Shopping On The Cape Fear Coast
Wilmington, North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast is a destination of contrasts - from its island beaches to its quaint historic Downtown. So it is with Cape Fear shopping, where visitors will find everything from shells, souvenirs and beach attire to fine art, designer fashions, and one-of-a-kind handmade gifts. Distinctive specialty shops, clothing boutiques, contemporary and historic shopping complexes, art galleries, antique shops, custom jewelers, consignment stores, candy and gift shops, and pottery outlets are examples of the area's diverse shopping choices.
Wilmington's Historic District includes a central business district with more than 200 shops and restaurants to choose from, all within easy walking distance! Many of the businesses in the Historic District are located in preserved historic buildings that were formerly warehouses, churches, mills, and the like. Two renovated warehouses that have been converted into distinctive downtown shopping complexes are The Cotton Exchange, comprised of eight buildings erected during the early 1900's, and Chandler's Wharf, another renovated warehouse that's been preserved for visitors' shopping and dining pleasure. A weekly Riverfront Farmer's Market takes place each Saturday morning (April through December) along the scenic Cape Fear River, featuring locally grown produce and plants, as well as handcrafted gifts and entertainment.
While you're in Wilmington, visit more than 35 art galleries and 30+ antique shops. On the fourth Friday of every month, a dozen or so art galleries stay open late during the ever-popular Fourth Friday Gallery Nights. It's no wonder the area was featured in the book The 100 Best Small Art Towns in North America by John Villani, which includes destinations that make for "a great weekend getaway" and where you'll "find a true sense of community" and can "buy high-quality art at affordable prices."
In recent years, new shopping complexes and specialty stores have created a shopping Renaissance. Near Wrightsville Beach, you'll find unique boutiques and gift shops at upscale shopping complexes like Mayfaire Town Center, Wilmington's newest pedestrian-style shopping village. Just across the street, The Shops at The Forum offers boutiques, gift shops, bakery, day spas and cafés. For more upscale shops, check out Lumina Station's 25 boutiques, shops, eateries, art galleries, and spa located on Eastwood Road.
Shopping on the Cape Fear Coast's barrier islands is best described as eclectic. At Wrightsville Beach, you'll find surf and kite shops, funky boutiques and souvenir stores. Perhaps Wrightsville's most unique place to shop is Redix Department Store, where you can purchase anything from fishing tackle to top designer fashions for men and women, and one of the best bathing suit selections on the East Coast. On Pleasure Island, there are lots of places to purchase beach gear, sunscreen and souvenirs, as well as outfitters that sell recreational gear. By contrast, you can find handmade gifts at Sterling Craft Mall and unique finds at a number of island boutiques and shops along the strands of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. And some of the coolest souvenirs are at the gift shops at Fort Fisher State Historic Site & Civil War Battlefield and at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.
Wilmington, North Carolina's Cape Fear Coast is not only known as a beach resort with a historic Downtown riverfront, but it's also the largest city on the state's coast. Thus, there are also traditional and chain shopping venues where you'll always find good bargains and an excellent selection. On Oleander Drive, Hanover Center celebrates 50 years in 2007 as Wilmington's first suburban shopping center. It's located across from Independence Mall, another great shopping option with four flagship department stores and more than 150 shops and eateries. Chain retailers have also mushroomed along Market Street, College Road, and Carolina Beach Road.
So, whether you're looking for nautical knick-knacks, the latest fashions, vintage attire, original artwork, crafts, beach gear, mementos, trinkets, bargains, and more, you'll find it in the shops of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, Wrightsville Beach and Wilmington.
added: December 15, 2008
updated: December 22, 2008