Spend your money according to your values. If you value education and you want museums to stay open, visit the Children’s Museum and Planetarium, for example. If you’re thrilled by antiques, visit Way Back Yonder Antiques, Ship Jack Nautical Wares and the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center Gallery Shop, where you can encounter parts of the past on display and even on sale.
At the Lightship Portsmouth Museum you can learn all about the naval history of the town, as well as the Naval Shipyard (currently closed until mid-2016). Try reading about it in a book from the gift shop, or visit the Portsmouth Community Colored Library and get a sense of some of the hard truths of the area’s legacy as a segregated city. There is also a variety of shops-within-a-shop owned by Nettie Fischer—collectively known as Little Shoppes on High. They include a jewelry & accessory store, Glitz by Fritz, a vintage store called Mr. Vintage & Collectibles, a specialty clothing store for young girls called Fancy Stuff, The Painted Lady, and SeaGlass Jewels by Lupe.
Turning our gaze toward food, there is no shortage of high-quality, locally owned restaurants in Portsmouth. One eatery that consistently tops lists of local favorites is Café Europa (below), a restaurant that serves a wide variety of Mediterranean food—largely of the French and Italian variety. This is an excellent choice of restaurant to support if you want this kind of food to continue to be available in Portsmouth, since if it’s not supported, folks will likely tend to opt for more typical American faire.
I asked some friends about their local favorites, and the first place that was named was Jeepney Grill or Jeepney Express, which serves Filipino food. I couldn’t find the web site anywhere, but the legend lives on.
There are plenty of other restaurants to check out, if you’re curious about which Portsmouth eateries to visit next. If you’re looking for somewhere different to go spend a couple hours, visit The Commodore, a restored 1945-era Art Deco theatre that plays first-run movies and has a dining room and gift shop inside, as well. There’s also a casual restaurant inside the theatre that serves appetizers as well as full meals, if you’re looking for a full night out on the town. Lastly, I couldn’t mention noteworthy businesses worthy of supporting without touching on notable independent bookstores in Portsmouth—and here, I admit my bias, since I myself am a poet and avid reader.
First on the list is Jeannie’s Used Books, which has been open since 2001. Jeannie was born in Newmarket, England, having come to the United States when she was twelve, eventually ending up in Portsmouth. She encourages customers to trade their old books in for new ones, and she has over 200,000 books in stock at any given time! The next bookstore I recommend is Book Owl (below), which sells both used and new books. The shop also supports local artists, musicians, and writers, making it feel like an integral part of the local arts community. If you are into comic books, graphic novels, and the like, I recommend visiting Atlantis Games & Comics. They host a very packed calendar schedule full of plenty of in-store gaming events such as D&D Encounters, 80s Movie Monday, and a Sunday Pokemon League!
It’s quite simple, really: if you want the attractions in Old Towne to stay open, consider supporting those businesses financially. This is one of the most tangible ways to effect change: simply by being mindful of where we spend our money, it’s possible to essentially vote with our dollars. So get out and vote, already!