What's downtown Raleigh missing? Shopping, some say
Posted November 4, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — 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.
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.