Hit Johnston County for hoards of holiday shopping

Posted November 26, 2020 5:00 a.m. EST

Locally owned and operated, and built over multiple decades from a small seasonal produce stand into a regional shopping destination, DeWayne's offers thousands of square feet of curated shopping.

This article was written for our sponsor, Johnston County Visitors Bureau.

The holiday season is right around the corner and people everywhere are hurrying to check off the items on their gift lists.

With an influx of busyness all across the Triangle, many shoppers are looking for ways to escape the hustle and bustle of the city during their outings. In Johnston County, big-name stores and local shops are removed from the traffic of cities like Raleigh and Durham and are open and ready for business.

"Johnston County is away from the hustle and bustle and traffic of the city. You can escape out of more crowded indoor spaces and shop the outlets or our main street shops," said Ashby Brame, marketing director of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau. "We also have great outdoor holiday attractions for the whole family to tack-on to your shopping trip, like holiday milkshakes at Clayton General Store, a locally-made meal in one of our restaurants, or a holiday lights show at one of our family-owned farms."

Although not locally owned, the Carolina Premium Outlets is perhaps one of the most popular shopping options the county has to offer. Located in Smithfield just off I-95, the outlets feature dozens of options for clothing, shoes, and accessories — not to mention other holiday-worthy items like books, candles, and pottery.

Major brand names the outlet center has to offer include Tommy Hilfiger, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Nike and Fossil, while more unique gifts can be found at stores like Carolina Pottery, Barbecue Provision Company and the Book Warehouse.

Since the stores are scattered throughout an outdoor plaza, the outlets offer a safer shopping experience for those concerned about COVID-19. While it doesn't totally eliminate risk, shoppers can more easily maintain distance while walking to and from stores, and the increased volume of air helps prevent particles from building up.

On Thanksgiving night, the outlets kick off their Midnight Madness event, which brings sales and deals specifically for the holiday shopping season. For those looking to fuel up with a bite to eat, the recently opened Southern Smokehouse Barbeque is a locally-owned option located right in the outlets, serving up home-cooked southern foods like wood-cooked barbeque, cornbread muffins, and potato salad.

Additionally, in order to accommodate outlet traffic, a Hampton Inn was recently constructed in Smithfield. With 112 rooms, the hotel is the largest in the county and even offers an indoor pool.

While the Carolina Premium Outlets provide a wide variety of shopping options, it's far from the only retail center in Johnston County. For those looking to support local stores, the downtown districts of towns across the county are filled with locally owned and operated shopping options.

"Johnston County has multiple small towns with charm and bustling main streets," said Brame. "Each downtown area has locally-owned shop owners ready to welcome you in and help you select the perfect gift, from clothing to crafts and antiques to art."

Johnston County : Spotlight : Evans Jewelers

For those sticking around Smithfield after browsing the outlets, just a few blocks away you'll find charming shops like Brame mentioned lining the street. Oak City Collection focuses on locally made and often North Carolina-themed gifts, and Evans Jewelers is a multi-generational, local, high-end jewelry store that also sells a curated collection of wine and cigars.

Shopping for someone with a green thumb? Just five minutes away in Selma, shoppers can browse the award-winning, nationally recognized garden center at DeWayne's.

Locally owned and operated, and built over multiple decades from a small seasonal produce stand into a regional shopping destination, DeWayne's offers thousands of square feet of curated shopping. In addition to the plants and wares in the garden center, the shop also includes brand-name clothing and unique gifts — not to mention a Christmas Land department filled with holiday decor, personalized ornaments, a tree lot, and more.

Johnston County : Spotlight : Three Little Birds

If your shopping list has a little bit of everything, few stores offer the variety of Downtown Clayton's The Market at Three Little Birds. With three floors of items created by over 30 local vendors, the store has everything from hand-painted furniture to baked goods to aromatherapy items.

Owned by Christi Thompson, Thompson's own passion for supporting creators in the area spurred the idea to partner with local artisans, allowing them to showcase their talents and give customers a unique experience.

The Market, which occupies more than 9,000 square feet, features vendors ranging from experienced professionals to stay-at-home moms with a passion for creating. Each vendor is carefully selected by using a local community panel to make sure the customer's experience is the main focus.

For those still wary of venturing out, the Market also features an online store that fully showcases the variety of goods available.

Spread across the pockets of Johnston County, there are plenty of other locally-owned stores ready for holiday shoppers — from Benson's Royal Boutique & Company to Four Oaks's Ogi Designs — not to mention restaurants offering gift cards and merchandise.

No matter what items are on your list this year, the locally owned shops and big-name stores of Johnston County are ready to serve and open for business.

This article was written for our sponsor, Johnston County Visitors Bureau.

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