***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 fun day exploring our cities on foot while supporting local small businesses.***
Have you visited downtown Apex lately? Business seems to be booming, with shops and restaurants occupying nearly every store front along Salem Street between Center & Chatham Streets. It’s a short stroll from a sporting goods store at one end of the block to a craft beer shop at the other, with many more shopping and dining opportunities in between. Let’s take a virtual stroll (via blog pictures) and explore some of the unique establishments that occupy Salem Street.
Tobacco Road Outdoors* carries gear and apparel for use in the great outdoors. Have an avid hiker or camper on your gift list? Just ask the friendly, helpful staff at Tobacco Road Outdoors about footwear, clothing and packs that might delight that outdoorsy person. The new owners at Tobacco Road Outdoors have added skate boards & gear to the shop inventory, and plan to expand board sports selections in the future when warmer weather makes paddle boarding a fun activity.
*Update (Dec. 9, 2012) – Since the original post date, Tobacco Road Outdoors has changed the business name to Apex Outfitter & Board Co, reflecting the new owner’s vision.
Just a couple of doors down Salem Street, you’ll find Lilly’s Home Furnishings, easily identifiable by the festive reindeer and snowman display at the store entrance. Step inside and you’ll find yourself in a winter wonderland, where whimsical polar bears strike playful poses on a spiral staircase display. Lilly’s carries home decor, art and garden items, as well as gift items such as soaps and candles. You’ll also find the store mascots, Calla and Lily, quietly perched in their gilded cage, watching the shoppers go by.
Need a special outfit for upcoming holiday parties? Then stop in Sophie & Mollies boutique to find just the right dress and all the accessories. Open just about one year, this welcoming shop has become a favorite among fashionistas for the colorful clothes, stylish shoes and attentive service. While browsing, I spied a couple of oversized handbags that I might need to add to my wish list, and perhaps a necklace (or three) too.
I love the diversity of shops found along Salem Street, including GreenPea Baby, a boutique store carrying most any item expecting or new parents might need. Shoppers will find clothing, toys and baby care items, as well as furnishings and the assistance new parents might need to create a beautifully designed and functional room for baby. Many of the products found in the store are organic or are selected as healthy options, fulfilling GreenPea Baby’s philosophy to create a happy and healthy environment.
From babies to beer (evidence of the aforementioned diversity), The Beer Dispensary can be found just around the corner from Anna’s Pizzeria, on East Chatham Street. The craft beer store opened almost two years ago (and will be holding a special anniversary celebration in December – make sure you’re on their email list so you get the full details). Store shelves are filled with beverage selections, including many from NC breweries, and growlers can be found in the refrigerator case. A draught system is in the works and beer tastings are regularly held at the tasting bar, so patrons can try before they buy. Here’s a great idea for the beer fan on your gift list, an Advent Calendar Beer Box (brilliant idea, isn’t it?!), described (in an email) as “a box filled with 24 great craft beer bottles including winter and year-round ales…a different one for each day of December…and a 25th for Christmas Day”. The beer box is available at three price points and you can stop by or call The Beer Dispensary for more information.
Additional shops found along this stretch of Salem Street include DownTown Knits, a yarn & fiber art craft store, the used book store, All Booked Up, and the cozy, country store, The Rusty Bucket, as well as more home decor and gift shops and a cigar store (for those so inclined). A shopping day in downtown Apex should help mark off just about every item on that shopping list.
At the end of a long shopping excursion, you’ll probably want to rest, replenish and get a bite to eat. At Tirza’s Artisan & Wine Shop, you can relax at the wine bar after browsing the hand-crafted items filling store shelves and display cases. The bright and cheery yellow striped awnings will draw those with a sweet tooth into Buttercream’s Bakeshop (where you can get your Larry’s Beans coffee fix too). Peak City Grill and Bar is the perfect spot to celebrate shopping success while sipping a cocktail.
The shops and restaurants listed above are just a few of the stores in downtown Apex. The Apex Downtown Business Association website lists all the businesses found along the Salem Street and includes a calendar of upcoming holiday events like a tree lighting and parade in early December. Of course, you don’t have to wait for a parade to visit these venues. They’re open now and ready to welcome you to quaint downtown Apex.
Do you use the Foursquare app on your smart phone? I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots in Apex (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 Apex.