Friday, November 14, 2008

Short Pump Town Center

Shopping was my hobby. I say “was” because being married to a minister limits both my time and budget. Prior to the mid nineties, Raleigh shopping lacked the pizzazz and variety of the bigger metros. Vacations were planned for the sole purpose of shopping. At that time, my two favorite malls in the southeast were Tyson’s Corner in Virginia and Lenox Square in Atlanta. Fortunately my job at IBM took me to Atlanta several times a year. I always left RDU with a large suitcase, sparsely filled, and returned with bags bulging. The changing season and colors of fall signified my annual trip to Washington, DC. My friend and I would take several days, shopping every mall in the area and sampling the plethora of interesting restaurants. The boardwalk fries doused in malt vinegar and ketchup discovered in Annapolis, Maryland, are still one of my favorite finds. Just to balance out our activities, we would spend at least half a day at the Smithsonian. Since then, Raleigh has morphed into quite the shopping Mecca. North Hills, Cameron Village, Crabtree Valley, and Cary Towne Center all received major face lifts. Streets of South Pointe and Triangle Towne Center complete the list of major shopping centers in Wake and Durham counties. Even sleepy Chapel Hill has grown with a huge new Southern Season, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and a sparkly chic Franklin Street.

On our trip back from Massanutten last month we stopped in Short Pump, a suburb of Richmond. Raleigh and Richmond are so much alike. Here we were in Short Pump and I was reminded of North Raleigh and Wake Forest: carefully planned communities with upscale shopping and comfortable living. I found this area on the internet. With Williams-Sonoma as my goal, I plotted a trip to Short Pump Town Center. ( Unique. I was expecting a mall like the Streets of South Pointe with most stores enclosed in a traditional mall with a few stores open to the outside. This mall is entirely open. The corridors are open to the outside, yet protected from the elements with roofs and overhangs. I enjoyed walking through this beautifully appointed mall; however, during the heat of summer or the bitter cold of winter, this mall would take on the inconvenience of a strip mall. I especially loved the elaborate pump fountain, but the crowning glory for me is the two-story Crate and Barrel. This Crate and Barrel carries everything from sofas, tables, and sideboards, down to dishtowels and drinking glasses. I could have spent a lot of time and money here. Because this was the last leg of our vacation, we were tired and ready to see our girls so we didn’t spend much time here. I would love to go back soon with a blank credit card and a case of Red Bull. Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Williams-Sonoma, J. Jill, and Orvis are just a few of the fabulous stores that beckon me.

Not only does this mall have exceptional shopping, the surrounding restaurants are impressive as well: California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Firebirds Rocky Mountain Grill, and Maggiano’s Little Italy. And if you need a vacation from the stress of shopping and eating, there’s even an Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa. To quote the governor of California, “I’ll be back!”