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What's downtown Raleigh missing? Shopping, some say

Posted November 4, 2011

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— Thanksgiving is weeks away, but downtown Raleigh merchants are kicking off the holiday shopping season Friday night with a reception at City Market. The downtown area has blocks of offices, condos and some restaurants and bars, but many downtowners say something's missing – shopping.

“You pretty much have to get in your car and drive somewhere else,” said downtown worker Kathy Davis.

“You have to go to Cameron Village. It's probably the closest place downtown,” said Frederick Baymon, another downtown worker. “There are really, like, no retail stores downtown.”

Clothing boutiques and art galleries make up most of the retail shopping options. Downtown may never see a big-box retail store, but business boosters say it's a great place to go for those looking for something unique.

Retailers tout Raleigh's one-of-a-kind shopping Retailers tout Raleigh's one-of-a-kind shopping

Paul Reimel, who’s in charge of economic development for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, says those specialty boutiques and art galleries are a good fit for downtown.

“I think that's what you’re looking for when you buy gifts or when you visit a place – something unique,” Reimel said.

Many downtowners said they want to see a grocery store or a movie theater in the center of Raleigh. Reimel would, too, but he says it may be years before that happens. He says more people are moving to downtown Raleigh.

“That encourages more retailers to come in, so we're certainly starting to see some of that,” he said.

For some downtown workers tired of spending their lunch breaks driving to stores, they say it can't come soon enough.

A couple dozen downtown Raleigh retailers are participating in Friday night’s kickoff reception, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Blake Street Studios in City Market. It coincides with the monthly "First Friday" gallery walk downtown.

38 Comments

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  • jrfergerson Nov 4, 2011

    the parking fee is way too high to shop or go downtown for anything. even state workers have to pay for a parking space just to work for a state agency downtown. that is the major reason many don't accept jobs downtown.

  • OSX Nov 4, 2011

    I really don't know what to say. Maybe the towing companies will come visit you because nobody will surely tow a tow truck.

    I will shop in places that I have no fear of predators. My car will be exactly where I left it. I got an idea, have a tow truck driver and family bonanza downtown!!!

  • lilrednekgrl Nov 4, 2011

    MORE JOBS!!!!!!!!!! PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!

  • tiredofthenet Nov 4, 2011

    Downtown Raleigh is a bore. You can add all the shopping you want, but that does not make it easy to park and relax. It's always a pain in the rear, and expensive. What retailer would pay to have space in places that does not afford parking. The only people I ever see down there are those waiting for their court case - not exactly the crowd most businesses are looking to attract. Get over it. Downtown is just the inconvenient place I have to go in order to get public services. Wasting taxpayer money to get shops down there would only frustrate the economy even further. Create more jobs, not shoe stores.

  • vraptor Nov 4, 2011

    How about a demonstration / protest park with showers & toilets and some food trucks???

  • spinner Nov 4, 2011

    The downtown area definitely needs improvement. I recently had the opportunity to visit Denver, and was amazed at the hustle and bustle of the downtown 16th street mall. There was so much to see and do - it was a lot of fun! It would be nice if similar activities were available in downtown Raleigh.

  • Screw WrAl Nov 4, 2011

    Pro Sports!

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Nov 4, 2011

    How about tearing down Raleigh Rescue Mission & Salvation Army and build a nice big Harris Teeter?

  • 007KnightRider Nov 4, 2011

    Belk was downtown years ago. That's a box-store! If you advertise, make room then they will come! Who is in charge of downtown real estate?

  • Da Toy Maker Nov 4, 2011

    EverythingTicksMeOff:

    We moved down here from NYC many moons ago. As I were saying, I like driving my car to every where and not got stuck in traffic. Same reason why I prefer the little house outside of the Beltline/Condo in downtown. As I were saying, that is just my personal preference. we did not enjoy NYC style life.

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