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Animal Crossing: New Horizons guide to unlocking the Shop, the Museum, and more

It’s time to really fill out your island

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The gang celebrates on a bridge in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

When you arrive on your island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons on Switch, there’s going to be very little: Tom Nook’s tent and an empty town square, basically. But if you’ve played an Animal Crossing game before, you know that it’s only a matter of time before this desolate landscape turns into a capitalist metropolis.

In this guide we’ll dive into some of the upgrades you’ll be adding to your town and what you’ll need to do to unlock the Museum, Nook’s Cranny Store, the Clothing Shop, the Campsite, the Resident Services building and more.

How to unlock the Museum

The museum in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

One of the first buildings you’ll unlock and build is Blathers’ Museum. To get Blathers to show up in town, simply donate five fish or bugs to Tom Nook. You can do this on your first day (once you’re given the recipes for your Fishing Rod and Net).

Note: If you are playing on a Switch with other people, only the primary account holder (the first person who started playing) can donate things to Nook. To make progress, you’ll need that primary account holder to finish their five donations.

With the donations in hand, Nook will call his buddy Blathers and tell him to set up shop. You can even decide where on the island the Museum will be built. Starting the next day, Blathers will be at that spot in his tent. But you’ve got one more step to complete before the Museum begins construction.

Blathers will ask you for 15 more donations of unique critters. Once you hit that number, Blathers will stop taking additional donations.

The day after this, you will see a tent around the Museum location. You won’t be able to donate anything on this day.

On the next day (Day 4 if you’ve followed all of these steps), the Museum will fully open.

How to unlock the Nook’s Cranny store

Timmy and Tommy in the Nook’s Cranny store of Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Starting on Day 2, Timmy and Tommy (the two small raccoons in Tom Nook’s tent) will mention that they’re interested in building their own store. To make it happen, they’ll need a bunch of resources: 30 Wood, 30 Softwood, 30 Hardwood, and 30 Iron Nuggets. Iron Nuggets are the hardest of these to come by and may take several days of hitting rocks to gather enough.

Once you deliver the required resources, Nook’s Cranny will be built the following day. Here you’ll find furniture, DIY recipes, and various plants for sale.

How to unlock the Clothing Shop

On the day that Nook’s Cranny is built, walk in the store and you’ll stumble upon Mabel the hedgehog. She mentions that she’s interested in selling clothing on your island and will start showing up in your town square every once in a while.

Her schedule seems to be random. After showing up a few times, she’ll mention that she’s interested in opening a permanent store. She’ll ask you to select the placement, but thankfully she won’t need any additional materials to build.

The store will be under construction on the day after you place the plot down, and it will open on the day after that.

How to unlock the Resident Services building

The Resident Services building in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

After a few days, you’ll be asked to place three housing plots on your island. Over the next three days, those three plots will be filled with new villagers. On the third day, Tom Nook will mention that he’s decided to upgrade the Resident Services tent into a full-on building. You won’t need to do anything. It’ll happen automatically.

The day after Nook makes the announcement, the Resident Services building will be under construction and inaccessible. The day after that, it will open, allowing you to purchase new bridges and ramps for your town.

How to unlock the Campsite

The Campsite in Animal Crossing New Horizons Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

The Campsite unlocks shortly after turning the Resident Services tent into a building. After the upgrade, speak to Tom Nook, who will give you the recipe to make the campsite. By now you should have plenty of materials to make it happen.

How to upgrade Nook’s Cranny

After about one month of game time (it happened for us on Day 29), Timmy and Tommy in Nook’s Cranny will mention that they’re interested in renovating. They’ll perform the renovation.

After that, they’ll sell more furniture pieces per day, as well as cosmetic variants for your tools. They’ll also have two Hot Deals each day instead of just one.

How to unlock terraforming

An Animal Crossing character ponders whether to work on pathing or cliff construction Image: Nintendo EPD/Nintendo via Polygon

Excited to edit your island layout? Well, you’re going to have to work for it.

You’ll need to reach 3-Star Town Status to make it there. We’re not 100% sure on the variables, but we do know that you’ll need 10 villagers living in your town, around 50 bloomed flowers, and very few weeds growing.

Isabelle and Tom Nook will recommend various upgrades as you get closer to your goal, but it seems they’ll only rate the town once per day, so you really only have to check with them in the morning.

Once you’ve reached 3-Star Town Status, a celebratory concert featuring everyone’s favorite naked dog will happen. After the credits roll, you’ll have access to the Island Designer feature on your phone. The functionality is somewhat limited when you first unlock it, but you can buy more features (like digging into cliffs) in the Resident Services building for Nook Miles.

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