Retail Therapy in Hickory NC

vintage jewelry WNC

Relaxation, escape, entertainment, and rejuvenation. When asked to identify the benefits of mountain living, these answers often come out on top. According to researchers who study the psychology of marketing, they’re the same things that top the list of “the positive effects of retail therapy.” Or, to put it another way, the happiness you experience by living in the mountains is a lot like the happiness you feel when shopping.

We’re no scientists, but that sort of thought-provoking formula leads us to only one conclusion… We should all go shopping in the mountains! What better way to double your happiness quotient? And these days, we can all use a little extra happiness.

Well, guess what, science! We’re a step ahead of you. We’ve already scoped out the shopping scene in the mountain towns in North Carolina. And our research points us time and again to one of our favorites – Hickory, NC.

Hickory’s city officials use the phrase “small town values with big city drive” when describing this charming mountain oasis that’s managed to maintain its rich history and down-home warmth even as it’s grown to become the country’s most sprawling metro area, the “retail hub of the foothills,” and home to the largest shopping mall in the region.

A three-time winner of the All-American Cities Award, and the 10th best place to live in the United States according to Reader’s Digest, Hickory is best known for its finely crafted American-made furniture. But, more and more, Hickory is becoming known as a favorite Blue Ridge destination thanks to its seasonal art, music, and food festivals, its vibrant night life, Art Walk, Farmer’s Market, and a fabulous line-up of cafés, restaurants, and craft beer pubs and breweries. This town also comes with a special events calendar that’s nonstop packed with fun things to do in Hickory North Carolina.

But our favorite thing to do in Hickory is shop! And, now that we have scientific proof of its therapeutic benefits, let’s get started. Here are some of our favorite retail destinations in Hickory, NC. Grab your holiday shopping list, and make your way downtown. There are plenty of seasonal specials this time of year. But this town’s treasure trove of shopping options is enough to satisfy shoppers year-round: 

ELLA BLU (214 Union Square NW)        

This is the go-to boutique for fashionistas living in Hickory and the surrounding mountain towns in North Carolina. But the global appeal of Ella Blu extends far beyond the Blue Ridge. “It’s still my favorite store and I live in Dubai,” says one online reviewer, “I can’t wait to come back and do some power shopping!” Ella Blu keeps its inventory constantly updated by visiting trunk shows and fashion events across the country, then hand-selecting the hottest clothing, jewelry, shoes, and accessories. There’s even a consignment section that features gently used high-end fashion finds. Shoppers love the unique inventory of chic clothing and accessories at affordable prices. And they rave about the friendly one-on-one customer service Ella Blu.            

THE NATURAL OLIVE (216 Union Square NW)            

Have you ever walked into a charming Italian olive oil store where your senses are treated to the vibrant tastes and aromas of infused oils, bright balsamic vinegars, and fresh-baked warm ciabatta breads? That’s the experience The Natural Oil brings to Downtown Hickory in their Tuscany-inspired store with its canister-lined wood shelves, old knotted floors, and high ceilings, accented with mood lighting and piped-in Italian music. This place is heaven for the senses. Or as the Natural Olive calls it, “a fun, taste-inspiring experience” where you sample, smell, and sip your way through 50 varieties of fresh oils on tap before choosing your favorites to take home in a bottle that’s corked and sealed just for you. There are featured favorites and seasonal selections, and owner Noelle Walker is happy to share her knowledge of each hand-selected product. You can also find sauces, spices, pastas, cookbooks, home goods, and oil-based soaps and skincare products at this elegantly rustic Italian shop.      

TURNIP THE ARTS (266 First Avenue NW)       

The name is as clever as the shop. This charming gallery of hand-crafted goodies offers a creative mix of gifts, art and events. It’s conveniently located in the heart of Hickory and nestled among some of the area’s best loved restaurants. Turnip the Arts brings its own flavor to Fifth Avenue with a dash of the eclectic. This gallery shows and sells handmade artwork by local, regional, and national artists. Gifts for sale include pottery, woodwork, glass work, jewelry, metal work, paintings, photography, fiber art, and a variety of soaps, lotions and candles. If you’re someone who enjoys “Makin’ the Arts,” they offer a series by that name, which offers classes in jewelry and craft-making. They also offer paint parties, culinary arts classes, and other fun instructional events. With Turnip the Arts in town, you never run out of creative things to do in Hickory North Carolina

BISANAR JEWELER (226 Union Square NW)   

This is not your typical jewelry store. The Bisanar Company upholds a long tradition of excellence dating back to 1896 when Dr. George Bisanar first opened the doors for business. Well over a century later, Bisanar is known as “the highest quality jeweler in North Carolina.” They maintain an antique and estate collection that features Edwardian, Victorian, art nouveau, art deco, retro, and plique à jour jewelry. The designer collection features pearls, diamonds, and other precious gemstones set in platinum, gold, and sterling by acclaimed designers, including Scott Kay, Mikimoto, and Alex Sepkus. Bisanar also has an impressive line of fine Swiss watches from names like Rayond Weil, Mont Blanc, and Cyma. In addition to jewelry, shoppers will enjoy browsing special occasion gifts, including designer evening bags and accessories, as well as fine crystal, silver, and porcelain from top-of-the-line brands, including Towle, Waterford, Lenox, Lunt, Reed & Barton, Cybis, and Boehm. The offerings here are extensive, but shoppers will never feel overwhelmed because at The Bisanar Company, “exemplary customer service is still the number one priority.”     

How’s that for a relaxing and rejuvenating retail therapy session! And that’s just a small sampling of what awaits you on the Downtown Hickory shopping scene. There’s plenty to more to explore. Hickory is chock-full of shops to help you check all the items off your holiday shopping list: clothing, jewelry, gifts, arts, crafts, wines, camping and sporting goods, and a whole lot more.

We all know the saying When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. But in our view (from the beautiful Blue Ridge), we’d like to offer an alternative for an even happier lifestyle: When the going gets tough, the tough go to the mountains…. AND go shopping!

When you’re ready to up your happiness quotient, look no further than the mountains of Western North Carolina. You’ll find Smoky Mountain land for sale that’s surrounded by spectacularly scenic landscape and with access to an abundance of shops, restaurants, live music, art, and seasonal festivals and activities all in the Hickory-Morganton-Lenoir area.

We recommend you start your search at The Coves Mountain River Club in Lenoir NC. The beautiful historic town of Lenoir is just a quick drive from Hickory, and it’s one of the most charming mountain towns in North Carolina. When you settle into a home at The Coves in Lenoir, you’re treating yourself to a rare combination of mountain and river living with five miles of pristine river footage, spectacular scenic mountain views, and amenities for days.

Call us at 828.754.0700 to schedule your visit. We’ll be happy to point you in the direction of all the best shopping so you can combine your tour of The Coves with a healthy dose of retail therapy.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Hickory | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Bargain Hunting at Tanger Outlet Mall in Blowing Rock

Shopping at Outlet Malls

Mountain living has long been cherished for its simplicity and solitude. It’s the ideal lifestyle for those of us who prefer the joys of uncomplicated nature to the noise and bluster of the big city. But even while we enjoy the quiet life in our Carolina mountain homes, we still have an appreciation for big-city style and fashion. After all, it only makes sense that the inspiration we find in the beauty and comfort of our daily surroundings extends to a love of beauty and comfort in our fashion as well.  

Who knows better than a mountain lover how to dress in durable but stylish clothing? As avid hikers, we know the value of a good boot that’s both comfortable and fabulous. We understand how to layer our way through all four seasons. We’re experts in finding good-looking gear for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, skiing, and all our favorite outdoor activities. Best of all, we know how to pull together an outfit that can take us from a savory brunch with friends in Lenoir to an afternoon art crawl in Hickory to an evening of live music in Morganton. And we know the one place where we can find clothing and accessories from the labels we love for all of the above – Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC.

Located at the southwest quadrant of the Blue Ridge Parkway and US Hwy 321, this popular Blowing Rock shopping destination features a variety of brand-name and designer outlet stores. It’s big enough that you’ll get your fill of shopping, but compact enough for you to explore from end to end in one outing. Customers give high marks to this location’s friendly customer service, and they rave about the special deals and discounts. We like the interactive map on the mall’s web site. And thanks to free Wi-Fi available throughout the center, you can pull up the easy-to-use map on your phone and let it guide you through your day of shopping.

Let’s face it. If you’re coming Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC, chances are you’re here for the clothes or mountain home furnishings! So let’s start there. As you stroll through store after store of the latest fashions, you’ll find big savings on designer labels and brand names from all your favorites, including J. Crew, Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, LOFT, Van Heusen, Bass, White House Black Market Chico’s, Banana Republic, Wilson’s Leather, Levi’s, and Gap. And for the kids, there’s Gymboree, Oshkosh B’Gosh, and Carter’s Babies and Kids. Trust us, you will never pay full price at any of these stores.

But if you’re looking to score even steeper discounts, just pull up that interactive map on your phone, and link to the special deals and coupons that you can find right there in real time. Need help? Just visit Tanger Shopper Services located right there in the center of the mall. The friendly Tanger associates will help you find what you’re looking for, and they’ll even let you in on how to get some exclusive offers, coupons, and gift cards to get even more out of your shopping experience.  

If you haven’t worked up an appetite by this point, we’d be surprised! Now that you’ve finished in the fitting rooms and picked out all your favorite fashions, it’s time to load your shopping bags in the car and head back inside for lunch at Cheeseburgers Grille located conveniently inside the mall. This local family favorite has soups, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs and, of course, hot-off-the-grill burgers to satisfy your taste buds and re-energize you for the rest of your shopping expedition.

So let’s get back to it! We haven’t even tackled the sporting goods and specialty shops yet. There’s a Vitamin World, a Kitchen Collection, and side by side at one end of the mall are Board Paradise and the new Sports Fanatics. Both are fully stocked with discounted gear and equipment for all kinds of activities, weather, and terrain. We could spend hours at these two stores alone, trying out a variety of rods and reels, or buying a new set of skateboard wheels. Those of us with Carolina mountain homes like to stock up on the latest gear for hiking, biking, fishing, and all the invigorating activities that come with mountain living. Because when we’re finished enjoying a day of Blowing Rock shopping, we’re ready to get back to the great outdoors. 

Those of us heading back to The Coves Mountain River Club –  just 23 miles away from Tanger Outlet Mall –  are lucky enough to live in a NC mountain real estate community with five miles of frontage along the Johns River, where well-stocked waters and pristine views of Grandfather Mountain add up to a perfect day. Living in such close proximity to Tanger Outlets Blowing Rock NC, where we can buy all the essentials for all four seasons of mountain-river living – from waterproof footwear, fleece hoodies, and insulated gloves to t-shirts, tennis shoes, and sunglasses all at discount prices – is just one of the many great benefits of life at The Coves. It’s a peaceful, secluded Blue Ridge oasis with easy access to outlet-mall merchandise to enhance the mountain experience.

Are you ready to experience the best of both worlds? Mountains plus river? Seclusion plus shopping? Rich lifestyle plus bargain shopping? Drop us a line to let us know you’re coming, and we’ll be happy to show you some of the finest NC mountain real estate we call The Coves Mountain River Club. Call us at 828.754.0700.  

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page Complimentary Magazine.

Tags: Blowing Rock | Shopping & Antique Hunting

WNC Cheese Trail – Farm to Table Deliciousness

WNC Cheese TrailAttention curd nerds, cheese buffs, and foodies. It’s time to wake up and smell the gouda. As the glorious mountain sunrise emerges on the horizon to light up the beautiful mountain towns in North Carolina, it’s time to celebrate cheese season. Time to visit the friendly family of independent dairy farmers, creameries, and cheese makers in your favorite western NC mountain communities. And there’s no better path to cheesy goodness than the WNC Cheese Trail, one of the area’s tastiest attractions.

What’s the WNC Cheese Trail? It’s an innovative approach to connecting local cheese makers with enthusiastic cheese lovers. This one-of-a-kind tasty tour of cheese-tastic businesses blaze a delectable trail through the Blue Ridge mountains and across the beautiful countryside to create the perfect cheddar-lovin’ experience.

Introduced in 2012 by a group of dedicated cheese makers intent on raising awareness about the fabulous local cheeses being made right here in mountain towns in North Carolina, the WNC Cheese Trail has grown in both size and reputation over the years. Today, the trail spans across 33 counties, extending from I-77 to the western border of NC, and includes dozens of member organizations, including creameries, restaurants, breweries, inns, cheese shops, and farmers’ markets. The WNC Cheese Trail provides you with a treasure map that leads to each of these local businesses that support the industry. Just follow the map to find your favorite places for browsing, sampling, observing, tasting, and learning how cheeses are produced. And don’t be shy about buying a few favorites to bring back home.

The WNC Cheese Trail is open year-round, and since it’s virtually impossible to hit all the hot spots on the trail in one day, we recommend planning to stay a while and keep coming back for more. Some of the stops along the WNC Cheese Trail are located in or near Lenoir, which is also home to The Coves Mountain River Club. Why not combine your Cheese Trail experience with a closer look at our gated mountain community nestled in the foothills that combines rustic mountain living with some of the best outdoor amenities, including a neighborhood vineyard and garden. Just imagine sipping your own brand of wine – harvested, stomped, and aged right in your own backyard – with some crisp local fruit and a fresh creamery cheese you picked up while venturing along the WNC Cheese Trail.

The dairy closest to The Coves is the Ripshin Goat Dairy, located right along the Yadkin River in Happy Valley. Inspired by goat dairies in France as well as the historic Carl Sandburg Farm in Flat Rock, NC, this local family-owned operation once produced hand-made farmstead cheeses, including herbed chevre (using fresh herbs straight from their own gardens), goat milk feta, farmer’s cheese, and on special occasions, chocolate goat cheese truffles. Now retired, these cheese makers have turned their contemporary dairy building into a mixed-use facility, which is now used by bakers, pickle-makers, and jam and jelly makers. But they invite you to come for a tour, and say hello to their multi-generational herd of American Saanen dairy goats who enjoy grazing along 20 acres of woods and pasture on this beautiful NC dairy farm.

Plan to visit Ripshin Goat Dairy (1865 Hwy 268, Lenoir, NC) as part of your WNC Cheese Trail experience. But call ahead to schedule your tour, where you’ll meet the goats, learn about goat husbandry, and basic cheese making (828-758-0906). To purchase cheeses to take back to The Coves, be sure to stop at one of the active dairy farms, shops, and creameries along the WNC Cheese Trail, including:

        Blue Ridge Mountain Creamery
327 Flat Creek Road, Fairview, NC
(Call ahead: 828-551-5739 )

        English Farmstead Cheese

19456 US 221 North, Marion, NC
(Open Fri & Sat, 10am – 6pm)

        Looking Glass Creamery

57 Noble Rd., Fairview, NC
(Open Year Round: Thu 3pm – 7pm, Fri & Sat 11am – 5pm)

        Mountain Farm

3001 Halls Chapel Rd., Burnsville, NC
(Open Year Round: 1st Sat of the month 10am – 5pm)

        Oakmoon Farm &  Creamery
262 Baker Lane, Bakersville, NC
(Farm stand open Thu & Fri 2pm – 5:30pm, Sat 9am – 5pm)

        Round Mountain Creamery
2203 Old Fort Rd., Black Mountain, NC
(Open Year Round. Call ahead: 828-669-0718)

        Spinning Spider Creamery
4717 East Fork Rd, Marshall, NC  28753
(Open May-Dec, Fri-Sun 12noon – 4pm)

        Yellow Branch Cheese and Pottery

1073 Old Yellow Branch Rd., Robbinsville, NC
(Open Apr-Dec, Tue-Sat 12noon – 5pm)

WNC Cheese Trail tours and visits are open on varying schedules throughout the year. But summertime offers special events you won’t want to miss. Last month, the Second Annual Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest took place on April 24th at Highland Brewing in Asheville. This lively festival celebrated the best of southern cheese and benefits the WNC Cheese Trail (a 501c6 organization). Attendees senses were indulged as they watched the process of cheese making, learn about pairings, taste the products, touch the animals, chat with the cheese makers, and the lucky were able to buy a few of their favorite flavors to take back to The Coves.

After enjoying the Cheese Trail and or a Cheese Fest experience, don’t be surprised if your friends and neighbors at The Coves Mountain River Club are wow’d by your cheese prowess and impressed by your choice to support these small independent cheese makers. And when you pair a few of their locally grown gourmet cheeses with the wines made from your home-grown grapes as you share a perfect Blue Ridge sunset with friends from your side-by-side handcrafted rocking chairs on the porch of Pisgah Mountain Lodge, you’ll wonder why you didn’t move here years ago.

This is living! This is the life! Of all the charming NC mountain communities, we know The Coves Mountain River Club is the perfect pairing of mountain and river living. Why not make The Coves your forever home. Visit our beautiful community found in the foothills of Lenoir. Invite your friends along to enjoy a unique mountain adventure on the WNC Cheese Trail, and you’re sure to melt their hearts like a creamy fondue.

If you’re exploring the area for the first time, ask for our 84 page complimentary Western North Carolina Visitor’s Guide which provides more information about living in the foothills.

Tags: Shopping & Antique Hunting

Farmers Markets in Foothills of North Carolina

Farmers Markets in the Foothills of NC

There is nothing more fresh, enjoyable and satisfying than purchasing produce from a local farmer’s market. Freshly picked fruits, vegetables, preserves and herbs are available at farmer’s markets all around the NC mountain communities. Many of them are conveniently located in the best retirement places in North Carolina; mountain towns such as Lenoir, Morganton, Hickory, Blowing Rock and Boone.Read More »

Tags: Blowing Rock | Hickory | Lenoir | Morganton | Shopping & Antique Hunting

Antique Hunting in the Foothills NC

Antique Hunting in the Foothills NC

For many of us, treasure hunting began in our earlier years as a child. Finding gold coins, that were hopefully filled with chocolate, was the grand prize after following the clues on a treasure map. Retirees have just as much fun antique hunting in the mountains. Perhaps inspired by the television series, the Antique Road Show, the reward can be incredibly valuable. If not inspired by a cash payout, many of us appreciate craftsman shop sometimes dating back centuries.Read More »

Tags: Hickory | Lenoir | Morganton | Shopping & Antique Hunting