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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Weekend Topic: Shopping

In the weekend topics "series", I've already covered outdoor activities, music, weather, food, transportation, cheap entertainment options, and sports. As some of you are heading out to the stores to find that perfect present for mom (you do know what day it is tomorrow, yes?), I thought I'd cover the suggested topic of shopping.

First, some background: I'm a "city kid". Prior to arriving in Charlottesville, I only lived in major metropolitan areas. Coming to Charlottesville, I imagined the shopping options of a small city being limited and thought I'd be driving to Richmond and Northern Virginia fairly often on the weekends. What I learned is that Charlottesville has everything I need, but might not have a range of options, which turns out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise. Before, I'd race all over my city, investigating all the options available before settling on a purchase. Buying even simple things could take weeks. Here, there are still multiple options for things, but still not as many as in a large city, which saves a lot of time and energy when shopping.

So, let's start with an overview of Charlottesville's shopping districts: The Corner (by UVa), the Downtown Mall (covered in a previous weekend topic), and Emmet Street/Route 29.

The Corner
The Corner covers about six blocks along University Avenue, which runs alongside Grounds, and a few side streets. Among the cafes and restaurants are bookstores and boutiques. A few of the cafes, a deli and a pizza place come to mind, stay open late at night, so there's activity on The Corner at all hours.

Emmet Street/Route 29
Emmet Street is a major road that has some University buildings on it (John Paul Jones Arena, Lambeth Field Apartments), but it's mostly known for being the road that has all the big, chain stores that each city seems to have. Students seem to do a lot of shopping at Barracks Road Shopping Center, which is on the UVa bus route and a pretty short walk from Lambeth. Around Barracks Road, Emmet turns into more of a highway than a road. Further up, you'll find lots of "big box" type stores (Best Buy, discount stores like TJ Max, Lowes, Target, etc). The #7 Charlottesville goes up and down Route 29 (the UVa bus doesn't go higher than Barracks Road).

The two closest outlet centers currently are in Northern Virginia (Leesburg) and Williamsburg. I heard recently that a new outlet center along the same lines as those two is being planned for Zions Crossroads, which is about 20-25 minutes east on Route 64.

What have a missed? What questions do you have about shopping?