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General Shopping
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        If shopping is your passion, North Carolina's southern coast offers abundant opportunities to indulge it. The steady influx of retirees, a thriving golf industry, relocating businesses, active year-round tourism, booming commercial and residential development have brought with them a wide range of shopping options, from one-of-a-kind boutiques to national chain mega-stores. Whether your tastes lean toward the traditional, eclectic, funky or old-fashioned, you'll find what you're looking for here. 

Today, few of the region's communities remain unaffected by this retail growth. Shopping centers, both large and small, abound in and around Wilmington and the adjacent beach areas, competing with each other to provide the best, most interesting goods and services. Hallmarks of the current retail development trend include aesthetically pleasing architecture, landscaped grounds, sculptured art, plentiful parking and upscale shops that rival those in any major metropolitan area. These multi-use commercial centers usually include restaurants, office space and service providers. Near Wrightsville Beach, Lumina Station, Landfall Shopping Center, Mayfaire Town Center and The Forum are excellent examples of this type of center (all are described in this chapter). The number of independently owned retail businesses continues to grow as well.

Primary business and shopping areas for the Port City include downtown Wilmington, the College Road area, Market Street, Oleander Drive, Monkey Junction and the Military Cutoff/Eastwood Road area adjacent to Wrightsville Beach, but don't hesitate to venture off onto side streets, where you'll discover a host of shopping treasures. Wilmington also has the area's greatest concentration of superstores and discount chains, including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, Sears, JCPenney, Home Depot,  Petsmart, Sam's Club, Office Max and Stein Mart, in addition to the upscale Hecht's, Belk and Dillard's department stores.

As you explore the region's shopping options, you will notice that coastal North Carolinians love gourmet foods, wine, imported cheeses, hard-to-find herbs and spices, ethnic cooking and specialty bakeries. Local food markets and chain grocery stores, while not covered in this chapter, are abundant throughout the area and will stock or order new items at a customer's request.

This chapter contains a mere sampling of available shopping possibilities, including some of the unique, as well as the tried-and-true shops. These have been divided into easy-to-read sections for some of the major areas of Wilmington, the Wrightsville Beach vicinity and the coastal communities of Carolina Beach, Topsail Island, Southport-Oak Island and the South Brunswick beaches.

For the off-season visitor traveling to the beach communities, most of the stores and businesses included in this chapter offer year-round hours of operation. However, many reduce or limit these hours in the winter months so it's wise to call ahead to make sure the store will be open when you plan to visit.