Shopping Guide for Cape Fear Coast and Brunswick Islands
Studies show that women think about fashion an average of 91 times a day, which makes shopping an obvious activity to do while on vacation. Whether it’s browsing the latest fashions, searching for that perfect souvenir, finding the ideal gift or perusing the locally made crafts and one-of-a-kind antiques, there’s always a reason to go shopping.Fortunately, the Cape Fear Coast and Brunswick Islands have all the makings for a perfect shopping adventure.
Fashion and Outlet Stores
Having a passion for the finer things in life can be expensive but only if you don’t know where to shop. Start at Wilmington’s Mayfaire Town Center to discover the fabulous finds at chic clothing stores such as Banana Republic, White House Black Market and J. Crew. While you’re in Wilmington, browse Independence Mall for an impressive selection of name brand clothes plus a great variety of stores you may expect to find in a mall and a few surprises!
There are plenty of surf shops in the area, but don’t expect just surfboards and wetsuits—modern surf shops carry stylish clothes, shoes, jewelry, sunglasses and more for men, women and kids. In Wrightsville Beach you’ll find plenty of surf shops as well as upscale boutiques offering sophisticated fashions unlikely to be found elsewhere.
Throughout Wilmington’s historic district, you’ll find a wide range of stores, most of them locally owned with a unique selection of merchandise from candles, jewelry and locally crafted wares. The Cotton Exchange at the north end of the riverfront features a variety of shops in a historic cotton building, once the site of the largest cotton-export company in the world. Learn about the history of the cotton industry, and then meander around the multi-level shopping center and its many diverse stores, selling everything from Christmas decorations and books to jewelry and homemade fudge.
On the other end of the Riverfront is Chandler’s Wharf, a retail and dining complex with cobblestone streets, plank walkways and a maritime atmosphere. You will find a mix of dockside restaurants and quaint stores.
Another interesting diversion with a variety of merchandise is the Old Wilmington City Market, a historic building on the waterfront between Front and Water streets. Art galleries, jewelers, clothing boutiques and craft shops take up the arcade-style building, which once served as a vegetable market.
One particularly delightful place to shop is Lumina Station, a shopping area inspired by the Lumina pavilion, which was once a Wrightsville Beach hotspot. Lumina Station features a dozen unique shops, restaurants and cafes and a delightfully upscale yet relaxed environment. Take a rest on one of the many rocking chairs that sit amidst the beautiful flowers and trees that surround the center. Here you’ll find stores that are one-of-a-kind offering delights such as artisan jewelry and handbags, splendid gifts for the home, fine art pieces and so much more.
The quiet, oak-lined streets of Southport provide a totally unique shopping experience. Ambling around the old-fashioned shops in historic buildings and houses is like a step back in time, and also quite rewarding. Find gifts, jewelry, art and clothing, not to mention charming store owners with many stories to tell.
Visit the Hanover Center strip mall, a 320,000 square foot community shopping center, to find specialty food items, home furnishings and gifts. Also in Wilmington around the University of North Carolina, you’ll find a variety of stores, including a bookstore with rare and vintage books and 22,000-square foot art gallery.
On Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach, shoppers will find stores geared
to beach lovers and art lovers plus other specialty stores such as swimsuit boutiques, nautical gift stores and bookstores.
Most of the stores on Pleasure Island have a central theme—having fun at the beach. You’ll come across plenty of beach stores with everything you need for a day of fun in the sun, as well as countless souvenirs and gift items. Carolina Beach has the largest selection of such stores, as well as a few other interesting shops, including bookstores and clothing boutiques.
Antique stores abound here, making this area quite a popular place for finding vintage treasures and retro souvenirs. Antique enthusiasts will find much to smile about across Southport, as there are plenty of quaint antique stores, as well as an antique mall with more than 30 dealers. Parking is free on all city streets, but the town is so pleasant and small, you’ll definitely want to walk from shop to shop. Pleasure Island also has a tremendous antiques scene as well.
Shopkeepers often make the experience of browsing just as fun as the thrill of a good find with their friendly attitudes and pleasant demeanor. However, when you do find that item you’ve been looking for or perhaps didn’t realize you needed, you’ll be able to treasure it forever and keep it as a reminder of your time on North Carolina’s Brunswick Islands.