The best way to discover unique shops in the downtown area is to put on some walking shoes and roam around. Most of the cute boutiques are in the six-block area bordered by Fifth Street, Main Street, Kansas City Road, and Mount Rushmore Road. Many of the shops are run by owners who are more than happy to talk about their products, about their businesses, and about the best of Rapid City .
As in many cities nationwide, there has been a resurgence in efforts to energize the downtown district and new boutiques are popping up on a regular basis. Before you head out, stop by Alternative Fuel (620 Main St., 605/341-2202, Mon.–Sat. from 7 a.m., Sun. from 10 a.m.) to load up on pastries and coffee. It’s also a great place to check your email, since it offers free Wi-Fi.
In addition to Prairie Edge , the cornerstone downtown shop, there are several galleries in the downtown area, including the James Van Nuys Gallery (516 Sixth St., 605/343-2449, www.jamesvannuys.com , Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m.). Van Nuys is a multitalented musician, writer, and artist of many mediums, including oil, acrylic, and watercolor. Of particular note is his mastery of the beauty of prairie skies. Van Nuys also works with bronze, and he crafted two of the presidents in the City of Presidents  display: Millard Fillmore (the 13th president of the United States, who served 1850–1853) and Franklin Pierce (the 14th President, who served 1853–1857). Nuys’ gallery is also his studio and stopping by will likely result in an opportunity to watch the artist at work.
The Alex Johnson Mercantile (608 St. Joseph St., 800/888-2539 ext. 1238, May–Sept. daily 7:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Oct.–Apr. daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.) carries an eclectic mix of arts and crafts, jewelry, and gift items. It offers lobby access to Hotel Alex Johnson, so it also carries items of interest to the traveler including stamps, newspapers, and souvenirs.
Landstrom Jewelers (620 St. Joseph St., 605/342-6663, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.) is the oldest full-service jewelry store in Rapid City and carries a significant collection of Black Hills Gold. The owner knows his business and is more than happy to chat about what the “Black Hills Gold” designation means.
Reflections of South Dakota Art Gallery (507 Sixth St., 605/341-3234, www.reflectionsofsouthdakota.com , Memorial Day–Sept. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m., Oct.–Memorial Day Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., closed Sun.) features over 30 local and national artists who work in a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, photography, jewelry, pottery, leather, and woodwork. The gallery is owned by photographer Joe Lowe, who serves as the state of South Dakota’s wildland fire coordinator.
Two sports superstores in Rapid City  grapple for your shopping dollars by making a visit to their stores more of an adventure than a shopping excursion.
Scheel’s Sports (1225 Eglin St., 605/342-9033, Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–6 p.m.) in Rapid City is part of an eight-state chain that opened in 1902. The store has over 100,000 square feet of merchandise in its new location off of Highway 79, north and east of town. It’s made shopping for equipment a bit of an expedition, with sports simulators, an archery range, and on-site specialists available to answer questions. Somewhat incongruously, they’ve also added a fudge shop, called Gramma Ginna’s, to the offerings of the store, so if the thought of hiking leaves you hungry, you can fill up on the likes of amaretto, praline, almond, maple walnut, or any of several other flavors of fudge.
Cabela’s (3231 East Mall Dr., 605/388-5600, Jan.–Feb. Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., Mar.–Dec. Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.–6 p.m.) is most famous for their museum-quality animal displays in their retail outlets. The store had humble beginnings as a kitchen table mail-order enterprise in Chappell, Nebraska, back in 1951. Today, the flagship store is located in Sidney, Nebraska, and occupies more than 250,000 square feet. Cabela’s, also famous for its catalog sales, now has retail outlets in more 30 locations throughout the United States. The Rapid City store is a new addition to the Cabela’s family and has more than 80,000 square feet of sports shopping entertainment. It is located off of I-90, exit 61. From there, head north on Elk Vale and take a left on Mall Drive.