***Just in time for your holiday shopping consideration, I start a new series focusing on independent retail & dining establishments found in pedestrian-friendly areas of the Triangle. Bring along friends & family and spend a day exploring our cities on foot while supporting local small businesses.***
As the holiday season approaches, merchants in downtown Wake Forest eagerly await completion of the new sidewalks and the envisioned streetscape to take shape along South White Street, anticipating the shopping crowd’s return to downtown venues. Shoppers can spend a full day exploring downtown, visiting a variety of retail shops, browsing galleries, eating at local dining establishments and even knocking over a few pins at a new bowling alley. I spent some time browsing shops along South White Street, selecting a few to share with readers who may not be familiar with the local options available in Wake Forest. So, let’s get shopping!
Have a book lover on your holiday gift list? Storyteller’s Book Store offers a selection of new (and a few used) books across every genre (including cookbooks – I checked!), for every age. The comfortable furnishings invite us to take a seat and browse a few titles from the shelves, pondering which will make the best gift.
Across White Street, the newly opened Mimosa Home & Gift is all dressed up for the holidays and features many home decorating items and gifts that are manufactured domestically. I found what appears to be this season’s trend in trees, a topsy-turvy upside down tree. Stop in the shop to see for yourself.
Each time I visit downtown Wake Forest, I have to stop in Old Magnolia Trading Co. to see what’s in store at the “purveyor of all things old and cool”. The shop owners have been busy putting up Christmas trees and decorations that are enchanting and inspiring. Upon entering the store, a Grinch-themed tree will evoke a broad grin and draw visitors into the shop to find more delights.
Interested in adding to your ornament collection? You’ll find ornaments to complement any decor, from silver shimmers, to sea greens and aqua ocean themes, to more traditional, old Buicks to adorn your tree or to give to the classic car fan. I’d suggest budgeting the better part of an hour in Old Magnolia to make sure you don’t miss any of the unique items found inside.
Just down the street, at For Old Times Sake Antiques, you’ll take a step back in time while you browse the vast selection of goods from eras gone by. The store has expanded to 4,000 square feet, opening a second floor filled with even more antique clothing, jewelry, dishes, signs, furniture and more. Have an antique collector on your gift list? Just ask the helpful shop owners, the Cashwells, for suggestions to please.
Further along White Street, you’ll come across a “mini mall” within The Cotton Company, a collection of more than 60 shopping booths under a single roof. Vendor booths at The Cotton Company sell items such as jewelry, clothing, accessories, home decor, as well as toys and stuffed animals for the youngsters. The Cotton Company is home to artist studios too, and shoppers will find paintings, pottery and more hand-crafted items in the artist gallery.
Continue along White Street, crossing Elm Avenue, to visit two more not-to-be-missed downtown venues. First, stop in GC5 Vintage & Gifts, a shop specializing in mid-century vintage items (think Mad Men). I always feels as though I’m walking into my parent’s living room (as recalled from childhood) when I step inside GC5 Vintage. It’s a fun trip back in time, though mixed in with the 50s and 60s decor and clothing, shoppers can find contemporary gift items as well.
A few steps away, you’ll find Lede Studio & Gallery where seven local metalsmiths create one-of-a-kind jewelry, perfect for the person on your list who appreciates a sleek, modern, contemporary aesthetic. Though browsing the pieces on the website will whet one’s appetite to see more, an in-person visit is best to gain appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship of the jewelry at Lede. Have something special in mind? Talk with studio “ring leader” Ginger Allen Meek about custom jewelry creations.
For foodie fans on your gift list, browse the downtown food specialty shops like Sweeties Candy Shop for special stocking stuffers, Olde English Tea Room for loose leaf tea and gift items, and NC General Stores for jams, BBQ rubs and sauces and nuts, all from NC farmers and producers.
Dining options along White Street abound. Start your shopping day with a hand-crafted coffee beverage from Wake Forest Coffee. Stop for a lunch break at Lemon Tree Cafe or an ice cream side trip to Lumpy’s. Take a break at the end of the day to enjoy a local brew at White Street Brewing Company. Though not in downtown, it’s a short drive to Fig Cafe & Wine Bar on South Main Street for fine dining experience in a charming setting (read more about Fig Cafe at Demandy’s blog).
Lede Studio and many of the businesses noted (as well as several other businesses and galleries along White Street) participate in Art After Hours, a monthly celebration of the arts held on the second Friday evenings. Downtown Wake Forest has planned several holiday events in the coming month, including a downtown holiday open house and historic home tour on December 1st, a lighting ceremony on December 7th and the downtown Christmas parade on December 8th. Even if you don’t live in Wake Forest, consider a day trip to visit one of our Triangle neighbors and explore the businesses that make the Wake Forest community special.
Do you use the Foursquare app on your smart phone? I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots in Wake Forest (including all of the above and more) and you can find the list here. Feel free to save the list (and share with friends) for reference next time you visit Wake Forest.