Retail Rises In Downtown Raleigh

Lumina before opening at 123 East Martin Street.
Retail is coming.

Retail in Downtown Raleigh is the next frontier. Compared to the Eats crowd, shopping is just the little brother that’s finally coming out to play. Creating somewhat of a shopping experience here has been the slow moving gear in this revitalization. The Downtown Raleigh Alliance (DRA) is certainly trying but we’ve yet to hit it big.

Downtown Raleigh has some fierce competition when it comes to shopping. Nearby Cameron Village is established and the development patterns of the city make the malls at Crabtree Valley and Triangle Towne Center a nice fit. So rather then bringing something everyone has already seen, downtown is creating a collection of shops that are unique to the area. And the shops are following the eating/drinking crowd if you pay close enough attention.

The true pioneers of retail in downtown were the art galleries and there’s nothing more unique then a big enough cluster of them, something you can’t find anywhere else in the city. With First Friday giving everyone exposure, other unique retailers set up shop for the downtown eats crowd, who keep things going after work hours.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a slow rise in the pure numbers. Using the internet archive, I took a look at the DRA’s site in April 2010 and compared it to their current website.

2010 2012
Clothing 20 24
Convenience 6 7
gifts 12 16

The numbers are nothing to be impressed with but it is slowly going up. It’s interesting to see that there is a lot of turnover but overall, we’re growing.

Clearly the retail scene is responding to the foot traffic. This foot traffic will increase as more apartments are under construction, more riders are riding transit, more restaurants are opening in downtown, more hotel space is coming, and more jobs are coming. We haven’t quite opened the floodgates yet but the retail scene, I think, is the next piece of downtown to keep an eye on.

For those interested, two new shops will be opening soon and will be celebrating. Cheers to the pioneers!

Grand Opening Celebration of Lumina

Date/Time: Fri., Nov. 2 from 5 p.m. until ….
123 E Martin Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Deco Grand Opening

Date/Time: Fri., Nov. 9 from 5 – 9 p.m.
19 W Hargett St
Raleigh, NC 27601

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  1. Anyone know the status of the new hotel near convention center? Is there a rendering of the hotel to be built near the parking deck?

  2. I’m always happy for more retail downtown, but maybe one of the reasons there’s such turnover is that the retail ventures are boutique stores. I wish all the luck to Lumina, but I don’t see $79 shirts turning around downtown. We need stores that the people living and working downtown will actually shop at. Stores you might see in a mall or strip mall. There’s a CVS that’s been closed every time I’ve tried to go in, and that’s it until you get to Cameron Village. I’d actually prefer some successful chains put in a few stores because they can float an unprofitable branch for a bit while the downtown area becomes thought of as a shop-able, livable area. I have 3 reasons why I won’t live downtown, even though I would like to: no backyards (which I can cope with), homeless people harassment, and no grocery/basic retail nearby. And I know many people who feel the same; they just don’t see downtown as a realistic alternative to the developed outer Raleigh area.

  3. No backyards? Homeless people harassment? You obviously don’t belong in a real city, Jeff. Take your pretentious shit elsewhere or please further back into the suburban white-flight bubble you came from.

  4. A viable downtown needs a grocery store, I wish that either a “local” like HT or Lowes would take a leap and open a store in downtown. It does not make sense to move downtown and to try and give up a car when you need one to do the most basic shopping.

    Love the fact that Raleigh is growing and it is growing in a smart planned way, well for the most part.

    You have to remember Raleigh is not a major metropolitan, yet, and trying to compare it to a European City is silly, Europe has a couple hundred years head start on us, so give us time to catch up.

  5. Who do you imagine is going to bring the population growth to downtown Raleigh, Aaron? A bunch of hipsters from Atlanta who think Raleigh is ironically cool?

  6. It’s going to be hard to say there’s retail in downtown Raleigh when you define downtown Raleigh as all of three blocks around the Raleigh Times. Sane people would probably go a bit further, like 6 or even *gasp* 10 blocks from the Raleigh Times. Sure, I know it’s difficult getting that far on fixed gear bikes, but there are buses that work just fine, too!

    There’s a good bit of retail in both Seaboard Station and Cameron village, both of which are within walking/biking/bus distance from the Raleigh Times.

    Leo, get a bike with more than one gear and check it out!

  7. Excited to see the Lumina space launching. There’s also the new Kindred Boutique on S. Wilmington that recently opened. It has a great vibe.
    Seems like two others also just recenlty opened on Wilmingtion.

  8. Honestly I think that in a decade or less, cameron village and that part of hillsborough street will be considered downtown. It’s starting to grow together, and I’ve heard people people from out of town consider the nc state area part of “downtown”.

  9. Amen to Aaron’s comment. Jeff, you obviously are not a visionary, have no understanding of urban development/planning, what it is like to live in a true urban area, why people choose to live in the city vs. the suburbs, the type of people that choose to live in the city, why there is a major shift towards urbanization in America today, or any comprehension or knowledge of urban geography or sociology at all.

    Also, if you cannot see that there has been a growing influx of population towards central Raleigh, including downtown, over the past ten years and cannot see that this is only the beginning than you must be completely oblivious. And yes, the largest demographic of this influx is and will continue to be young professionals or “hipsters” as you and many others who are insecure about themselves tend to excessively label most of them. These young professionals are a major force behind Raleigh’s recent economic growth. Atlanta, an interesting assumption since Atlanta is not a very hip city by any means, is not where these young professionals are typically coming from. Most commonly you will find they are coming from urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest. It is because North Carolina is so cheap that companies with well paying jobs in technology, research, and other highly skilled areas have been and will continue to move here and attract many highly educated individuals. It is from this that North Carolina can attribute its massive economic growth, improved quality of life, and the fact that Raleigh has been able to recently brag that it has been named one of the smartest cities in America.

    Don’t expect to see the urbanization of Raleigh end. There are many of us migrating to central Raleigh and a vast majority of us love high density, transit, and to shop at quirky little independently owned boutique shops.

  10. Joe, I think most people don’t consider CV to be downtown because it’s a suburban-style development. Also the city has an official definition of downtown and it doesn’t include CV, neither does the DRA definition. I’m sure most of the people in Cameron Park would probably not consider themselves ‘downtown’. I also think usage patterns would indicate that most people consider CV not downtown. BUT, you make a good point that CV is fairly centrally-located and the current definition of DT (which I think is fair given the building patterns) is tiny compared to most cities of 400,000. Eventually (hopefully) the urban development pattern will expand (CV is already seeing some growth). Of course we’ll have to address issues like traffic, water usage, etc. if/when that happens. But for now I think it’s fair to go with the city’s definition of downtown.

  11. Jeffrey K:

    You are right, Atlanta as an assumptionm is not a hip city. I have firneds there, after 5:00, downtown is a ghost town. Just had a conversation with a friend who has lived there for decades. He cannot remember tha last time he went to the underground. He said it is dangerous and far from what it used to be. The core of downtown Atlanta is not where people want to be. Raleigh has SMART growth and I have seen the change over the past 21 years. Also agree, in next 10 years, downtown population will drastically change for the positive. light rail needs to be in the plan and I STILL believe an arena is a must (this facility alone will change the landscape of downtown Raleigh)

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