The Fantastic Four (Shops)

Kate Jones

My first day in town at Stratford was a little overwhelming. A new country, a new group of people, and dozens of new shops and cafes to explore. During the free time I had between shows, talk backs, and workshops, I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go first. There were so many different options, ranging from bookstores to cafes to quirky antique shops. Throughout the 10 days I spent in Stratford I managed to visit a good number of shops and cafes, and the four following were my favorites to visit.

Fanfare Books

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One of my favorite things to do back home is to go read books, whether it’s at Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books, or a library. So of course, one of the first places I went to in Stratford was a bookstore. Specifically, I went to Fanfare Books. A fairly large shop, I immediately loved the look of Fanfare. Shelves that reach the ceiling are stacked with books of all kinds, from poetry to fantasy to literary criticism to biographies and graphic novels. I even found a copy of Othello in the form of a comic book. 

There’s a lovely small bookstore feel to the store as you walk around, and it’s a little warm from the door being left open to invite people inside. Some days there’s also a few tables full of books outside the store for passers by to peruse, which was how the books store originally caught my attention. And once inside, the books kept my attention. There was a large range, not only in genre but also in age of the books. Some were older but there also current bestsellers such as Crazy Rich Asians and one of Cassandra Clare’s new books. 

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

My go to sweet shop was actually the place I visited the most, apart from the theatres of course. The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory first caught my attention simply because of its name. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and this place did not disappoint. From the display of fudge to the rows of ice cream and shelves of candy, the RMCF was full of enough sweets that I could have visited everyday and still found something new to try. 

One of my favorites from here was the sangria sorbet, hough I also really liked the peanut butter fudge.. They also had caramel covered apples and seafoam, both of which looked sweet enough to require a large glass of milk. Their fudge collection was also impressive, with at least 10 different flavors. Some of the more memorable ones were double chocolate, vanilla birthday cake, cappuccino, and maple syrup.

The Pulp 

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The Pulp was another one of the places I visited on multiple occasions. Right next to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, it’s a nice spot for a light lunch or afternoon smoothie. While I was there I would usually get smoothies, specifically the creamsicle. It’s very heavy on the banana flavor, but I really enjoyed it. The Pulp also has a nice busy but not crowded atmosphere, with cute decorations and several Don’t Feed the Plants signs that I loved. They also have recycling bins easily accessible, along with paper straws.

Balzac’s Coffee Roasters

The last place on my list is one of Stratford’s many little coffee shops. This one first caught my eye because of its name and I went in simply because the name made me laugh. However once I was inside I quite liked it. The decorations, desert display, and the back patio gave it a quaint kind of feel. While not quiet, it was never loud enough to make it hard to hear. I particularly liked this place because there was a little table I could write at while drinking lemonade.