Conventional wisdom advises that habits are ingrained after 21 days of repetition. If that theory holds true, then the eat~play~shop local habit requires time and effort to develop. Each month I’ll share “21 Days” of some event, place or organization in the Triangle, enabling (and I mean that in the most positive sense possible) your inner Localista to come out and join us. This month it’s all about shopping at independent retailers, art galleries, craft fairs, coop and specialty markets, wine and bottle shops all around the Triangle.
Whether you stroll along Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill or prefer the indoor atmosphere of the town’s one and only mall, you’ll find unique shops where you can browse for hours looking for just the right item and thoroughly enjoy every minute.
Along Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill one finds boutique shops like Julian’s, Sophie & Mollie’s, Uniquities, Light Years, Chapel Hill Comics and The Bookshop, complete with cuddly cats. Near the intersection with Columbus Street is one of my favorite venues for art and gifts in downtown. Ackland Museum Store often features a variety of unique products that relate to current exhibitions. This holiday season the store has a special curated selection of goods featured in the Made in America market. The selection of goods in the shop are designed and manufactured in the United States by eleven companies who have been manufacturing for fifty years or more. There’s sure to be something perfect that will make a really special gift.
You have to admire a mall with a theater company as a tenant. Add a super-sized foodie store as an anchor, and a store directory where an orange footprint logo leads the way to local businesses and you’ve found Chapel Hill’s University Mall.
Whenever I visit this mall, I rarely leave empty-handed, whether shopping for myself or for others. Some of my favorite shops have called this venue home for quite some time, including Branching Out – Night Gallery, a mini department store, with a vintage twist. A “mash up” of what was once two separate shops, women’s cocktail dresses display comfortably next to antique furniture cabinets filled with vintage dishes. Both antique and reproduction home decor items can be found, as well as sleepwear, toys, books and many more fun items and whimsical displays. No visit to U-Mall is complete without a stop in Kitchenworks. Every imaginable gadget and kitchen tool, cookware, glassware, knives, ceramics, linens and yes, cookbooks, and a pretty awesome selection of cookie cutters can be found on the shelves and racks inside.
And those are just a very few of the unique shops you’ll find scattered around Chapel Hill. I’ve created a Google Map that includes some of my favorite independent retailers in the Chapel Hill area and you can find it here. Did I miss one of your favorites? If so, let me know in the comments. In the meantime, make sure you save the map link to your mobile device of choice for quick reference when you’re out shopping in the area.