***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.***
For the past two holiday seasons Sustain-a-Bull, Durham’s non-profit independent business alliance, has organized a special Shop Independent Durham Week, to highlight the independent book stores, art galleries, gift shops, clothing and home stores that offer additional shopping alternatives in the Bull City. The start of this year’s campaign coincides with Small Business Saturday and partners with Bull City Bucks program (a free app for your smart phone) to create a shopping event packed with discounts at over forty locally owned businesses and the chance to win prizes.
Beginning November 24, 2012, shoppers can earn a 10% discount on coffee beans at Bean Traders (either the Ninth Street or Homestead Market location), 20% off winter apparel at Bull City Running Company, 25% off a class at Durham Spirits Company, 20% off select wines at Wine Authorities, and many more discounts at participating businesses (see the full list of promotions here). In addition to those discounts, find the Bull City Buck$ QR codes to participate in the “SCANvenger Hunt”, rack up some Buck$ and be entered to win prizes (full SCANvenger Hunt details can be found here). Sustain-a-Bull makes it easy to find all the holiday gifts Durham residents will need.
Along Ninth Street, around Brightleaf Square and in various spots in downtown Durham, finding an independent shop or restaurant is really simple. Walk along Ninth Street from West Markham Street to Perry Street and you’ll find shopping options like Durham Cycles, the Regulator Bookshop, The Play House toy store and Ox & Rabbit Soda & Sundries (where one will find some of the cutest window displays and scrumptious milk shakes).
At the corner of Ninth St. and Markham Ave. lies Cozy, where shoppers can find a bit of everything including yarn and knitting supplies, clothing and Dansko shoes, gifts for the home, as well as jewelry and accessories.
About halfway down the block, Vaguely Reminiscent is one fun shop, packed to the ceiling with cute items and some very eye-catching decor. I spotted a trivia game on the shelves that make the perfect gift for game-loving foodies.
At the corner of Ninth and Perry Streets one finds Zola Craft Gallery (a shop that recently celebrated its 17th anniversary) selling home decor gifts and craft items for every room in the house and the garden too.
Dining options along Ninth street vary to satisfy every taste. Start the morning with a cup of Bean Traders or breakfast at Elmo’s Diner. Have a burger and a local brew at Dain’s Place or find a comfy spot in Vin Rouge for a little post-shopping excursion cocktail and dinner. Of course Durham is a major foodie town in the Triangle and even more dining can be found in the heart of downtown.
When you’re ready for more shopping, hop aboard the free Bull City Connector to reach another shopping and dining destination at Brightleaf Square. Shopping venues in the square include women’s apparel and accessories at Adorn Boutique, both men’s and women’s clothing at Vert & Vogue, and contemporary art glass and pottery at James Kennedy Galleries, just to name a few.
Across from Brightleaf Square along Gregson Street, you’ll find Morgan Imports a Durham mainstay since 1969. Shoppers will find many Christmas collectibles in a special section of the store and the remainder of the shop is all decked out for the holiday season as well. It would be quite easy to walk away with an arm load of gifts from Morgan Imports, but if you’re looking for one particular item, just ask the helpful staff for assistance.
Adjacent to Morgan Imports is one of Durham’s favorite restaurants and specialty food stores, Parker & Otis. To be perfectly honest, I have to exercise quite a bit of restraint when browsing the cookbook section at P & O. Otherwise, I would spend a year’s cookbook allowance all in one visit (by the way, cookbooks will be 20% off on Saturday, Nov. 24th – Yay). But there’s much more than cookbooks in the shop. Parker & Otis makes gift giving even easier. They’ve put together special “wish lists” for a variety of people you might know like toddling babies, seasoned foodies, quirky bookworms, party hosts, office secret santas and more. Just ask one of the store staff for more information about their curated gift lists.
I’m nearly all shopped out just writing about the variety of independent merchants in Durham. Yet there are many more I’ve not mentioned and more I plan to discover. I’m still crafting a plan of action, but Sustain-a-Bull makes it easy to find locally owned businesses and this year’s Bull City Buck$ SCANvenger Hunt increases the fun factor. Of course, knowing that a far larger percentage of my shopping dollar will remain in the Durham community by shopping local is icing on the cake.
Do you use the Foursquare app on your smart phone? I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots in Durham (including all of the above and many more) and you can find the list here. Feel free to save the list (and share with friends) for reference next time you visit Durham.