have been working with designer and small-batch product manufacturers since business began in 1972.

  • 12 of 12
    711 State St.
    608-257-3784

    College students buy textbooks here, but this also is the city’s largest department store for clothing, accessories, gifts and supplies that contain some type of UW or Badger logo. You’ll find infant to plus sizes for adults here.