50 Best Places to Shop in North Carolina, USA

Blue Spiral 1

Downtown Fodor's choice

The biggest and arguably the best art gallery in town has changing exhibits of regional sculpture, paintings, fine crafts, and photographs.

Buxton Village Books

Fodor's choice
This independent bookstore in an old cottage on North Carolina Highway 12 has been a fixture for decades and hosts local book launches and readings. The knowledgeable owner stocks a large selection of regional books, as well as used and new books in all genres, plus greeting cards and gifts. The bookshop is open year-round but only three days a week in winter.

Downtown Asheville

Downtown Fodor's choice

Shopping is excellent and local all over downtown Asheville, with around 200 boutiques, including more than 30 art and crafts galleries. Several streets, notably Biltmore Avenue, Broadway Street, Lexington Avenue,Haywood Street, and Wall Street, are lined with small, independently owned stores. In fact, there are only two chain retailers in all of downtown.

Recommended Fodor's Video

French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Downtown Fodor's choice

French Broad Chocolate Lounge—so popular it had to move to this much-larger location on Pack Square (though the line is still sometimes out the door)—makes its own delicious chocolate candy, but that's just the start. As the name suggests, it's also a lounge, where you can sit in comfort and enjoy not only truffles and other premium chocolates but also ice cream, cookies, brownies, various kinds of hot and cold chocolate drinks, and specialty coffees and teas. Adjoining is the grab-and-go Chocolate Boutique. The owners also have a small chocolate factory and tasting room at 21 Buxton Avenue, with guided tours daily, starting at $3.

Grove Arcade

Downtown Fodor's choice

Just before its opening in 1929, the Grove Arcade, which covers an entire city block, was trumpeted as "the most elegant building in America" by its builder, W. E. Grove, the man also responsible for the Grove Park Inn. He envisioned a new kind of retail, office, and residential complex. Grove died before completing the project, and a planned 14-story tower was never built. Still, the building is an architectural wonder, with gargoyles galore. Now it's a public market with about 40 locally owned shops and restaurants, along with apartments, office space, and an outdoor market. A self-guided architectural tour (download a map from the website) takes about 45 minutes.

Marquee Asheville

Fodor's choice

Somewhere between an art gallery, an antique mall, and a craft fair, a stroll through Marquee is like touring a museum of Asheville's most creative visual artists. Offerings range from whimsical decor to functional furniture. There's an on-site bar to sip while you browse, and leashed dogs are welcome. 

Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts

River Arts District Fodor's choice

Odyssey Center for the Ceramic Arts has the largest number of working clay artists in the region. It has two ceramics galleries, plus pottery studios and clay classes. The main gallery, Odyssey Co-Op Gallery, has a large and high-quality selection of ceramic works, both functional and decorative, as well as figurative and abstract sculpture, by 25 juried clay artists. Odyssey Clayworks offers classes and has a gallery of clay work by students and others.

Parker and Otis

Downtown Fodor's choice

This shop and gourmet sandwich counter offers kitchenware, cookbooks, local produce, and specialty foods, as well as wines, chocolates, teas, coffees, and scads of candy. Breakfast is served until 11 and into the afternoon on weekends. Lunch lasts until 4 pm. Gift baskets can be shipped all over the country.

This shop is known for its pimento cheese. Take some to go, or have it spread on a shrimp BLT to enjoy at the tables just outside.

Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual

Fodor's choice

This is the nation's oldest Native American co-op. It displays and sells items created by more than 250 Cherokee craftspeople. The store has a large selection of museum-quality baskets, masks, and wood carvings, some of which can cost hundreds of dollars.

Surf, Wind and Fire

Fodor's choice
This fun outfitter sells clothing designed for the outdoors, from brands like Patagonia and Free Fly, plus outdoor gear and attractive New Bern souvenirs. The in-store Surfing Pig taproom includes sidewalk seating and stocks local craft beers.

Woolworth Walk

Downtown Fodor's choice

In a 1938 building that once housed a five-and-dime, Woolworth Walk features the curated work of more than 170 crafts artists, in 20,000 square feet of exhibit space on two levels. There's even a working soda fountain, built to resemble the original Woolworth luncheonette.

9th Street

West Metro

Durham's funky 9th Street is lined with shops and restaurants and has a distinct college-town feel.

Asheville City Market


Sponsored by ASAP, nearly everything at this downtown market is local. Offerings vary but usually include produce, free-range eggs, homemade breads, cheeses, and crafts from some 60 local farms, bakeries, and craftspeople. From early April through December, every Saturday morning it covers an entire city block on North Market Street; January through March it moves indoors, to the Masonic Temple Building at 80 Broadway.

Books to be Red

Ocracoke Village
In an 1898 cottage, this independent book store features a large children's selection, the latest novels and nonfiction, and everything ever published related to Ocracoke. A section of the building serves as a gift shop and local pottery gallery.

Carolina Creations

Fine American crafts and fine art represented by regional and national artists of every genre are the focus at this art gallery and gift shop. You can find blown glass, pottery, jewelry, wood carvings, and all manner of paintings and prints.

Concord Mills

Destination shopping has been raised to an art form at this large outlet mall, which sells hundreds of brand names and discounted designer labels. Look for stores carrying Ralph Lauren, Coach, Guess, and Banana Republic.

Cotton Exchange


Once the headquarters for the largest cotton exporter in the world, this historic warehouse complex now comprises a dense concentration of locally owned boutiques and restaurants—nearly 30 of them—in a rambling maze of courtyards and hallways. Clothing and footwear, arts and crafts, gourmet food supplies, books, and comics are all here. While you're here, check out the Wilmington Walk of Fame honoring local celebrities like David Brinkley, Michael Jordan, Charlie Daniels, Roman Gabriel, and nearly a dozen more.

321 N. Front St., Wilmington, NC, 28401, USA
Shopping Details
Rate Includes: Mon.–Sat. 10–5:30, Sun. noon–4

CURVE Studios

River Arts District

With working studios and exhibits by about a dozen artists, CURVE Studios displays ceramics, textiles, jewelry, sculpture, and furniture in three storefronts. 

Downtown Books

With strong local support, this enduring mainstay has survived hurricane flooding to stock an admirable collection of literature on the Outer Banks, cuisine, history, nature, lighthouses, shipwrecks, and folklore, as well as related fiction. Local author readings are frequent.

103 Sir Walter Raleigh St., Manteo, NC, 27594, USA

Downtown Waynesville

The main shopping area in downtown Waynesville stretches several long blocks along Main Street, with a number of small boutiques, bookstores, antiques shops, restaurants, brewpubs, and a bakery. Side streets in this charming small town also offer shopping and dining. A few blocks away, Frog Level is an up-and-coming small dining and entertainment section in a former industrial area.

Fred's General Mercantile

For hardware, firewood, a quart of milk, locally grown vegetables, deli sandwiches, pumpkins for Halloween, snowboard and ski rentals, gourmet birdseed, and just about anything else you need, Fred's General Mercantile, half general store and half boutique, is the place to go. At 5,049 feet, it's billed as the highest-elevation general store in America.

Furnitureland South

With more than 1 million square feet of showroom space, this complex, the biggest furniture retailer in the world, makes an IKEA look like a corner store. This goes far beyond an average shopping experience---a visit here could easily take all day. Customers register with the front desk and are given tips by a Furnitureland consultant on how to maximize their time in the sprawling store, which includes innumerable galleries from leading manufacturers and a discount center. Meals and refreshments are available at a Starbucks and a Subway (the largest one in the United States, of course).

Gallery Row

A two-block side street off the beachfront S. Virginia Dare Trail road, now known officially as Gallery Row, is home to several local artist studios and retail displays, including the Glenn Eure Ghost Fleet Gallery and the Seagreen Gallery, where works are created from driftwood, buoys, and other reclaimed maritime items. There's plenty of parking on this quiet residential street, meaning you can easily walk from gallery to gallery.

Grove Arcade

Nearing a century old, this stunning historic building's glass roof fills its corridors with light on sunny days—and is a welcome escape during a summer thunderstorm. It's home to restaurants, a bookstore with a bar inside, and shops that include a wooden instrument maker and an apothecary. 

Grovewood Gallery

Grove Park

The gallery's 9,000 square feet hold high-quality ceramic, glass, fiber, wood, and other crafts, along with furniture in what the gallery calls "the Asheville style."

High Point Furniture Sales

Deep discounts are part of the draw to this furniture store. Don't be put off by the nondescript brick exterior beside the highway—inside, expect more than 150 well-known brands and some pieces offered at below manufacturer-direct prices. The Discount Furniture Warehouse and Furniture Value and Clearance Center, at 2035 Brentwood Street, is only one exit from the main store.


Franklin Street's premier clothier since 1942 is known for outfitting former UNC men's basketball coach Roy Williams when he takes the court. The traditional haberdashery creates unique and custom suits, shirts, ties, and women's clothing.
135 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC, 27514, USA

Kress Emporium I and II


In this 1928 landmark building decorated with polychrome terra-cotta tiles, about 100 artisans show and sell their crafts. A second location two doors away, Kress Emporium II, has about 25 art and crafts stalls.

Mast General Store

This is the original Mast General Store, originally called Taylor General Store. Built in 1882–83, the store has plank floors worn to a soft sheen and an active, old-timey post office. Everything from ribbons and overalls to yard art and cookware is sold here. You can take a shopping break by sipping bottled "dope" (mountain talk for a soda pop) or a cup of coffee for 5¢ while sitting in a rocking chair on the store's back porch. For more shopping, an annex, which dates to 1909, is just down the road. Mast General Store has expanded to nine locations, but as the first, this one still has the most authentic atmosphere.