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Hatteras Island is NOT the place to come if Shopping is one of your favorite vacation activities. There are no malls here, no boutiques, no national chains. People go to Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach or Florida for that. This is a National Park, an ocean wilderness. However, people come here for an entire Summer, for a month, or for two weeks. There have to be stores providing supplies, equipment and souvenirs. We have cut through the clutter of Made In China beach outfitters (thongs, floats, chairs and suits) to list the key retailers you'll need during your stay, and the ones selling locally made, found or used souvenirs or gifts you can take home. Remember food and beverage delivery trucks have to come across on ferries and a visit to Hatteras or Ocracoke takes up a whole day for the driver. Remember local artisans have to make a living and anything handmade will be more expensive than something mass produced in China. Also remember these stores have the expenses any other retailer has but they only have a five month season to generate income. So prices must be higher. If you can bring it from home, bring it. But for groceries and other items, here is your island directory...

For many vacationers, coming to Hatteras is a break FROM cooking. They want to eat out every meal, to sample the great seafood from as many restaurants as possible, since they can't get seafood this fresh and prepared this well back home. They also consider cooking a chore, and enjoy a week or two without it. However thousands of others love coming to Hatteras so they can bring fresh seafood home from the docks every afternoon and fix it themselves. Families love the various ways of cooking, whether over an open fire or buried luau on the beach, over a charcoal grille on the patio of their rental house, or in their modern rented kitchen with everyone just returned from fishing, swimming or surfing. For these families, cooking is part of the vacation, not to be missed and looked forward to all year. But they have to get the ingredients.

The Farmers Market is your best stop for fresh vegetables, eggs and meats and they operate on Tuesday mornings 9 - noon so you can stock up for the week soon after arriving here. This is actually a pretty good farmers market, mostly drawing on farms up near Currituck, Moyock and Elizabeth City. They have the expected huge array of vegetables, with a few exotic brands, like Russian Black Tomatoes and Sicilian Squash, thrown in for variety. But they also offer home cured meats and other specialties. The Hatteras Farmers Market operates on the vacant lot adjacent to the Hatteras Realty Office in Avon, along Route 12. A common complaint about farmers markets is that their prices are higher than large supermarkets. Just keep in mind the recent biochemical research documenting that fresh vegetables have 30% higher protein and vitamin content than vegetables picked green and artificially ripened while being shipped here from the West Coast or imported. And it gets worse. Since they pick vegetables green, first they inject them with ripening hormones, then they inject them with antiripening hormones to make sure they don't ripen before they get them on the shelves, then they inject them with artificial coloring. So not only do supermarket vegetableslack the taste, but you're eating all the injected chemicals. That's what you're paying farmers market prices to avoid.

Diamond Shoals Seafood Market operates out of the East end of the restaurant by the same name in Buxton. Service is notoriously slow (press the red button and wait...and wait...and wait...), but the fish is certainly worth waiting for. They stock 17 kinds of fish. Then there's Crab. You can get Steamed Blue, Snow Crab Legs, King Crablegs, Jonah Claw, Jumbo Lump, Crabmeat, and Fresh Handmade Crabcakes. You can get peeled and deveined Jumbo Shrimp, Sea or Bay Scallops, Oysters, Clams, and Mussels. For an extra $3.00 a pound they'll cook it for you right there. And they sell the wines, dressings, spices and dips to go with it. There's everything from Horseradish to Thai Peppers. Many Buxton vacationers stop by every evening on the way home from the beach or drive over as soon as they return from the beach. Diamond Shoals closes at 7 pm. You can call a large order ahead and they'll have it waiting for you. For 2010, they added an Asian touch. You can get Seaweed Salad and Sushi. If you've never tried Sushi, this would be a safe place to start. We like their Tuna Roll (Tuna and Cucumber), Philly Roll (Smoked Salmon, Avocado and Cream Cheese) and Veggie Roll. 252-995-5521.
Risky Business used to have a Buxton location, but in 2008 they closed it and pulled back to this single Avon outlet. The husband runs the fishing boat while the wife tends this well stocked market. You get all the expected favorites here : Mahi (Dolphin, not the porpoise), Spanish Mackeral, Flounder, Wahoo, Red Snapper, Cobia, Tilefish, Yellowfin Tuna, Blue, Grouper, Salmon, Shark, and Drum. You can also get Crab, Bay Scallops, Clams, Oysters, and Shrimp. They also carry various sides and dressings and can advise you on how to fix whatever kind of fish you're buying. Tilefish is the one few mainlanders have ever heard of but more and more are trying and loving.

Connors Market is Buxton's own local grocery. Like everything else, it faces Route 12, half a mile west of the National Park entrance. Connors is not a chain, but it is very well stocked. They don't have the gourmet aisles you might enjoy back at home at a Krogers or Giant Eagle, but they have everything you'll need to prepare a good meal, including fish and meats. They get very crowded the last half of Sunday and Monday morning, so try to avoid those periods. If you're staying in Buxton or on down the island, Connors is obviously a closer alternative to Food Lion. Like any large market, they also have aisles of basic hardware, beach supplies, and magazines and newspapers. There's a small wine selection. Parking can be a problem at peak times, as can getting on and off Route 12.

Food Lion  
Ace Hardware is one of the few chains out here, but it's well stocked and well run. Since there's no Home Depot, Lowe's or other competition, they're the only stop on the island for tools and small items like nuts, bolts, screws, hooks, batteries, rope, etc. However, they're also the favorite stop for beach chairs, porch chairs, floatables, and carts and wagons for hauling your stuff to the beach and back every day. Ace Hardware is located at the other end of the Food Lion parking lot, just across from the movie theatre, on Route 12, close to the Southern edge of Avon.
The Red Drum is the island's oldest and best fishing center. This is where you come for any kind of bait, fishing tackle, and anything else related to fishing off the beach, the point, inshore or offshore. They also have tide charts. You can get advice here on anything from where the fish are currently biting to what bait is currently working. This also serves as a community center for the latest news on beach closings and other national park issues. The staff has been living and working here for a very long time and they know every aspect of fishing on and around Hatteras Island. Part of the Red Drum complex, off the photo to the left, are a convenience store, gas station and repair bay. The Red Drum is at the corner of Old Lighthouse Road and Route 12, across from Dillons Corner.
Dillon's Corner is just inside the bend as you enter Buxton. They're probably most famous for selling hermit crabs and hosting Thursday hermit crab races. But they've also got the island's best selection of t shirts, signs, posters and other mementos. And upstairs they have a legitimate gift shop with everything from Christmas decorations to paintings and knick knacks. For most families, a stop at Dillon's is a part of every year's vacation.
Kitty Hawk Kites started out as a kite specialty outlet, with every kind of kite imaginable, from simple beginner models to very sophisticated models requiring two hands on different controls. They even offer kite flying lessons down on the beach. However, they've expanded over the years, and now carry clothing, toys, games and puzzles. They even rent water sport equipment such as kayaks from their dock out back. This is a great place for Dad and Son to escape to while Mom and Daughter spend half an hour in The Farmer's Daughter. Kitty Hawk Kites is most famous for its various yard ornaments, a whole world of spinning, flapping, flying devices featuring cows, pigs, biplanes, trains, racecars, bugs, and fish. Much of this menagerie is displayed out on the lawn, welcoming you to Avon with a burst of color and motion. Take some of these, especially their famous flying cow, back home to your yard and you'll have everyone in town laughing or at least talking about it.
We don't have The Gap, Old Navy or Arbercrombie & Fitch out here. In their place, we have The Farmer's Daughter, right across Route 12 from Kitty Hawk Kites, just on your left as you enter Avon from the North. This is primarily a hip 20/30 something boutique. They carry clothing with a few other odds and ends. The owner has good taste and girls and women can get some good buys here. There's obviously a lot of beach and Summer Vacation clothing, but there are also timeless items you can wear back or use at home or back to school this Fall.
Natural Art Surf Shop is on Route 12 across the road up the hill from Connors. For 40 years it has been the best surf shop on the island, not surprising since it is run by a lifetime surfer who started out selling boards he made himself but to keep up with demand expanded to stock boards from major manufacturers. This is also your best source for high end bodyboards and specialized surf equipment other than boards. You can get surfing posters, magazines and clothing here. You can also get surfboards and bodyboards repaired or restored here. If you're an experienced surfer or bodyboarder but new to the island, this is the place to come for advice on conditions and advice.
The Scotch Bonnet is the Seashell center of the island. Of course you will want to find your own out on the beaches. But if they're a bit sparse during your stay, or if you want to take some spectacular examples of more exotic shells home, this is the place to buy them. As you can see by the photo top right, they have everything organized into rows and compartments. If everything weren't for sale, this could serve as a Shell Museum. In addition to shells, they stock an interesting variety of North Carolina food items, and there's even an ice cream counter. Most longtime Hatteras visitors include a stop here as part of their vacation routine. It's on the sound side of Route 12 between Buxton and Frisco.
Indiantown Gallery is the island's finest collection of local art, meaning paintings and other work created either on the island or within the state of North Carolina. Located in Frisco along Route 12, the gallery has long been a source of the seascapes, Lighthouse paintings and other artwork which Hatteras lovers hang back home to remind them of their annual Summer getaway.
The Christmas Shop is open again. For half a century Hatteras vacationers considered an annual stop at The Christmas Shop one of the most important parts of their trip. All over the nation, families have tree, mantle and wall decorations they accumulated one per year at this unique outlet. Then in 2005 owners Edward Greene and Richard LaCeree decided to retire. For four years people talked about how much they missed it. Finally, someone organized a petition and got several thousand signatures. The Manteo town council summoned the two owners and asked that they reopen. Greene, 83, said he and LaCeree, 63, had not sold the property, and although they enjoyed their free time, they really missed working in a year round Christmas environment. "We just love Christmas," he said, "and truth is, we missed all the people, too." So now they're back, bigger and better than ever.
This is no small operation. Over their half century of business they kept adding on until now the complex includes 11 buildings totalling 25,000 square feet. It is divided into rooms with a general theme, such as the Nutcracker Room at right. It's hard to believe it all started as an art gallery, but today, lost in all the Christmas rooms, are still three large rooms and two large hallways containing the finest gallery of Outer Banks paintings in existence. The secret to the long success of Greene and Laceree is that they both have exquisite taste. They don't stock items they wouldn't display in their own homes.
Atlantic Rentals offers an alternative to purchasing. Rather than buy items and haul them back and forth from home, just rent them while you're here. They rent everything from bikes to surfboards to beach chairs to carts. The list of what they rent goes on for two pages. Their rates are reasonable and they maintain their equipment in good shape. Atlantic Rentals is on Route 12 in the center of Avon, right across from the Outer Beaches Rental Office.
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