***This post wraps up my Localista “Shop Local” tour for 2012, a 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.***
As the largest city in the Triangle region, it sometimes seems a challenge to find the smaller independent shops in the great expanse of Raleigh. However, a handful of shopping areas include many locally owned merchants as tenants. Recently, downtown has added some new independent shops as well, a trend many downtowners hope continues. Depending upon what I’m considering purchasing, I’ll make my way to one of three areas in Raleigh to find something unique.
When I’m in the food shopping mood, I frequent many of the stores found in North Raleigh’s Lafayette Village. The village’s aesthetic appeals with its European atmosphere featuring a center green, water fountains and charming walkways leading from shop to shop. I love the food specialty shops like The Chocolate Boutique for hand-crafted truffles and treats, Village Market grocery, Upper Crust Bakery and Savory Spice Shop. The Olive Wagon is a recent addition to Lafayette Village, featuring flavored olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars, as well as gourmet food items. Food fans on your gift list would appreciate a gift (or gift certificate) from these retailers.
Naturally, a tasty beverage is an integral part of the food experience and visitors will find something to suit every palate when visiting venues like Mavalios Tea, Vinos Finos wine cafe and Jubala coffee shop. When you’re ready to take a seat and have a bite to eat in the village, you’ll find several restaurants to satisfy any appetite.
Though the 440 loop is no longer officially known as “the beltline”, shoppers will find Cameron Village in the section of Raleigh once known as “inside the beltline”. Replete with shops such as Uniquities, The Art of Style, Madison, Wardrobbe and Kannon’s, Cameron Village is my first stop when searching for chic clothing for men or women, as well as fashionable accessories in Raleigh.
Of course having super dining options, like sweet treats from Sugarland and Cantina 18 for something a bit more spicy, adds appeal to spending a day walking around the village. More than 80 shops and restaurants are found within Cameron Village and you can find a complete store directory here.
Downtown Raleigh has long been a destination for dining, entertainment and the local arts scene. Recent new retail shop openings increase the appeal to stroll downtown streets. In the area of City Market, I find one-of-a-kind art and hand-crafted items from local artisans in shops like Blake Street Shops & Studio, Epona & Oak and Amplified Art.
Just about a block and a half west and a short two block walk north along Wilmington Street, shoppers will find the iconic Stitch at the corner of Hargett Street and two doors down Moon & Lola‘s new Raleigh store. Continue north on Wilmington to find Kindred, an emerging North Carolina designers incubator & boutique, or walk west on Hargett street to Deco, a new gift shop found at corner with Salisbury Street.
If you’re up for a longer walk, head to Ornamentea (on West Street, just a block off Glenwood Avenue) for craft supplies to create your own gifts. Additional locally crafted shopping options in downtown include DesignBox’s Brand Fandango XI, a seasonal boutique in the Warehouse District open now through December 22nd, and Anvil on Person Street, hosting next weekend’s Person Street Holiday Art Market.
Of course, if you’re not wearing the best walking shoes, the R-line bus will tote you (and your shopping bags) all around downtown Raleigh for free. No matter where you roam in downtown Raleigh, you’re certain to pass any number of enticing restaurants. VisitRaleigh.com can help visitors find just the right dining venue, as well as more information about the greater Raleigh area. There’s a great deal more to explore in Raleigh than I could ever begin to think about covering in a single post, but at least you’ve got a couple of starting points to begin your explorations. So, go forth and shop local, all around Raleigh.
Do you use the Foursquare app on your smart phone? I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots in Raleigh (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 Raleigh.