top of page

Soothe Your Soul and Support Local: Destinations Offering Some Serious Retail Therapy

You go local for dining while traveling, so it also makes perfect sense to go local when shopping.

And in the South, there are authentic retail experiences nearly everywhere you visit.

Soothe your soul with some serious retail therapy while supporting local businesses in these destinations.

East Dallas' Deep Ellum's eclectic vibe isn't limited to its music and arts venues. The same spirit is found within the historic district's shopping scene.

All in a day, you can discover new authors at Deep Vellum Books, create a terrarium (to keep or give) at Jade & Clover, and find cheeses to complement your charcuterie board at The Mozzarella Company. And if you have a four-legged best buddy, find the perfect gift for them at The Upper Paw.

Deep Ellum is also home to Warstic Flagship Store and Headquarters, offering handcrafted baseball bats and equipment for other stic-based sports (think tennis, pickleball, lacrosse, etc.) You'll also find apparel, a coffee bar and more.

Parish Ink, personal collection

Much like the area itself, shopping in Lafayette, La., and Acadiana, in general, is distinctive. In downtown Lafayette, you can make a candle (The Bougie Bar), purchase a Louisiana-specific tee (Parish Ink), find the perfect hat or get one custom-made (The Cajun Hatter), discover Louisiana artists (San Souci Fine Crafts Gallery) and more.

About 15 miles from Lafayette, in Henderson, stop in the Louisiana Marketshops at the 115, featuring works and products from Louisiana artists and makers.

Cane River Pecan Company, personal collection

In New Iberia, 32 miles from Lafayette, you don't want to miss Cane River Pecan Company for treats and indulge in a slice of pie from the Pie Bar for yourself and Conrad Rice Mill, the country's oldest operating rive and KONRIKO® Company Store, filled with KONRIKO® products and more.

What began over 30 years ago in West Monroe, La., with around six antique stores, grew into Antique Alley with over 40 shops representing antique stores and boutique and specialty shops.

With most of the shops on Trenton Street in the Cotton Port Historic District, you can spend the day meandering in and out of various shops, sure to satisfy even the most astute shopper.

Find the perfect piece to complete or start a collection at Cotton Port Antique Mall or Trenton Street Antiques. Need help on what to get or give? Find inspiration from the different vendors at the Shoppes on The Alley. For more gifty-type items, from specialty food products to candles and the like, perfect for any celebration, check out Walsworth and Co., The Trenton House or Max Porter Provisions.

Tupelo, Miss.' personality shines through its downtown shopping district. There are plenty of stores to discover along Main and Spring Streets.

Pop in Reed's Department Store, the oldest family-owned store in the city, and get one of their popular t-shirts.

If you are looking for fun, funky items to give or keep for yourself, check out places like The MAIN ATTRACTION or Swirlz. On the other hand, you may want something distinctive and rare where you (or the gift recipient) will be among the few to have the piece or item, then head over to The Caron Gallery and discover a new artist or two.

Of course, a visit to downtown Tupelo isn't complete without stopping in Tupelo Hardware. The third-generation-owned store is etched in music history since it was here that Gladys Presley bought her son Elvis his first guitar.

Coastal Mississippi is a hidden gem for local shopping opportunities. From Ocean Springs to Pass Christian and all points in between, you can find many places to satisfy your retail therapy needs.

If you're in the market for local art, visit Shearwater Pottery in Ocean Springs or Gulfport Galleria of Fine Art. Unsure what you want, but know you want something special? Swing by Shops of Century Hall in Bay St. Louis and see what interests you. Ready to indulge? Check out the candles and more at Waveland Candle, the bath and body items at Threaded Cork in Biloxi, or find the perfect book at Pass Christian Books.

Looking for a new outfit or home goods or specialty foods? You can find it and more in downtown Huntsville, Ala.'s many shops and boutiques. Don't forget to stop in Harrison Brothers Hardware, the state's oldest continuously operating hardware store filled with many gifty items.

Found southwest of downtown is Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment, a place you have to experience in person to appreciate.

The former textile mill is now home to 158 public studios and over 200 working artists, making it the country's largest independent center for the arts.

Meet the artisans and watch them create as you explore the three levels of Lowe Mill. From ceramics to jewelry to photography and much more, including cigar box guitars, you won't have a problem finding something special. Finish up with a bourbon whiskey tasting at Irons ONE, selecting something yummy from Pizzelle's Confections for later, and ordering a hot or an iced tea from Piper & Leaf.

The half-mile stretch along 12South (12th South Avenue) in Nashville, Tenn., offers everything from vintage threads at Savant Vintage to handmade jewelry at Judith Bright to Southern elegance at Draper James, Reese Witherspoon's clothing line.

Complete your outing with a stop in White's Mercantile. Described as a modern-day general store, you can find tons of items perfect for your spaces or others' spaces.

Did you know Gatlinburg, Tenn., is home to the largest independent organization of artisans in the United States?

The Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, a short drive from downtown, is an eight-mile loop filled with over 100 Tennessee artisans and craftspeople, with many demonstrating their trade on-site.

Spend the day meandering through the many shops and galleries, representing everything from soaps to pottery to glass. There are also local places to eat and stay.

Over in Pigeon Forge, the Old Mill District is perhaps best known for The Old Mill Restaurant, but the area also has quite a collection of shops that include The Old Mill General Store, Old Mill Farmhouse Kitchen and Pigeon River Pottery, all worth a visit (and maybe a purchase or two.) Nearby are places like More Than a Candle, selling soy candles; Pigeon Forge Soap Company, offering various homemade bath and body products; and Iron Mountain Metal Craft, allowing you to try blacksmithing.

The scenery and shopping opportunities enchant you in Blue Ridge, Ga., beginning with Mercier Orchards. Best known for its fruits and vegetables, the market also features jams, jellies, apple butter and other gift items. In addition, there are also wines, hard ciders and treats available from the bakery.

With so many shops in the downtown area, it may seem overwhelming initially, but with some pre-planning, you'll be able to find the ones you want to browse.

Spruce up your apartment or home with a piece created by a regional artist from High Country Art.

If you're searching for something special for the gourmand in your life or want to try something new, the Pasta Market has you covered. Find everything from kinds of pasta to oils to sauces to recipe books and more.

For the perfect gift to give (even to yourself), head to Canoe and select from their handmade jewelry or canvas bags, and for the fly-fishing enthusiast in your life, stop in Oyster Fine Bamboo Fly Rods.

Be sure to stop in the Rum Cake Lady and The Sweet Shoppe of the South for even more treats to have on hand for visitors and, of course, to enjoy for yourself.

Take a ride aboard the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway (or a short drive) to the twin towns of McCaysville, Ga. and Copperhill, Tenn., and check out the stores at Riverwalk Shops in McCaysville and pop into places like Deaf Man Vinyls and build a record collection; or go into Cooperhill to stop in Copper Mine Candle Co., for a lotion candle, two or three.

Shopping scene in Newnan, Ga., personal collection

Before you take on the shops throughout downtown Newnan, Ga., and nearby Senoia, fortify yourself with a muffin, donut or a blueberry glazed biscuit, and a coffee from Heirloom Donuts. You are going to need that sugar-caffeine combination for some power shopping.

Whether it's a housewarming gift or something special for your dwelling, you'll want to head to Newnan Mercantile and browse their items. If you are in the market for local pieces, go to Corner Arts Gallery, Studio and Gift Shop for handmade pieces like pottery, woodwork, etc. Bold Soul Originals is another must-stop for local items, too. For more eclectic gifts, whether for the house or to wear (and that includes jewelry, too), Gillyweeds and Junk Starlet have you covered. Be sure to pop in Newnan Book Company for the latest releases, then head back to Hug Box and create a unique care package featuring products from artisans and small businesses from Georgia and the country.

Sidewalk scene in downtown Senoia, personal collection

When you visit downtown Senoia, you'll quickly understand why Hollywood is attracted to the area. Used as a backdrop for The Walking Dead, among other TV series and movies, it's a special place. And that sentiment extends to its shopping opportunities. Spend the day or afternoon browsing through establishments such as The Classic Market, which has gourmet items fit for any kitchen; Country Junction Soap, featuring goat-milk bath and body products; and The Good Junk Company, for things you learned you can't live without.

The retail experience in Thomasville, Ga.'s historic downtown is just as varied as the roses growing in the town's five-acre Rose Garden.

Even if you consider yourself more of a browser than a shopper, you'll enjoy checking out the boutiques and specialty shops.

For serious shoppers, some places should be on top of your itinerary. Relish Thomasville because you didn't know your kitchen needed it until you spotted it; Blake Candle, since no one can ever have enough candles; and The Wiregrass Gallery or Firefly for a truly original piece.

Be sure to visit The Bookshelf for a good book to relax with after a day of shopping and Sweet Grass Dairy for something to snack on as you read.

Inside Bodacious, personal collection

Nearly whatever you need, along with things you need to have right now, can be found in downtown Pensacola, Fla. For an added treat, those who visit on a Saturday can enjoy the Palafox Market, featuring everything from baked goods to works by artists.

Even if you don't consider yourself a cooking-type person, you will still want to take your time in Bodacious. Beyond a typical kitchenware store, they also offer a wide selection of gourmet foods, flavor-infused extra virgin olive oils, aged balsamic vinegars, and more. You can also take a break from browsing and get a cup of coffee and a light bite.

Whether you want to brighten up your living area or for a gift, swing by Blue Morning Gallery, a local artist co-op, to find inspiration and a piece or two. Also, check out Rusted Arrow, which has a little bit of everything, including Pensacola-specific items that make excellent souvenirs like Blue Angel tumblers, a Pensacola Beach sign puzzle and a Pensacola landmark tote.

With the 16 distinctive beach communities that make up South Walton, Fla., come plenty of exclusive shopping experiences.

Take a break from the beach to get your shopping on with the various merchants around Rosemary Beach or Seaside, the colorful shops at Grayton, and the artists at Gulf Place.

And that's just a start.

You can find everything from home decor to clothing to art, jewelry, and much more throughout the communities and signature shops like The Alys Shoppe, 30a Gear and Sandestin Clothing Company.

"Charming" is the first term to come into mind when exploring downtown Apalachicola, Fla.'s retail offerings.

Pick up some treats or a toy for your pet at Oysterbones, and then pick up a treat for yourself in the form of chocolate at Apalachicola Chocolate and Coffee Company or honey or mead (after tastings) from Apalachicola Bee Company. Find a treasure at The Tin Shed or a gift at The Riverside Mercantile.

Whether it's clothing, artwork or a souvenir, the small coastal town has everything one could need or want.

Four quaint mountain towns in Jackson County, N.C. ~ Cherokee, Dillsboro, Sylva and Cashiers are a shopping mecca for those who make it a point to shop locally.

In Cherokee, peruse (and purchase) pieces from Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, the oldest Native American cooperative in the country, highlighting works from over 350 Cherokee artisan members.

All within short distances of one another in Dillsboro are places like Dogwood Crafters and Tunnel Mountain Crafts, filled with unique pieces crafted by local and regional makers. Front Porch General Store is a must for those in the market for vintage and antique pieces. After checking out the shops, pop into the Dillsboro Chocolate Factory for homemade chocolates to indulge in later.

With places like The Farmhouse (gifts), End of Main (antiques), and Black Balsam Outdoors (outdoor gear), it's easy to lose track of time shopping along Sylva's Main Street.

And when you're done on Main, head to Mill Street, aka "Back Street," for more places like Treasures Unknown (antiques) and NOON (gifts.)

Cashiers has many upscale boutiques and shops for everyone on your list, including children and pets. There are also art galleries, antique stores and furniture stores.

River Arts District, personal collection

Shopping in Asheville, N.C., is an experience within itself. Peruse various specialized boutiques, eclectic stores and galleries throughout the city's neighborhoods.

From downtown to the River Arts District, former mills turned into more than 200 active artist studios, Biltmore Village to Weaverville and more, you'll need to devote at least two days to ensure you get to all the places.

Inside the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace, personal collection

The best place to begin your shopping excursion in Abingdon, Va., is at the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace. A welcome center of sorts, it introduces you to the region's rich culture and creative heritage and has plenty of artisan items for purchase.

If you are looking for more similar items, visit Holston Mountain Artisans, one of the oldest craft cooperatives in the country. You'll find one-of-a-kind handmade pieces reflecting the area's heritage.

Along with the artisan-crafted shops, Abingdon offers a mix of specialty stores and antique stores. There's something for every taste and budget.

As the Folk Arts and Crafts Capital of Kentucky, Berea is rich in shopping opportunities. Begin at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, where you can discover the works of over 800 Kentucky artisans.

In addition, the city has three areas filled with galleries and shops: Artisan Village, College Square and Chestnut Street. Plan your time wisely so that you can explore each area. Each storefront is as individual as the artist or artists.

Also, driving out to Tater Knob Pottery for their spoon bread bakers and other items is worth your time.


bottom of page