Wings: Good Deals in the Off Season
Wings and Super Wings are the ubiquitous beach shops found throughout the Outer Banks. With everything from towels and bathing suits, to beach chairs and tacky OBX souvenirs, they have everything you need or may have forgotten for your beach trip. In the summer months, they can be a bit overpriced. Get those last minute beach goods at Walmart before your trip. But in the off-season, everything is 50% off or more. We were in Nags Head over the winter and my wife insisted we stop at Wings. I'm normally not too excited about shopping or spending money on stuff I don't need. But with the deals they were offering, even I was getting excited about shopping. We each got multiple bathing suits, beach hats, and some T-shirts, all for less than $50. And now, we won't need to buy anything for the beach this summer, when the prices jump back up.
What to buy: You can get any beach items in the off-season for 50% off or more, instead of paying full price in the summer.
What to pay: Expensive in the summer, cheap in the winter.
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Tanger Outlet Center: One of Nags Head's Many Malls
Apparently Tanger is a chain of outlet shops. Who knew? All shops in the Tanger complex are open year-round.
What to buy: Pfaltzgraff has dishes, glasses, and knickknacks.
London Fog for coats
Rack Room Shoes .
The Corning/Revere Store is a kitchen supply shop. Nine West shoes and boots.
The Dress Barn has sweaters (dressy, sporty, and casual dressy) for women and tops.
Claire's Accessories hair accessories, jewelry, fashionable clear plastic purses for kids, sunglasses, fuzzy cloth key chain books, and hats.
Leggs Hanes Bali, and
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Shipwreck Museum Inc.: kitsch at the beach
Shipwreck Museum, Inc. a local fixture on the causeway for more than 55 years. It offers driftwood, seashells, jewelry, lamps, local crafts, live hermit crabs (which my brother got two summers in a row in the '80s), and anything imaginable that has a nautical theme.
Chip's Wine Market: But the BrewThru is so easy...
Miles and miles of wine bottles on the left and the "beer wall" which is microbrew city on the right. Too many people get sucked into the travesty that is the BrewThru. While the BrewThru is a clever concept, and hot commodity--if you have any decency in your body, go to Chip's instead. The staff is super helpful in suggesting new beers/wines to try. There are literally hundreds.
What to buy: Build your own 4 and 6 packs. Try Wychwood's Hobgoblin & Dogfish Head's Chicory Stout and/or Midas Touch Golden Elixir. Chip's has all of the classics too: Stella, Magic Hat, Negra Modelo, Harpoon... They also sell snacks and chocolates, yum. While you're perusing the selections, notice that there are little tags marking certain beers that you can try on tap locally, and where to find them.
What to pay: You gotta pay a little extra to get the good stuff, but I have certainly seen more expensive. Plan on spending between $8 and $12 on a six pack.
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Tanger Outlet Centre: Good buys for (largely) tacky rubbish
Tanger is a discount outlet shopping center full of great buys in all kinds of merchandise, from clothes to dishes to shoes. There is the Stone Oven Pizza for when you get hungry. All shops in the Tanger complex are open all year. Pfaltzgraff has dishes, glasses, and whatnots. London Fog is popular with locals and visitors who are looking for coats. The Corning-Revere Store is a kitchen supply shop. I go into this store to get the silver bowls I give out to all my friends as wedding gifts as well as another in Williamsburg. Other familiar stores include Polo/Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Izod, Kitchen Collection, Publishers Warehouse, Wilson Leather Outlet, Vitamin World, Van Heusen, Geoffrey Beene, Bass, Big Dogs, Coach, L'eggs Hanes Bali, and Sunglass Hut. See, such outlets have their place further inland in places that don't normally get a lot of tourists- like Reading, PA or Burlington, NC. A better idea would be to put these outlet malls in old mill towns abandoned after the interstates were built. Outlet malls don't seem to me to be congruent with fun at the beach. Those who find shopping on holiday relaxing will groove on this place and probably disagree strongly with my assessment.
What to buy: They offer just about everything here.
What to pay: What is regarded as a discount at a beach resort isn't the kind of discount you would find further inland. That is, you get plucked, just not quite as badly.
Outer Banks Mall: Outer Banks Mall
The Outer Banks Mall is open year-round. Seamark Foods anchors the centre. The north wing of Outer Banks Mall is mainly geared to food, but there are a few stores, including GNC (a national health food store chain). The south wing has everything else including a wide range of clothing stores, and kitschy nautical souvenir shops. When the Outer Banks Mall first opened in 1984, it was fully enclosed like one would envisage an American shopping mall. Now it is more of an open-air marketplace.
Seamark Foods: A little cheaper alternative
Make no mistake, we're not talking discount groceries at Seamark Foods (a local chain of supermarkets- there is another in nearby Kitty Hawk), but after the sticker shock you get from Tommy's Market in Duck and possibly other smaller stores, you will think it's a discount.
What to buy: They have a meat and seafood room, a deli and bakery, and all manner of food is sold here.
What to pay: Expect to pay more than you would at home (if home is in most inland parts of the USA), but it's cheaper than some specialty grocers.
Surfside Plaza: Surfside Plaza
Surfside Plaza is a small strip mall on the Beach Road (officially Virginia Dare Trail) at milepost 13 on the side opposite the beaches. There is a wide variety of stores from beachwear to everyday clothes to t-shirts, pizza and ice cream. It used to have an even wider range or stores. When I was a kid, for example, there was a toy shop. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, my folks would buy me a t-shirt here every year, and, as a reward for being good while they shopped for other things at more boring locations, I earned an ice cream cone from the shop at this plaza. My favourite flavour back then was cookies and cream.
Christmas Shop and the Island Gallery
If you love all things Christmas you will love this store! 36 rooms of gifts, jewelry, art, souveirs, collectibles, and of course, Christmas! One room is a year round Halloween shop. There is also an old time candy store with nostalgic candy for sale, a turn-of-the-century Victorian dining room, and the gallery that features the work of over 200 artists and craftsmen.
- Family Travel
Everyone must visit this wonderful store. Nautical gifts, coastal decor items, t-shirts, jewlery, candles, wall art, collectibles and much more! Something for everyone here. Five locations.
What to buy: OBX sticker for your car, of course!
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Most of them: 'Ware the tourists
The entire outer banks, while home to quite a few brave souls, is a tourist destination from May to September. There are souvenir shops everywhere. There will be plenty of trinkets available, as well as overpriced merchandise that you can find at home. (rememer, this IS home to quite a few people, so they have to have all the basics as well.)
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Duck Thru Food Store: A North Carolina Food Store Chain
This sounds like it is a drive through grocery store like some WaWas used to be, but I have not been there so I don't know. There seem to be quite a few of these throughout NC (this is store #17)
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