Durham businesses capitalize on city's 'trendy,' 'hipster' reputation

Posted March 27, 2018 6:30 p.m. EDT
Updated March 27, 2018 9:28 p.m. EDT

— National lists describe the city of Durham as trendy, hip, exciting and growing.

Just a decade ago, the Bull City had a much different perception. Now local businesses are using the change as an opportunity to cash in.

More business are selling Durham products and apparel because so many people want something to represent their city.

In downtown Durham, apparel store Runaway is known for selling anything and everything that says “Durham” and “Bull City.”

Store owner Gabriel Eng-Goetz is a Durham native.

Growing up here, he says he never expected what a business opportunity the word "Durham" would become.

"'Durm. Say it like you're from here.' That is our most popular campaign," Eng-Goetz said.

He said Runaway's revenue has doubled every year for the past three years.

“Coming from Durham, things weren’t always so marketable,” Eng-Goetz said. “Growing up, Durham was almost like a bad word.”

Eng-Goetz said it’s recently become clear that if you put the word "Durham" on socks, posters, hats or shirts, the product will sell.

“As soon as I started putting anything Durham on apparel, it just flew out the door,” he said.

The same is true, about a half mile away, at the store inside the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Much of the merchandise boasts the city's name.

Durham Bulls Marketing and Communications Director Matt Sutor said that the name Durham is even displayed on one of the team's new jerseys.

“People want things that say Durham or Bull City or whatever it may be,” Sutor said. “They want to see that on clothing items.”

Sutor said the team wants to be representation of the city the community loves.

"(It’s) something that we definitely skew to, because we know people love this city, they love apparel that shows off their city," Sutor said. "They think it's hip, it's trendy, and we want to stay on top of that."

He said Durham’s brand is now associated with innovation and millennials.

“Hip, trendy, foodie, outdoorsy, progressive,” Sutor said.

“The thing that stands out to me most is just genuine, authentic," Eng-Goetz said.