Few people come to North Carolina for the shopping. It’s a predictable scene of large shopping centers, outlet malls, and downtown districts peppered with little boutiques. The purchase highlight of this state is the crafts that come out of the western mountain towns. The foothills of the Appalachians are home to dozens of little hamlets that usually have some form of traditional craft like quilting, jewelry, or folk art.
The smaller cities in North Carolina are where you will find the most interesting selection of stores, most often in the center of town. Asheville has a wonderful little downtown area, particularly the historic Grove Arcade Public Market with its 50 engaging shops and eateries. Everything from heirloom antiques to folk crafts can be found inside this massive historic building. Local art is also a big part of Asheville’s shopping scene. There are more than 50 galleries in this town alone, mostly downtown, which showcase both local and national talent.
If you are fortunate enough to have your own car you drive around the western foothills where charming little towns like Brevard and Boone offer some very authentic Appalachian-style shopping. Boone’s Mast General Store has been around since 1883 and is a national historic treasure. Old Boone Mercantile opened the same year, and both have a fantastic atmosphere and some of the coolest old-timey products you’re likely to ever see in America.