Browsing Broad: Town's Main Drag Offers Shops That Sizzle
Broad Street may be Southern Pines’ main thoroughfare but little about it suggest Main Street, USA — a movie theater, yes, but one that serves wine and doubles as an arts venue.
Several coffee shops — none a Dunkin or Starbucks. A grocery store that carries fresh pigs’ ears across from a restaurant with goat cheese rice fritters on the menu. A yoga studio co-exists with a military museum.
The mechanic at Doug’s Auto Center can tune up an old Ford truck, while an agent at McDevitt Sotheby International Real Estate shows a $4 million Pinehurst mansion.
“If we could just keep this town the way it is,” says Linda Levy, proprietor of The Little Toy Shop.
She has a calculator on the counter, but no computer. Salespeople must calculate change the old-fashioned way, by counting up.
More than unusual merchandise sets Broad Street apart: train tracks bisecting the avenue create a boulevard appearance, as planned by founder John T. Patrick in the 1880s. Local groups tend the flowers. Shopkeepers are more friends than rivals. Benches encourage people-watching.
Hopefully, those people are buying the wow merchandise.
Broad Street begins with soul food supplies at Bo’s Supermarket meat department: hog jowls, chicken feet, Neese’s C-Loaf (C for chitterlings), Sassy Souse (containing pork tongues) and liver pudding.
Other cuisines appear at The Sly Fox Pub, where chef Donnie Wicker dries his own ghost chilies — 100 times hotter than vicious habaneros, he says. Farmers in India plant these chilies around crops to ward off elephants. Wicker uses them in curries on days when he’s not making goat burgers seasoned with searing Moroccan harissa.
Hot scarcely describes the back room at Excitement, an adult lingerie and novelties store. Customers must be over 18, with identification, to be buzzed in. This inner sanctum proves how far porn can go.
“We had a really good Christmas season,” says grandmotherly saleswoman Glenda Louk.
The Back Room’s tamest toy is the blow-up Goo Goblin Love Doll, $39.95.
Fudge With Benefits
Debby DiBianca calls the Creation and Antique Tool Museum at the Christian Bookstore “the best-kept secret in Southern Pines.”
Most customers who buy homemade fudge don’t descend into the catacombs to view a taxidermy paradise: deer, wolves, bear, squirrels and snakes galore. Send Stephen King a brochure.
“Creation” isn’t exactly anti-evolution, explains store manager Lynne Creech. “We talk about the Lord creating these animals as related to Scripture.” The museum was mounted by Creech’s brother, the late Pastor Kent Kelly, who collected specimens from all over.
The collection covers parts of three floors below and behind the retail area. School groups make it a field trip. Admission is free with donations requested.
Who would have thought — a mini-Museum of Natural History on Broad Street?
Cool down at S.N.O.B.S. Styles Noblesse, where a weathered wooden 17th century statue of St. Peter from an Italian church goes for $3,600. Admire it from a tufted leather Ralph Lauren chaise, circa Gloria Swanson, for $1,500.
Still on the home beat, the Lyne’s Den offers a leather club chair with nail head trim and bridle bit across the back to equestrians having $2,995. If Tara had indoor plumbing, its shower would be curtained with cascading white cotton ruffles straight off Scarlett’s dress, $140, at Mockingbird.
Decorating the home for slightly less is a tabletop gadget from which to suspend a favorite Christmas tree ball, year-round. Ball and stand, $10 at Art Nutz & Raven Pottery. Color up your metal mailbox with a Curb-a-Peel magnetic cover bearing an initial or flowers, $15.99 at Butterfly Cottage.
Or, personalize walls with a photo of your name on a golf tournament leader board or a UNC basketball jersey. This is accomplished pronto via computer program at The Shops on Broad Street, starting at $50.
Framers’ Cottage has those sweet pussywillow branches that light up, for $29 to $43. Ugly jugs with teeth only an orthodontist could love come in different sizes and prices (most under $100) and degrees of ugliness. All are locally made, as is everything at Seagrove Candle Co. store.
Hidden among the incredibly opulent home goods at Opulence of Southern Pines are practical mother-daughter aprons in a wipe-clean vinyl fabric printed with scenes from a 1950s kitchen, from $22 to $32. The Beauty Apothecary goes one better with the pink cupcake apron seen in “Sex and the City” ($36), with a matching cupcake bath balm that first fizzes, then turns milky ($6.50).
The white water pipe at Tobacco Plus ($70) could be a wedding buffet centerpiece. And if you’re still puzzled by the DaVinci Code, spread a 1,000-piece puzzle depicting the Last Supper on your card table; $15.99 at The Country Bookshop.
Nobody goes hungry on Broad Street.
Begin with freshly squeezed orange juice ($1.75) at the Ice Cream Parlor. Sip coffee from beans roasted on the premises at Java Bean Plantation, located in a tiny 100-year-old house belonging to Southern Pine’s first business owned by a woman — a seamstress, who received customers in her front room. Flynne’s has been replaced by A Cup of Flow, which wisely retained the s’mores latte for $4.25.
Hit Broad Street Bakery & Cafe for a well-timed (January is diet month) lean body sandwich: turkey, sprouts, lettuce, tomato, onions, balsamic vinegar on home-baked bread for $7.50. Divine but not-so-lean are the creamy portobello mushroom soup at Lula’s Cafe and the sweet potato fries at Bell Tree Tavern.
Salad bars may be outdated, but bless Beefeaters for keeping theirs. If you’re going to Southern Prime Steak House, you might as well go for broke with a dry-aged, 16-ounce prime New York strip ($44).
Nothing tops Chef Warren’s for diversity: Carnivores enjoy prosciutto-wrapped kangaroo, while others know that vegetarian/vegan Japanese bento boxes are available on request. Those same vegetarians do pizza at Vito’s Ristorante, where garlic, mushrooms, green peppers, black olives and onions make meat superfluous. Speaking of superfluous, beef bows to char-broiled chicken in Good Day Cafe’s chicken Philly sandwich for $7.99.
Sweet Basil, considering the line outside, rain or shine, must be doing everything right, including a dessert sampler plate: featherlight cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake and others, $6.50. Equestrians return to the barn with Peppermint Horse Snacks, so addictive they’re nicknamed “horse crack,” from Cabin Branch Tack Shop.
The wild card has to be Curt’s Cucina, open since July. Curtis Shelvy grew up Italian in Vermont and Connecticut. He brings homemade gnocchi, tiramisu and his nonna’s tomato gravy (sauce) to an upscale menu, which also includes saltimbocca and piccata. Top off the Broad Street movable feast with champagne truffles from Sweet Charity, at $18 per pound.
Post-holidays, should milady’s clothes feel snug, create a diversion with accessories from Broad Street’s SoHo-esque boutiques.
Morgan Miller starts at skin level with BootTights: a comfy sock attached to silky opaque black tights ($35), also the equally comfy Coobie seamless bra with spaghetti straps, so stretchy that one size fits everybody except Dolly Parton ($22).
At Home/Southern Pines Paper Co. wins the sock hop with Solmate Socks handmade in Vermont from recycled colored cotton. From babies to Big Foot, no two pairs alike, about $18. Don’t hide Solmates under Monkees’ fuchsia Wellingtons (high-top rubber boots, $125), which have their own knee-length liners ($30). Notice the window box outside Monkees filled with giant pansies and ornamental cabbages arranged by Southern Pines artist Sherry Samkus.
Toms are the rage. Only Denker’s Dry Goods has the scrunchy slipper-shoes, now in pink and sparkly black ($57). For every pair purchased, Toms donates a new pair of shoes to children in need.
Boot up in vintage, blister-proof cowboy boots, a specialty at Traveling Chic Boutique. A standout among gently worn boots from the 1970s is a black leather pair tooled with red and white curlicues. You’ll need a size 7 foot and $90. The toes meet the road in Vibrams running shoes with separate toe slots — $100 at River Jack Outdoor Trading Co.
To Joan of Arc, Eve Avery offers jewelry fashioned from wire mesh (think chainmail). One bracelet resembles a fingerless gauntlet. Priced in the hundreds.
The two Fifi’s Resale Shops always have something glitzy. Last week, a customer commented that a strapless skinny evening gown strewn with gold lame polka dots ($42) would look good on Will’s bride, Kate.
Men’s accessories are a bit scarce, except for watches at jewelry stores, the usual T-shirts and unusual ties hand-painted with big bugs at Swank ($30). Sounds creepy, but looks awesome.
Kids rule at Belli Bambini, which wins the wow award, hands down, with Pee-Pee Teepee. These tiny blue terry cloth tents protect Mom from the sprinkler as she changes Junior’s diaper. Get five for $13.25. When the little slugger learns better manners, put him on a Radio Flyer toddlers’ trike, sturdily constructed from wood, metal and rubber with a handlebar bell, $89.95 at The Little Toy Shop.
Green’s the theme at Green Goods, starting with bags made from parachutes squeezed into tiny totes which unfold to carry other wows (like a toy airplane crafted from a soda can) home. Bags, produced by RePete, come mini to duffel size, starting at $13.
Knitters and oenophiles gravitate to the top block of Broad Street; the former for cashmere yarn at Bella Filati, the latter for a wine card at The Wine Cellar and Tasting Room. Load the card to any dollar amount, insert in the self-serve wine bar and out pour fine reds and whites in amounts from a few sips to a full glass. Less elegant, just as popular, the Growler half-gallon brown glass jug ($7.99). Fill it with beer on tap, take home for the bowl game.
“This is just the most wonderful place to shop,” said Anne Andrews, who came from Fayetteville with her girlfriends the week before Christmas.
So kiss our grits, Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive. We’ve got Broad Street.
Contact Deborah Salomon at email@example.com.
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