Shopping on the Outer Banks

By Beth P. Storie

We all know the national pastime isn't really baseball, right? It's shopping, with a capital S.

It's the thrill of the hunt. It's bringing the bounty home. It's landing a bargain. It's indulgence ... and it's just plain fun. Outer Banks shopping is right up there with the best of areas. In fact, we even laugh that Duck is our own local Rodeo Drive. And, while some areas have a reputation as a shopper's mecca - Ocracoke, Corolla, the aforementioned Duck and Nags Head following close behind - all the towns here have plenty to please even the most skilled shoppers in pursuit of a purchase.

As with Outer Banks dining, Outer Banks shopping is surprisingly varied. You'll enjoy high-end art galleries featuring the watercolors, oils and other medias of local and national artists. On the opposite end, if you want the kitschiest of souvenirs, that's here too. Clothing stores feature bathing suits, casual sportswear, formal dresses and suits, all the current surf shop styles, high style or easy style. If you lose your suitcase, no worries, you're set - all the necessities and essentials can be found here.

Want to prepare a fresh seafood dinner at home tonight? Choose a locally owned seafood market to purchase fresh Outer Banks seafood and marinades, and then stop off at a specialty wine shop for a bottle to make the evening complete. Set your sights on antiques, fishing tackle, books, watersports equipment, home décor items, hammocks, handmade jewelry, gifts with an historic theme, nautically inspired selections - whew, you'll be out all day and not begin to indulge your shopping jones.

No Homogeneous Outer Banks Shopping 

Shopping here is, for the most part, a far cry from shopping in a mall or in a superstore where homogeny rules. The boutiques and specialty shops found throughout the towns are unique and individually owned, and each reflects the personality of its owners. The amount of national chain stores on the Outer Banks is growing, especially in Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head, but they’re still in the minority compared to the independently owned shops

Remember that on rainy days, every Outer Banks vacationer will be out there shopping with you. So, if you're an aficionado, you might want to take some time away from the beach to have a more leisurely experience in our shops.

About the Author Beth P. Storie
Beth Storie first came to the Outer Banks for the summer of 1976. She fell in love with the area and returned for good three years later. She and her husband published the national guidebook series, The Insiders' Guides, for more than 20 years and now are building OneBoat guides into another national brand. After spending time in many dozens of cities around the country, she absolutely believes that her hometown of Manteo is the best place on earth, especially when her two children, six cats and one dog are there too.