Irresistible Shopping | Highlands, NC
As we glide into the Holiday Season, the entire spectrum of Plateau retailers is beckoning.
There is an extraordinary stand of gnarled dwarf cedars perched precariously upon a rock dome at The Mountain Retreat and Learning Center.
Some of them are over 200 years old and they somehow survive in this most inhospitable of environments – they’re literally rooted upon granite/gneiss, high winds make a regular appearance (and hurricanes like 1995’s Opal), and they’re in a spot that’s essentially a mammoth lighting rod.
Yet they’re beautiful, even majestic, in their twisted glory. In fact, botanists and artists from around the world have come to The Mountain to understand and venerate them.
I’m bringing this up because this little clump of trees is mirrored by the shops and galleries that’re spread across the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.
Each has sprung up in this formidable business environment – marked by a painfully short busy season, a ferocious rate of rent, and vulnerable to the economic storms buffeting other parts of the country. And, of course, the sudden arrival of a virus that’s tipped the entire world into a freefall.
Like those twisted trees clinging to their flinty soil, all of those special places are struggling to make it through to another year.
If you’ve been ensorcelled by this unique collection of shops and galleries and the remarkable men and women who make them work, please consider them as you draw up your Holiday Shopping List.
Every one of them, every one of them, is struggling.
Consider these businesses, each one singular, from just a portion of Highlands’ Main Street.
Potpourri is the only eyewear store in Highlands. They carry sunglasses to RX frames to all eyewear accessories, and approximately 20 brand name frames like Chanel, Chrome Hearts, and Cartier brand collections. You’ll experience deeply personal customer service.
Main Street Gifts may be the new kid on the block, but this kid is here to make your shopping a pleasure. The warm welcoming space is the perfect backdrop for their gift store which features something for him, her, home and hostess. They strike just the right balance of having something for everyone.
The Book Nook’s Michelle Bears has gathered an irresistible assortment of titles – New York Times Bestsellers, Fiction, Non-Fiction, Books of Local Interest and Classics – that are just right for a quick read or a cozy get-away-from-it-all session.
The Toy Store has been a gotta stop tradition in Highlands for two decades. They carry a little something for everybody from newborns to the big kid in everyone.
Bags on Main carries today’s best brands for him and her, with an emphasis on customer service. And don’t miss Snoozies, a comfy cross between a sock and slipper, with soft soles and a brushed fleece exterior.
Celebrity Collections showcases the best replicated celebrity jewelry available in the marketplace, with new merchandise being added continually. A new collection of designer-inspired and replicated men’s and ladies’ watches have been a spectacular addition to the boutiques repertoire.
Dutchman’s Casual Living Store is a rambling two-story gallery loaded with custom furniture vignettes, fabric swatches and upholstery samples in a full spectrum of colors and textures, kitchen accessories, handmade soaps, beautifully scented candles, gift items, and the unexpected.
The Southern Way is a men’s and women’s southern casual clothing store, located on the heart of Main Street in Highlands. You can count on friendly service and a knowledgeable staff, making for a fun, breezy shopping experience.
The Spice & Tea Exchange, offers a variety of fine spices, handcrafted seasonings, loose-leaf teas, salts, sugars, gifts, and more. This store is known for its over 85 handcrafted seasonings, hand-mixed daily.
Elevation is a local women’s clothing, shoe and accessory boutique. Its hallmark is the warm, exceptional customer service extended by its employees. It’s a marvelously indulgent experience and it makes every visit a delight.
Lulu Bleu presents a fresh collection of daywear, dresses, loungewear and lingerie for women of all ages, shapes, sizes and bank accounts. The selective mix is hand-picked to reflect a true passion for today’s high-quality, sumptuous fabrics such as bamboo, modal and organic cotton while celebrating the pretty side of life.
J.McLaughlin’s distinctive brand has always been more about style than fashion: straightforward, unpretentious, and devoid of the superfluous, which makes it the perfect choice for the Highlands lifestyle.
Shiraz Oriental Rug Gallery has earned a reputation that extends far beyond the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau For several generations the Falasiri family has built that reputation, buying, selling and trading in the international rug market. On their many travels, they have amassed an extraordinary collection of beautiful and interesting treasures from a wealth of experience and knowledge. This is a gallery that demands a careful browse.
Bear Mountain Outfitters has been a Main Street fixture since 1997, providing outdoor gear and expert advice for your entire family, including Fido! They offer a wide variety of women and men’s clothing, apparel and footwear. And Bear Mountain’s footwear section offers a wide variety of styles and colors for your individual needs, including brands from: Merrell, Vibram Five Fingers, Teva, Aetrex Digital Foot Scan System, Toms, Earth Footwear and many more.