Shopping! When the shopping itch would hit, hardcore shoppers used to have to hit the road to get any satisfaction. Not anymore, thanks to an ever-growing number of shopportunities around the Charlottesville area. Whether you prefer chic boutiques, thrifty finds, or a big-box bonanza, all you need is your wallet and an urge to spend.
The Corner: Not just for fashion-fearless undergrads, The Corner offers serious Charlottesville shoppers a respite from faceless brands and bland store fronts. While most of the shopping trends towards chick-wear, there's something for all Cavaliers at stores like Mincers (434-296-5687) and the Student Book Store (434-293-5900). Athletes of all genres must stop by Ragged Mountain Running Shop (434-293-3367) to get their stride checked by a member of the Lorenzoni family, (Mark and Cynthia have owned the store since 1982) or snag comfortable and functional workout gear for all occasions. Shopping for that unique, one-of-a-kind Foxfield dress? A stop at Finch (434-244-0050), Duo (434-979-1212), or Jack Wills is likely to turn up a preppy, glamorous, or quirky outfit suitable for dinner out or a sorority function!
Downtown Mall: Even with the introduction of a few chains (Urban Outfitters, The Melting Pot), the Downtown Mall and surrounding streets can't be beat if you're seeking locally owned boutiques where you'll find clothes of all kind, gifts, and art. O'Suzannah (979-7467) is a perennial favorite for gifty knick-knacks; Rock Paper Scissors (979-6366) and Caspari (293-0623) offer high-end stationery and paper goods. New Dominion Bookshop ( 295-2552) offers bookworms hours of happy browsing, as do several used book stores up and down the Mall and on sidestreets. Since it relocated to the Mall from a few blocks away, Bittersweet (977-5977) has been a tempting addition to the Mall's women's clothing offerings with styles suitable for a range of ages and tastes. Also recently moved onto the Mall proper: Jean Theory (296-JEAN), the place for high-end jeans as well as new and used dresses, tops, skirts, shoes, and accessories. Gorgeous but pricey undergarments tempt passersby from the windows of Derriere de Soie (977-7455), while comfortable, stylish, and retro shoes (think Miz Mooz and Camper) call out from the shoe side of the Boutique Boutique clothing store (293-8400). Men can find their own styles at the Young Men's Shop (975-3131), where, apparently, men are always considered young, no matter their actual age (magic, that, eh?). The truly young can get outfitted in high style at Petit Bébé (244-9400), and find the perfect birthday present at Alakazam (971-1717). Tuckered out from all the shopping? Make your bed a sanctuary with bajillion thread-count sheets from Palais Royal (979-1581)– and pay attention for notice of their great sales.
Barracks Road Shopping Center: While known more for its eateries and groceries, Barracks boasts an ever-growing cache of boutiques and mainstream shopping. Major draws for women include Anthropologie (434-295-1749), Francesca's Collections (434-296-9556), and White House Black Market (434-293-6448), while the old favorites are still Talbots (434-296-3580), LOFT (434-295-3232), and Scarpa (434-296-0040). Adventure-seekers and outdoorsy types can revel in Blue Ridge Mountain Sports (434-977-4400). Men looking to spruce up their wardrobe can hit up the dependable Joseph A. Banks (434-244-0015) or splurge at Beecroft & Bull (434-977-9010). Both genders will find something fashionable at Banana Republic (434-872-9393) or Old Navy (434-984-0167). Looking for jewelry? Fink's (434-284-4060), Lynne Goldman Studio (434-977-9644) or Penelope (434-977-5811) have all your hand, neck, and ear needs. If you're in the mood to shop, but not for apparel, Barracks has your knick-knackery or furnishing cravings covered– Bed Bath & Beyond (434-971-3098), Plow and Hearth (434-977-3707), The Happy Cook (434-977-2665), The Virginia Shop (434-977-0080), Michael's (434-971-1087)– oh my! And, to top it all off, a swing by Barnes and Noble (434-984-0461) is nearly required if you're in the vicinity of Route 29 North. Anyone who equates Barracks Road merely with Harris Teeter and Chipotle is seriously missing out.
Seminole Square: This shopping center got a big family boost from the recent opening of kiddie wonderland Bounce n' Play in 2010, but for a retail fix, it's best known as home to Marshall's (974-9375), Big Lots (975-6440), Office Depot (975-1000), and a Giant food store. It's also adjacent to the Seminole Regal 4 movie theater. It should be noted for those who haven't visited recently (or ever) that Marshall's expanded its shoe section within the last few years and now offers a huge selection, much of it at clearance prices. Smaller shops at Seminole include the Party Starts Here (973-7359), and not one but two bike stores, Downtown Athletic (975-3696) and its offshoot, Total Soccer (220-2460).
Charlottesville Fashion Square: Okay. Seriously, what doesn't Fashion Square Mall have? As the largest mall in the region– the next best thing is the substantially larger Short Pump outside Richmond– Fashion Square houses a bulk of big-name shops to which students and Cvillians alike flock. There are your basics: American Eagle Outfitters (434-973-0144), Gap (434-973-9636), J.Crew (434-975-2889), and Eddie Bauer (434-973-8695). For women, Ann Taylor (434-975-2300), Cache, Claire's (434-973-1261), Coach (434-964-4693), Express, New York & Company (434-973-7019), Victoria's Secret (434-978-3771), and Wet Seal (434-973-8721) are all housed in Fashion Square. And for those who just like department store shopping, Sears (434-974-8200), JCPenney (434-973-7851), and Belk (434-973-7878) hold down the fort.
Rio Hill: Perhaps the most manly of all Charlottesville's shopping centers, Rio Hill offers local electronics hotspot Crutchfield (817-1100), and Dick's Sporting Goods (974-5640). Second hand gear store, Play it Again Sports (973-2638), has moved across the Route 29 to a new location. Then there's Lowe's (975-7140) just across the way (although not in the shopping center proper.) In addition to a Kroger grocery store and several eateries, Rio Hill is also a good place for discount clothing prospects for men, women, and children: Rugged Wearhouse, Rack Room Shoes (974-7303), Payless Shoes (973-0389), and TJ Maxx (974-7410) are there, as is hipster thrift store Plato's Closet (977-4722), where they guarantee none of their brand name duds are older than a year or two (but where shoppers over the age of 30 may feel woefully old.)
Hollymead Town Center: Its official name may be the Hollymead Town Center, but you'll get directions there much faster if you just mention its largest tenant: Target (Yeah, yeah, Tar-JHAY for you budget conscious snoots) (964-1231). Located three miles north of Walmart on 29N, Target–- as everyone well knows–- is a shopping mecca of sorts for students, hipsters, and anyone else who loves the wide aisles, color-coordinated displays, unique-to-the-store designer brands (Isaac Mizrahi and Converse, for instance) and endless array of affordable gifts, home accessories, toys, clothes and even organic food.
Making Hollymead even more of a menace to your money is last year's arrival of Kohl's, another bargain store that inspires similar enthusiasm and loyalty. Rounding out Hollymead is Harris-Teeter (872-009) and a variety food and retail chains– Bonefish Grill, TGI Fridays, and Panera Bread are among the dining options, and kids will cry (or, perhaps more accurately, whine and scream) for a quick trip into one of used and new video game emporium Game Stop's multiple locations (973-5981). And for your four-legged or feathered friends, Pet Smart (964-9213) has plenty of food, toys, and bedding.
West of town: Shopping's scattered as you head west, but if you're taking the scenic ride out 250 toward Crozet, there are a few places to stop and shop along the way including Kenny Ball Antiques, the Ivy Nursery and Savvy Rest. In warm weather, we've found a funky little antiques store on top of Afton Mountain.
Looking for antiques or consignment? Charlottesville has tons of places to rummage for vintage or low-cost finds. If you have a few hours to spare or are just looking for that perfectly classic piece to complete your (or your home's) look, these are the shops for you: Downtown– Circa Inc (434-295-5760), Oyster House Antiques (434-295-4757), Rosewood Antiques (434-977-5008), Antics Vintage Clothing (434-293-9082). Ivy Road– Joseph Joseph Joseph Antiques (434-970-7998), And George (434-244-2800), House of Jacobus Antiques (434-977-0024). Route 29– Harlowe-Powell Auction Ltd (434-293-2904).
COMING SOON: As if all this shopping weren't bountiful enough, this year will bring the opening of The Shops at Stonefield, the long-awaited and massive retail development at the corner of Emmet and Hydraulic. Among the much-anticipated arrivals: a Regal cinema, which will include Imax and stadium seating, Trader Joe's grocery, and such restaurants as Osaka Sushi, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Café Caturra, and Burton's Grill.