Top 5 Picks for Experiential Retail in Durham

  1. Parker and Otis

112 South Duke St

There is only one place in Durham where you can get a latte, lunch, and the perfect birthday gift all at once, and that is Parker & Otis. Parker & Otis is a unique combination of restaurant and gift shop. Located in historic Downtown Durham, they are open seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch with an amazing array of gifts, gourmet foods, cheese, wine and candy. Their menu is created with many locally sourced ingredients and coffee from Durham’s very own, Counter Culture. Aside from ingredients grown and handpicked in the Triangle, they also have other goods from all over NC. From Winston to Wilmington, Parker & Otis carries all sorts of baked goods and other non perishables in their shop.

Whether you’re shopping for a birthday, making a gift basket for a friend going through a hard time, or just want a new coffee spot to hang with your friends, Parker & Otis is a must try.


2. Vert and Vogue

353 W. Main St

Before I tell you about this story, fall in love with its story, “Nadira and Ryan Hurley, founders of Vert & Vogue, met in Paris in 2001 at a men’s boutique managed by Nadira. After buying a new wardrobe from her, Ryan couldn’t help but ask Nadira out on a date. After a little persistence (she didn’t date her customers), she accepted. They were soon married in 2002. Following a honeymoon year living in Paris, they moved to New York and started a family. They soon found themselves in the suburbs wanting more. For Ryan, that meant a green business. For Nadira, a return to retail fashion. From those intentions, the concept of Vert & Vogue was born. The gritty revitalizing city of Durham would become its perfect home. Nadira and Ryan opened the doors of Vert & Vogue on September 10, 2008.” Vert and Vogue is known for being the best selection of contemporary goods for women from today’s top independent designers and they fully live up to the expectation.

Vert & Vogue goes above and beyond a simple clothing store. They offer mindfully-made designs and personal styling, with care. They curate hard-to-find clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods and have a heart for quality. Coolest of all is that in December 2017, they became a certified B Corp. They are committed to supporting artisans who create on a small scale and focus on sustainable practices. Take a closer look at the quality of your closet, and then step into Vert & Vogue to make some important changes.  


3. The Zen Succulent

121 Market Street

When mother/daughter team of Margaret and Megan George started their shop in a small space on Parrish Street, they had no clue that their plant shop would become THE place to see in Durham. From people wanting to go there and take photographs, or just to be able to post and say that they finally got to check it out, Zen Succulent quickly became a popular location and taught us all how to care for plants like children. Now, they have opened a second location in Downtown Raleigh AND have recently moved to a bigger Downtown Durham space due to their large success. From unique succulents to a build your own terrarium station, there is so much beauty to see and experience. They strive to bring fresh air and brightness into locals lives and if you haven’t visited their shop yet, it is a must.


4. Chet Miller

Photo by: Walter Magazine

118 West Parrish St

Welcome to the coolest store ever. Filled with local goods and other independently makers, Chet Miller has a variety of elevated goods for everyday life and also cards and books that will make you laugh your butt off. Chet Miller is the perfect locally owned shop to find a gift for someone who has everything, but then will also make you want to buy many pretty little things for yourself. For example, last time I visited Chet Miller, I left with a hilarious book about Kim Kardashian for a friend just because it was one of those random gifts that you would never buy for yourself, but instantly love it. Then, I also left with a blanket that was so soft I couldn’t leave without it.

From paper products to cookbooks to beautiful office supplies, Chet Miller is filled with things that spark joy. If you want some gifts that have some personality to them, this needs to be your next visit.


5. Bungalow

339 W. Main St

Located in the heart of Five Points, Bungalow features eclectic home decor, handcrafted stoneware, fine French linens, hand-forged pewter from Italy, local woodcraft, local folk art, Portuguese soaps, local all-natural skincare and bath products, silk pillows from Turkey, North Carolina crafted leather, and fine stationery. When it comes down to it, Bungalow is a beautiful space filled with unique finds to add to your home. From kitchen to bed linens, if you want to furnish your living space with more than the basic Bed, Bath, and Beyond, switch to Bungalow.


Thank you all for joining us at Urban MJ! We hope to continue to serve as an educator of urban development, economic growth, and the best of the best local goods and services! Follow us along to stay in the know of upcoming Triangle news and industry updates!

Out with the old, in with the Concept

Concept stores are quickly persuading us to trade in the same old same old for a fresh experience, especially when it comes to food & drink. You can drink coffee while cats paw around, eat lobster rolls while also having rolled ice cream, and you can even support a nonprofit by buying lunch at A Place at the Table.

Why simply drink a cup of coffee when you could drink a cup of coffee and also get your motorcycle repaired at the same time? Brilliance. Jammer Cafe in Canada has done just that and the people love it. Who has the next experiential retail idea to share with Raleigh!? We want to hear it.

Check out this concept coffee shop and all it has to offer:


Top 5 Picks for Experiential Retail in Raleigh

As urban areas flourish, more and more experiential retail is popping up and Raleigh is no exception. Experiential retail means that there is more happening than simply product being sold. The idea is that a retailer offers consumers a chance to buy an experience, rather than just an object or service. Studies are showing that new generations are looking to buy an experience and are willing to spend a great deal more money on a place that offers a certain vibe or extra service, rather than buying the average product on the shelf.

These retailers below are selling products that have a bigger purpose. From supporting local artisans, to building partnerships with makers in other countries, these local shops are making a difference in our city and in other parts of the world. As these local shops thrive, that means our community thrives! Shopping local keeps money in our community, and shopping through these retailers does just that! So without further ado, here are our top 5 picks for experiential retail in Raleigh!


  1. The Flourish Market:

Photo by: The News and Observer

In 2015, The Flourish Market owner, Emily Sexton, left her corporate career as a Vice President of Communications and Change Management for an Investment Bank, and decided to transfer her skills over to help win people over to the idea of using their purchasing power for good. What started as a mobile store in an old uniform delivery truck, has now transformed into a gorgeous brick and mortar store on 713 Tucker St.

The Flourish Market wins us over daily by sharing personal stories and behind the scenes on their social media, partnering with other local retailers, and by selling beautiful goods made by beautiful women. Their business currently partners with 50+ brands that work all over the world, providing dignified jobs and fair wages to inspiring artisans and makers in vulnerable communities. Shopping at The Flourish Market not only supports makers in communities where it could be hard to make money, but also supports economic growth in our own community. Check out their store front or shop their website!


2) Raleigh Provisions:

Photo by: Raleigh Provisions

Pretty new to the Downtown Raleigh area is our number 2 pick: Raleigh Provisions. It is a corner shop full of North Carolina specialty food, wine, beer and custom-made gift baskets. Raleigh Provisions is your one stop shop for all North Carolina artisan goods. The shop is a place for getting to know North Carolina’s food and beverage market and the people making it happen.

From local beer to artisan chocolate to fresh eggs, all your local favorites are sold here!

All items they sell are carefully selected for quality and transparency of ingredients, as well. Local goods often are made with consideration of the consumer. Local makers care deeply about the health and wellness of their customers and strive to provide the best, whereas some big box stores might not have your best interests at heart. Shopping local at Raleigh Provisions not only provides economic support to local makers, but also promotes health and wellness for our community.

Raleigh Provision also often hosts events in partnership with local business owners and brands. Be sure to follow them on social media to stay in the know for future workshops or meet and greets!


3) Deco Raleigh:

Photo by: Deco Raleigh

This unique Raleigh retailer is hitting some huge milestones this year! They just opened their brand new location that combined Deco and their Deco home store. Their new location is next door to Quercus, facing Salisbury Street and you can’t miss it! They are also celebrating their 5 year anniversary in November! Deco is known as the go-to for unique gift buying or buying a local good for your home. They sell a variety of products for each and every lifestyle. Deco is the place to go to find trendy new brands like Swell water bottles or local Raleigh goods such as Videri Chocolate, Raleigh themed stickers, or North Carolina tees! Aside from selling goods that put money back into our community, they also donate to many local nonprofits every year. So whether you purchase for yourself or as a gift, know that your money is giving back.

Check out their website to see all the brands they sell and to read their blog posts! Be sure to also check out their brand new location!


4) Stitch :

Photo by: Stitch

We’ve all seen this colorful corner store Downtown right beside Raleigh Times, but have you ever peeked inside to check it out? Stitch is a retail store filled with simplistic and sophisticated bags designed by Raleigh native, Holly Aiken. Stitch, the retail design studio for Holly Aiken Bags, first opened in 2004 and moved to its current location on Hargett Street in 2008.

“In addition to retail space, Aiken devotes the second half of Stitch to the design studio and manufacturing facility of her distinctive bags and accessories. Every Holly Aiken Bag is built in North Carolina – cut by hand at Stitch, and sewn by local independent seamstresses. Her distinctive look is present in every piece – simple lines, distinctive colors, and constructed with precision and care to withstand the daily grind.”

Stitch supports numerous local, independent seamstresses and is a unique place in our community. If you’re looking to shop local and meet some wonderful people in the process, check out Stitch and Holly Aiken Bags!


5) Port of Raleigh:

Port of Raleigh is not only known for their bright yellow wall, but also for their simplistic and modern style. Full of home decor and furniture, Port of Raleigh is a go-to for decorating your home with unique and artful pieces. They work with well-known, independent, and emerging designers and studios from around the world to create a unique collection of contemporary yet timeless items. Shopping at Port of Raleigh supports local designers and small business owners around the world. Owner Ana Maria Munoz believes that “through good, simple design, these things we live with and use daily can be useful and artful, purposeful yet clever, and perhaps most important, refreshingly modern yet timeless.”

Check out their store next to Poole’s Diner on S. McDowell St.


Thank you all for joining us at Urban MJ! We hope to continue to serve as an educator of urban development, economic growth, and the best of the best local goods and services! Follow us along to stay in the know of upcoming Triangle news and industry updates!