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Apr 17, 2007 09:42 AM

Ingredient shopping in North and South Carolina

Hi all,

I'm doing a driving tour through North and South Carolina looking for interesting and fun food shopping neighborhoods. Places like the Strip District in Pittsburgh, the Italian Market in Philly and Kensington Market in Toronto. Any suggestions? Thanks!

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  1. keep an eye out for road-side stands, which are plentiful in the south.

    1. Where in NC are you going to be? In the mountains, central NC or along the coast? Along the coast here, there are fish markets you'll want to catch if you have a cooler, and as mentioned before, plenty of roadside stands along the smalller highways.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Andiereid

        I'll be mostly in cities, Raleigh/Durham, Charlotte, Charleston etc.

        1. re: Flocante

          I would look for a cood country store - if you are in winston try ronnies for country ham or preserves. We don't have any places like the italian market or reading terminal in n carolina but for a good shopping experience try southern season in chapel hill

          1. re: quazi

            I second Southern Season. It's an experience not to be missed, especially if you like chocolate.

          2. re: Flocante

            In Raleigh try the State Farmers Market, try to be there when strawberrys or peaches are in and when Nahunta pork is open. Also there are many other farmers markets around the triangle and in other parts of the state.

            1. re: chazzer

              sadly, most of the carolina's peach crop was destroyed by a couple freezes not too long ago... so most of the peaches we see this year won't be local... we'll have to wait another year... same for blueberries... :-(

        2. In Charleston try the Farmer's Market in Marion Sq. downtown for incredible fresh veggies and some seafood. For a wider array of seafood go to Crosby's on Folly Beach. There are also several pick'em yourself strawberry farms along hwy 17 between Charleston and Myrtle each.

          2 Replies
          1. re: human entity

            Yep. We have Lewis Farms here in Wilmington. Their strawberry crop is fine, but unfortunately, their blueberry crop suffered a lot of damage from the cold weather we had.

            1. re: human entity

              I second Crosby's - load up on local shrimp!

            2. The cities in NC really don't have places like the ones you mentioned as those are characteristic of highly urbanized markets.

              In the south, we have farmer's markets and each metro area typcially has one large one and a number of smaller ones. I particularly like some of the smaller ones that have carved out a distinct niche.

              In Charlotte, there is the main farmer's market is on Yorkmount Rd and there are at least three others I can think of. My favorite is the Matthews market

              In Carrboro (Raleigh/Durham area), the main market is in Raleigh, but the Carrboro market is definitely worth checking out

              1 Reply
              1. re: brentk

                I'd also like to add the Durham Farmer's Market here:

                I agree with the recommendations for A Southern Season and the State Farmers Market.

              2. Are you looking for fresh foods or non-perishables?

                6 Replies
                1. re: Chow Penguin

                  More of interesting neighborhoods than actually purchasing food. I'm looking for locations for a spice store.

                  1. re: Flocante

                    Hmm.. I'll have to think about spices, can't recall anyplace specializing, but I highly recommend Hillsborough, the Farmer's Market (especially for heirloom plants, veggies and all kinds of great fresh foods), nearby antique shops, and charming downtown shopping.


                    1. re: Flocante

                      While I'm sure a lot of us would be thrilled if you opened such a thing in our neighborhoods, realistically speaking I'm not sure if there's enough density anywhere in NC or SC to make such a thing successful. There's a little shopping courtyard in Chapel Hill where Lex Alexander (one of the founders of Wellspring Grocery) had apparently considered trying to assemble a cheese shop, a butcher, etc, but at present it just contains his [quite good] wine/tea/coffee/chocolate shop, 3 Cups ( ), an excellent sandwich shop ( ) and a mexican-style popsicle shop ( ). He'd be a good one to correspond with, in any case.

                      Most folks around Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill are still waiting eagerly for their chance to shop at a Trader Joe's; the number of people who're looking for the opportunity to spread their shopping across multiple specialty vendors is probably quite small indeed.

                      On the other hand, this region has a lot of good restaurants, so a spice shop that specialized in high-quality hard-to-locate stuff might do a steady business catering to chefs.

                      Charlotte is the largest city in NC, but it's sprawl-riffic. Generally speaking, no southern cities, including Atlanta, have anywhere near the population density of cities like Philly, Pittsburgh or Toronto. People in the south tend to move in carefully-defined orbits that center around home & work, but a ton of people live in one suburban outskirt & work in another, so the only heavily-traveled corridors are the highways, and nobody's looking to boutique-shop along those.

                      You might check out Charleston, as it's more of a "destination city," if you can figure out how to tweak the business to cater to tourists.

                      Some southern cities, particularly Durham & Chapel Hill, are actively working towards some level of density and walkability that would support these kinds of businesses. A lot of other southern cities know they have a problem with sprawl, but seem flummoxed when it comes to actually doing anything about it.

                      In any case, good luck, and be sure to sample the regional delicacies on your trip. You may not find a store location, but you'll darn sure find some great chow.

                      1. re: Flocante

                        Asheville, NC, would probably be your best bet for a store like this. Of all the cities that I've been to in the Carolina's, it has the most pedestrian friendly downtown area, and it is thriving with locals and tourists for most of the year. It has many good restaurants featuring a decent array of different cuisines, and the folks there are very conscious when it comes to consuming local ingredients. I think a spice shop would do very well there. I strongly recommend visiting Asheville to give it a try. I live in Charlotte and grew up in Charleston. I think Asheville would be better than either for such a store. Charlotte is a very new city with zero character and no population density as another poster mentioned. Charleston might work, but overhead would probably be higher, and you would probably rely more on tourists than locals for business. Good Luck. I hope you post something to let us know where you end up.

                        1. re: mdatwood13

                          Wilmington, NC also has a very pedestrian friendly downtown. The area is also home to a large university, huge retirement population, successful farmers' market and large-scale urban redevelopment.

                          1. re: joshuahmel

                            Yeah, sometimes when I'm in Wilmington I feel very much like it's the Asheville of the NC coast. Either of these suggestions would definitely be worth scoping out, although I think I'd give the edge to Asheville, as coastal NC is still pretty laid-back, fine-dining-wise. The fresher the fish, the less need for spices anyway, right?