downtowngreenvillegirl











(Or…Movies, Market, Men in High Heels, Painting the Town Red & Lots of Rubber Duckies…)

May has to be one of my favorite times to be in Downtown Greenville. The near-perfect beauty of Downtown’s bright green foliage, & brick red buildings silhouetted against the Carolina blue sky is enough to take my breath away! Add to that, the increasingly pleasant temps and the also-increasing number of great events going on, and you have more fun than should be legal! Too much fun, in fact, for just one blog! This week’s “Part 1” contains tidbits about Moonlight Movies, The Saturday Market, a Men’s High Heel Race, an invitation to paint the town Red…and a whole lot of cute little rubber duckies!

Fans of classic movies anxiously await Moonlight Movies. This free, city-sponsored event allows movies fans to view the classics outdoors in the splendid beauty of Falls Park. Shown each Wednesday (weather permitting) starting at 8-ish in the evening, this family-friendly event takes place every May and September. This year’s theatrical line-up includes the 1953 drama, “From Here to Eternity”, starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr (May 1), John Ford’s 1956 western, “The Searchers”, starring John Wayne (May 8), the 1938 Cukor comedy, “Holiday”, starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant (May 15) and the delightfully quirky “Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein” (May 22). The movie for May 29 is a Viewer’s Choice, where the movie garnering the most fan votes will be shown. The choices are “To Catch a Thief”, “On The Waterfront” and “Philadelphia Story”. Lawn chairs, blankets and picnics are welcome, but like most city-sponsored events, pets are not allowed. For more information, visit http://www.greenvillesc.gov.

Let Kentucky keep their thoroughbred racing horses, we’ve got cute ‘lil rubber duckies! This most beloved of Downtown’s annual events, the Reedy River Duck Derby, takes place Saturday, May 4th at Reedy River Falls Park and benefits the many local charities assisted by the Rotary Club of Greenville. An all-day event (10AM – 4PM), the fun includes plenty of kid-friendly activities for families. The highlight, of course, is the race itself, which starts at 2:30PM, with participants battling for an array of fabulous prizes. A mere $10 will purchase a certified racing duck to enter in the race (MUCH less expensive than a high-strung thoroughbred horse), or you can purchase a “Quack Pack” for $30 and receive 4 ducks for the price of 3 (all to better your chances of victory). Prior to the official duck race, the Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District will conduct its own race of “Yucky Duckies” to promote clean water. If you would like to purchase a duck for the race or wish to find out more about this event, visit: http://www.reedyriverduckderby.com.

One of the most anticipated openings in Downtown Greenville is the start of The Saturday Market. Visitors and locals alike are invited to take a morning stroll on Main Street (at Court Street) every Saturday from May to October to experience the delectable sights, sounds, scents and flavors of this favorite Downtown tradition. The 2013 market season starts up again this Saturday, May 4, from 8AM until noon. Featuring the finest in fresh local produce, beautiful crafts by area artisans and live music by some of the region’s best talent, The Saturday Market is family friendly fun for all! For more information and a calendar of weekly events, visit http://saturdaymarketlive.com.

The next event is also one of Greenville’s favorite May events – The Red Party. Each year, AID Upstate invites others to “Dine With Friends” as part of their annual fundraising and Aids Awareness campaign. After having dinner with your pals, participants are invited to The Red Party to enjoy drinks at the cash bar and free desserts. Everyone is welcome to come and “Dance Your Face Off” at this year’s Silver Jubilee soiree at ZEN Greenville on Saturday, May 4th. The festivities will start up at 9PM and last until midnight! There is no need to purchase advance tickets, but a $25 donation is required (and greatly appreciated) at the door. Funds raised will provide supportive services to those Upstate families affected by HIV/AIDS. For more information on The Red Party, AID Upstate or to participate in “Dining With Friends” visit https://www.facebook.com/TheRedParty.

Women in high heels…fashionably elegant …Men in high heels…side-splitting hilarity! See how the “other half” lives or just come get your chuckles – all for a great cause – at the 2nd Annual Men’s High Heel Race on Sunday, May 5. The stillettoed, testosterone-fueled masses will meet up at Ford’s Oyster House and Cajun Kitchen at 9AM, before making the mad “diva dash” down Main Street, in a riotous competition for some really cool prizes! All proceeds benefit Juvenile Diabetes Research (JDRF) in the Western Carolinas. Want to don your best pair of pumps and take part? Registration is going on now (through Friday, May 3) for a participation fee of $25. Participants will be treated to post-run brunch at Ford’s where they can kick off their heels and rest their tired tootsies! For more information, or to register for the race, visit https://www.facebook.com/MensHighHeelRaceGreenvilleSc.

So there you have it Downtownies…a virtual plethora of May happenings. Check next week’s blog for “Part Two” of this article. Until then, have fun, be safe and see you Downtown! Now, if I could only find a tiny jockey to ride my Duck Derby entry, I’d be set!

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When February 14th rolls around, it is only natural for one’s thoughts to turn to love. Whether you are starting a new relationship or have been together for decades, nothing brings out the “sappy romantic” quite like Valentine’s Day. If you want to make this year’s “Day of Love” something your sweetheart will remember for years to come, then Downtown Greenville is the place to start!

What girl (or guy for that matter) doesn’t love to receive some beautiful flowers or something sweet on this most romantic of holidays? If you have found that you have somehow forgotten to pick up something for your significant other the morning of the 14th, Urban Petals can help you resolve that matter. With a “Pop-Up Flower Shop”, which will be located at Port City Java (11 S. Main St) Thursday morning, suitors can purchase hand-tied bouquets of gorgeous, fresh flowers for their Valentines. From a “Best Buds” bud vase for $15 to a breath-taking arrangement of one dozen flawless red roses for $75, there is something for every price point and budget. Don’t procrastinate – Urban Petals will only be at Port City Java from 8AM until 1PM (or until the flowers run out). So get there early, grab a morning cup of coffee and pick some pretty posies sure to keep you out of the “doghouse”!

If your loved one has a sweet tooth, then head down South Main Street to Augusta Street and stop by Coffee To A Tea for a treat as sweet as your beloved. With savory pastries, delectable cupcakes and cookies, not to mention beautifully decorated , decadent cakes that are almost (notice I said ALMOST) to pretty to eat, this cozy little bakery and coffee shop has something for every taste. Leave your calorie counter at the door and indulge in the delicious “yumminess” available here! A dessert from Coffee To A Tea will definitely put you and your dear one in the mood for love!

You can never go wrong with a special evening that includes fine dining…especially on Valentine’s Day. Several Downtown restaurants are preparing special Valentines menus just for couples to enjoy. High Cotton invites you to join them for an evening of dining and music. The culinary staff at this wonderful eatery is preparing a special fixed price menu of 3 delicious courses for $65 per person. Start your dining experience with Charleston She-Crab Soup or Gulf Oysters on the Half Shell, then follow up with Lobster –encrusted Filet Mignon or North Carolina Duck Breast…YUM! Dessert offers such tempting choices as Dark Chocolate Terrine and Salted Pretzel Crème Carmel…to enjoy while listening to the cool tunes of the Sonny Thornton Quartet, featuring guest songstress, Sharon Lamontte. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 335-4200.

Not to be outdone, Devereaux’s Chef Spencer is creating a special 5-course “Chef’s Tasting Menu” certain to please the one you love. This delight for the taste buds includes such choices as Palmetto Quail and Rare Seared Tuna…along with suggested wine pairings. For dessert, enjoy the ultimate in chocolate decadence, a “Chocolate Trio” of Brownie, Milk Chocolate Caramel, and White Chocolate all in a sinfully good Parfait. For more information and to make the required reservations, call 241-3030.

Soby’s New South Cuisine can always be relied on to provide culinary excellence. Chef Shaun is offering his seasonal menu with a few Valentine Features such as Panko Fried Extra Select Oysters, Grilled Aged Ribeye and Pan-Seared Scallops. For the perfect finish to a perfect meal, try their “Romantic Ending for Two” – Chocolate and Red Velvet Cake with fresh raspberries, white chocolate mousse and chocolate dipped strawberries. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made by calling 232-7007.

For something a little more exotic, but no less romantic, plan to spend your evening at The Lazy Goat. Chef Vicky’s list of Valentine’s Day features were definitely created with lovers in mind. From the luxurious “Oysters & Pearls” (Kumomotos, Caviar, Champagne and Pink Peppercorn Mignonette, Blibis and Crème Fraiche), decadent Smokey Cocoa Seared Duck Breast (with Minted Cous Cous, Pine Nuts, Chick Peas, Braised Green & Cherry Demi), not to mention a lavish dessert of Dark Truffle and Raspberry Truffle Tart, will arouse feelings of “l’amour” in no time! For reservations, call 679-5299.

Few things are more romantic than beautiful music. And few musical instruments can inspire such gentle feelings of love as the piano. Greenville’s premiere concert pianist, Emile Pandolfi, will be giving a special Valentine’s performance at The Greenville Little Theatre at 8PM on the 14th. A pre-performance reception will be held starting at 6:45PM. Tickets are available for $40 online and can be obtained through http://www.greenvillelittletheatre.org.

All this fine dining and romance may make you and your Valentine decide to truly make a night of it. Why not be a “tourist” in your own hometown and book a room at the historic Westin Poinsett. Their wonderful Spa Package offers a room for $349 a night for two (or $249 a night for one, if you want to give your significant other some “quality time” alone) and includes a One-Hour Customized Therapeutic Massage in their River Falls Spa. Some restrictions apply and advance reservations are required. Find out more at http://www.westinpoinsettgreenville.com.

Plato once said “At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet.” Well, in your case, maybe not a poet, but all this romance may bring out the creative genius in you and may put you in the mood to paint a masterpiece or inspire a culinary creation of your own. Sassy Paints is offering art classes in a romantic theme with their recreation of “Out Tree” Reservations are required and rates and other information are available at http://www.sassypaints.com. For the infatuated foodies among us, Charleston Cooks is offering a Couples Cooking Class on February 13th. For more information, call 335-2000. Or you may just want to stroll down Main Street, holding hands and checking out all the cool art galleries, shops and sites our fair city has to offer. However you decide to celebrate, LOVE is definitely in the air in Downtown Greenville!



The Holidays seem to bring out the best in most folks. Whether you are dropping a few dollars into a Red Kettle, providing gifts for children who are less fortunate or gathering canned goods for our local food pantries, this time of year makes many of us dig a little deeper to help our fellow humans. Combine that sense of charitable giving with some of our great local music, and the combination would make even the “Grinchiest” heart grow three sizes!

The Handlebar has long donated its Listening Room for some of the best fundraising concerts in town, and December is no exception! This Friday, December 14th, join the guys from Outshyne as they throw a Dixie-Fried Country Christmas Bash to benefit the Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots. Joined by friends and fellow do-gooders, The Smith Outfit, Josh Owens & Anna Leigh, this rockin’ Holiday happening is sure to get your toes to tappin’ & your rump to shakin’! Tickets are $11 in advance and $13 the day of the show (a $2 surcharge is added for those under 21) and the music is set to start at 9PM. Collection bins for toy donations will also be positioned throughout the venue.

For more than a decade, Greenville’s favorite jam band (and all-around nice guys), The Work, has been hosting their annual concert to benefit local charities. This year’s event, The Work’s 11th Annual Christmas Jam, will take place on Friday, December 21st at The Handlebar. Joined by such local talent as Acoustic Syndicate, Yo’ Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Millifungus, The Bad Popes, Doug Jones & more, many consider this event to be THE Holiday Party of the year! The guys will be onstage at 7PM and play in a big ‘ol jam session until they decide it’s time to stop. This year, the American Red Cross will benefit from proceeds of this concert, to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy and other disasters. Tickets are on sale now for $15 and will be $18 the day of the show. For more information on this and other concerts at The Handlebar, visit www.handlebar-online.com.

On Wednesday, December 19th, local acoustic artist, Kylie Hinze will be performing her annual concert to benefit The Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home. Taking place at The Channel, this evening of Holiday music will also feature a silent auction & a visit from Santa.  With special musical guests, 4th Shade Avenue (from Simpsonville), Kylie will take the stage at 7PM until 9PM. A donation of $5 is requested as admission at the door. For more information, visit www.thechannelonline.org.

Downtown Greenville comes alive with music and good will every Holiday season! Take time to enjoy these and other wonderful events that take place in our fair city. I’d be willing to bet you will come away from these celebrations with the “strength of 10 Grinches…plus two!” Happy Holidays, Y’all!

More Downtown Businesses That Are Giving Back in Unique Ways…

  • Traveling Chic Boutique – Collects in-store donations for such local charities as Safe Harbor, Cancer Society of Greenville County, Greenville Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House, Meals on Wheels & Loaves & Fishes.
  • 864toGo.com – Donating a portion of their December food sales to The Special Olympics.
  • Subway – Participating restaurants are hosting Salvation Army Angel Trees to collect toys & clothing for children who would not otherwise receive gifts.
  • Red Ribbon ReSale Shop – With an eclectic assortment of items, this resale store benefits the many programs of AID Upstate, which offers support and information for those battling HIV/AIDS.
  • Safe Harbor ReSale Store – Featuring mostly gently used, upscale clothing, proceeds from this resale shop supports programs that aid victims of domestic violence.
  • Soby’s – Their Thursday Guest Bartender Happy Hour, from 5-7PM weekly, donates 20% of proceeds to area charities.
  • The Barkery Bistro – Supports local animal shelters and rescue groups with their monthly Yappy Hour events.
  • Coffee Underground – This cornerstone of Downtown’s caffeinated community supports several local charities through donations and fundraisers.


I don’t know about you, but when the temps turn chilly, my thoughts turn TO chili…the kind with lots of meat & beans! Every region thinks they have the best chili cooks in the country. Now, I may be biased, but I think it’s hard to beat the chili-making talent found right here in lil ‘ol G’Vegas! This Saturday, The Handlebar (304 E. Stone Avenue) will showcase the very best Greenville has to offer in its 5th Sometimes Annual Chili Cook-Off.

This most beloved of Downtown’s music venues has long been bringing the heat in the form of blazing guitar riffs, heated drum solos & steamy vocals. But, this Saturday, November 17th, they will be bringing the heat of the culinary kind…full of cayenne, curry and a few other ingredients I’m not allowed to disclose at this time. Starting at 4PM, some of the best chili chefs in the area will be going head-to-head in a gastronomical cage match (okay, so there’s ACTUALLY no cage, but the competition still pretty heated). And there will be no culinary school trained judges for THIS event of the people!!! No sir…The Handlebar invites YOU to be the judge of who is the BEST chili chef in Greenville. For $10, guests will receive a ballot, a bowl to sample all the meaty, beanie, chili goodness AND a beer to wash it all down with. Be one of the first 100 to sign up & you get to keep your pint glass…how cool is that!

But wait…there’s more! Not only will you get to make your taste buds sing (or cry for mercy) with all this delectable chili excellence, but The Handlebar will be providing the amazing live, local music they are famous for! Feed your inner music lover with tunes by Wasted Wine, Tim TV, Our World Festival, Darby Wilcox & Zumba! Best of all…it’s FREE!

For those who wish to get a little Christmas shopping done while they fill their senses & stomachs with musical & culinary goodness…well, The Handlebar can help you there too! Starting at 11AM (until 4PM), Outside Arts SC will exhibit works by some of the area’s coolest and most innovative artisans in the 2012 Holiday Market. Benefitting the Greenville chapter of Meals on Wheels, this event allows you to meet these talented artists in an intimate setting, enjoy a unique shopping experience and take home some special one of a kind gifts for everyone  on your list.

So come on out to The Handlebar this Saturday for some tasty food, hot tunes & one-of-a-kind crafts…you’ll be glad you did!

For more information, visit:

The Handlebar: www.handlebar-online.com

Outside Arts SC: http://www.outsideartssc.com



It’s October, the time of year when bewitching sirens prowl our charming town to cast their spells to make all that is mundane vanish!  No, I’m not talking about witches invading Greenville…I’m talking about Fashion on the Town! Although, the way it is all pulled together is almost magical!

A perfect mix of shopping & socializing, Fashion on the Town invites local fashionistas to break from their mundane, mid-week routine to join their style-savvy sisters for an after-hours retail crawl of local boutiques. This year’s event promises DOUBLE the excitement, with festivities starting up at a VIP Party on Wednesday, October 3, from 6-9PM at The Lazy Goat. Tickets for this event are $50 a person or $80 a couple. The fashion crawl takes place on the evenings of Thursday, October 4 and Friday, October 5 from 4-10PM each night. The fashion crawl is free & open to the stylish public. A trolley will be running from JB Lacher Jewelers just off Main to the MUSE Shoe Studio and all the stops in between, so you can just rest your platformed feet and ride to your destination.

Participants are encouraged to pick up a “Passport to Fashion” at any sponsor location (listed below), then take it along as you visit each store. Every stop you make will earn a stamp in your passport, the more stamps you collect, the more times your name is entered for some fabulous giveaways – including $100 gift cards, a $500 gift card for skincare and an All-Expense Paid Shopping Getaway to the shopping mecca, New York City! What’s more, during the week of October 1-6, your Passport will also be your ticket to Taste of the Town , for specialty cocktails and appetizers from some of Downtown’s best restaurants.

So join your fellow femme fatales this Thursday and Friday for some fashion fun so fabulous, it’s almost frightening! For more information on Fashion on the Town, visit their Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fashion-on-the-TOWN/128302353928727. See you there!

 

Fashion on the Town Shopping Sponsors:

Ayer’s Leather Shop – 201 N. Main St.

The Beaded Frog – 231 N. Main St.

The Cook’s Station – 659 S. Main St.

Custard Boutique – 718A S. Main St

Diana Classic Children – 1 Augusta St

Greenville Gem Mine – 205 N. Main St

Ike’s Carpet, Rug & Upholstery Cleaning – 128 Poinsett Hwy

Invert Action Sports – 24 River St

JB Lacher Jewelers – 123 College St

Kitchen Arts & Pottery – 400 E. McBee Ave

Mast General Store – 111 N. Main St

Wool Over Your Eyes – 24 W. North St

 

Restaurant Sponsors:

Brew & Ewe – 108 W. Broad St

Café & Then Some – 101 College St

Ford’s Oyster House & Cajun Kitchen – 631 S. Main St

The Green Room – 116 N. Main St

Poppington’s Popcorn – 30 S. Main St

Saffron’s West End – 31 Augusta St

Two Chef’s Deli & Market – 104 S. Main St

 

 



Most Southerners will be quick to tell you, we’re just a little more creative than your average folk. Maybe it’s because our resourceful forebears had to make do with very little, or maybe it’s because the heat & humidity force us to do things more inventively, but life tends to be a little more imaginative here in the South. After all, a great many world-renowned artists, writers, actors and other respected thespians hail from this region. Downtown Greenville is no exception…we love our art and we love our artists! This month spotlights the love we share for the artistic side of our fair city with two really cool art events.

The first event is a newcomer to the Greenville Arts Scene.  Inspired by a similar event that takes place each summer in New Orleans, White Linen Night Greenville strives to showcase Downtown Greenville’s thriving Arts Community and to introduce art conneseiuers & art “newbies” alike to the many wonderful local galleries tucked away just off Main Street in a way that is fun, friendly, and …best of all… FREE! Part art gallery tour, part pub crawl & shopping excursion, this laid-back event is a farewell to summer celebration throughout Main Street from The Hyatt to the West End.  Visitors will find art openings at a dozen galleries on and near Main Street, with contemporary works by local, regional and nationally known artists. Also, many of the galleries will feature live entertainment, refreshments and artists’ discussions & demonstrations. Plus, those taking part in the “crawl” can register for a chance to win prizes such as gift certificates and other “goodies” from some of the coolest Downtown restaurants & retail establishments.

Taking place September 1st, attendees are encouraged to wear white during this Labor Day Weekend event – traditionally the last time one was supposed to wear white. Festivities begin at the Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville (200 North Main Street) with registration from 5PM until 6PM. Galleries will be open for the Art Crawl until 10PM. Not to be left out of the fun, many Downtown restaurants and retail establishments are offering White Linen Specials on food, drinks and other products during the event.  Art lovers of all ages are encouraged to come out for this wonderful chance to see (and purchase) some incredible local art and learn about Greenville’s vibrant art scene from the artists and gallery owners themselves.  For more information on White Linen Night Greenville, visit their Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/WhiteLinenNightGreenville or follow on Twitter @WhiteLinenGVL.

The second event sharing the September arts spotlight is one that is making its long-awaited return to the Downtown events calendar. Art in the Park draws renowned artists from all over the Southeast region as well as thousands of on-lookers for a weekend of exhibits, demonstrations, and a gallery showcasing over 200 original works of art.  Established in 1991 as a festival for local artists, Art in the Park grew to include the best artists of the upstate and beyond, until 2008. By popular demand, Art in the Park is back for its 18th season, bringing back the best of what the festival brought to the community and its artists. The weekend of September 22nd & 23rd, South Main Street from Broad to Camperdown and at the end of the Liberty Bridge at Wyche Parking Lot will become a sea of artwork available not only for your viewing pleasure, but will also be for sale.  The event will take place 10AM – 6PM on Saturday, the 22nd and 11AM – 5PM on Sunday, the 23rd. For those wishing to broaden their artistic experience to include the culinary arts, Larkin’s on the River will be hosting an “Art After Dark” event on Saturday, the 23rd, from 7:30-11:30PM. For more information on Art in the Park & Art After Dark, visit: http://www.artintheparkgreenville.com.

So, venture Downtown and take in some of our city’s finest art & culture.  These events are a great way to introduce families to fine art and can also make an excellent Date Night or Girl’s Night Out event (especially White Linen Night and Art After Dark). Then you can top off your day or evening with a tour of Downtown’s “Art in Public Places”, hunt for the many “Mice on Main” with the kids, or treat yourself to dinner, drinks and dancing or live music at one of the many excellent Downtown venues! Sounds to me like time well-spent in our beautiful Downtown…which is itself a divine work of art!

For More Information:

White Linen Night Greenville:  A fun, friendly and free art crawl of several Main Street galleries – but with a twist! Find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhiteLinenNightGreenville or follow on Twitter at @WhiteLinenGVL.

Art in the Park: Making its much anticipated return after a 4 year hiatus, this most favorite of Up[state art festivals features work from many local & regionally known artists. For more info, visit www.artintheparkgreenville.com

Art After Dark: An evening of good food, good spirits, good music and great art at Larkin’s on the River.

Art in Public Places: Take a walking or scenic driving tour through the City of Greenville and discover a diverse collection of unique artwork that has complemented the city’s continued growth. Each tour provides scenic maps of the city, photographs of all the city’s artwork and detailed descriptions and historical information.  For more information, visit: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/Culture/ArtinPublicPlaces

Mice on Main: Inspired by the book, “Good Night Moon”, these 10 wonderful little mice can be found peeking out from under foliage and landmarks throughout Downtown. Because of ongoing construction, some of the mice may have moved to a new location. For more information & hints to help with your own Mouse Hunt, visit: http://miceonmain.com

 



{August 7, 2012}   The Promise of Fall

When I stepped outside the other morning, the air held a hint of coolness signaling the fact that the Summer season had turned a corner. I came to the happy realization that Fall is on its way. There is just something special about Autumn in The South. I know, I know…every tourism board is convinced that their part of the country is the most beautiful in which to spend this season, but to this Greenville Girl, nothing beats Fall’s approach in the Upstate of SC.

From mid-August through September, depending how far below the Mason-Dixon line you are,  this favorite season starts to make itself apparent. The humidity finally dips to breathable levels, the mornings are noticeably cooler and even the air starts to smell like…well, FALL (which I think smells like apples).  Other than the occasional torrential rainstorm that chooses to rear its ugly head, the weather is bordering on near perfection.

People from other parts of the country may wonder why Fall is such an event in the nine states that make up the American South. Because to Southerners, Autumn is the reward for surviving an Endless Summer – which in Dixie, is not nearly as idyllic as The Beach Boys made it sound. You see, here in the South, Spring does not last 3 months like it does in the rest of the country, it lasts 3 weeks. Temps go from enjoyable to resembling Hell’s Sauna in a heartbeat. And they stay that way for four long months! Want to know why Southerners walk and talk so slow? Because to do anything fast during this time in the South will most certainly end in heat stroke.

So, what makes this current time of the year so magical in Downtown Greenville? Because the cooler mornings and lower humidity gives us hope that, although it’s still officially Summer, Autumn is reaching out with the promise of crisp temps, glorious colors & many of the things that make living here great! For Downtownies, that alone is reason for celebration! And celebrate we do – with Moonlight Movies in September, Fall for Greenville in October and all the many Fall Festivals that pop up around the area. For sports fans like me, Fall means that most “sacred” of Southern traditions…FOOTBALL! Downtown becomes a palette of orange, garnet and purple, with sports bars coming alive with fans cheering on their favorite teams and gathering after to enjoy a post-game meal at an outdoor cafe, while reliving the action with fellow fans.

So, make a little time to visit Downtown during this wonderful time of year, when Summer is making its departure and Autumn is planning its arrival. Enjoy an outdoor concert as Downtown Alive, Main Street Fridays and Rhythm on the River wind up their seasons. Stop into one of the amazing restaurants and sample some of their savory Fall delicacies such as hot apple pie or pumpkin cheesecake. Visit the Saturday Market to check out their fresh Fall produce – like butternut and acorn squash, pumpkins and apples – and have a cup of hot apple cider while you’re there.  Visit the unique shops to see beautiful hand-knit items, most created by local artisans. The weeks leading up to the official start of Fall are truly a magical time of year in Downtown Greenville…and a time you really shouldn’t miss!



I remember the first time I experienced Downtown Greenville. Although I lived in Georgia, I had family in the Upstate and often spent part of my summer vacation here. I was about 6 or 7 and had come Downtown with my aunts to visit some local antique stores.  I remember the tall red brick buildings against the Carolina blue sky and the parking meters where colorfully dressed women stood and waved as we drove by. My aunts pointed out the Poinsett Hotel and told me that was where their proms were held…which seemed odd to me, since it looked empty and abandoned at the time. I remember the sweet, musty smell of the antique stores that were owned by local people with names like Townes, Pinkney and McBee, who took time to chat with us and share the history of the various items in the shop. I also remember how important it was to my aunts that we leave before it got dark. Although they offered no explanation, in my child’s mind, I imagined that Downtown Greenville was a magical place that could only been seen at special times and disappeared at the end of the day – rather like the town in the movie “Brigadoon”, which I had seen on TV the week before.  As we drove away from town, I looked back for a last glimpse of the city that would become so important to me years later.

When I was in high school, my parents and I moved to the Upstate. I was eager to visit Downtown to see if it still retained the same magic it held that first visit years before.  As soon as I could, I found my way to Main Street.  The 4 lane street had changed to two, now flanked by sidewalks and shade trees. The parking meters and flamboyant women were gone, as were many of the antique stores – replaced by vintage clothing stores, coffee houses and charming cafes, each more interesting than the previous one (and MUCH more interesting than anything I saw at the mall), most still locally owned by “old family” Greenvillians and new residents alike. Downtown was also home to a fledgling arts and theatre community featuring not only The Peace Center, but many new theatres and art galleries (also locally owned and operated) that had moved into formerly vacant storefronts. With older, almost adult eyes, I now saw some of the cracks in Downtown’s mystic (and why my aunts were so eager to get home before dark), but that didn’t lessen the fascination it held for me.  There was an excitement Downtown – a bohemian independence, a determined uniqueness, a promise of what could be. My new hometown had come a long way, but still had a ways to go and I was eager to be a part of its bright future.

Where am I going with this walk down memory lane? When many of the large retailers moved out of Downtown in the 1960’s and 70’s to re-establish themselves in malls and shopping centers, it was local “Mom & Pop” establishments that moved in.  It was the same unique local businesses that kept Downtown from dying entirely and fiercely independent local business owners who shared the inspiration and vision that made our award-winning Main Street what it is today. It was an eclectic group of local businesspeople who helped re-develop the West End and a “motley crew” of wonderfully eccentric local characters that are making the North End a fun and funky destination.

I understand that “big business” and chain stores are important to the economy. They provide employment, commerce and convenience to local residents. They can also sap an area of its distinctiveness and make it look like “Anywhere, USA”.  Small, locally owned businesses are the lifeblood to a place like Downtown Greenville. Their owners are vested in the community – they are our friends, family and neighbors. They present products created locally and add an unmistakable flavor that can only be found in the Upstate. Ask yourself, would you rather have a plain pair of earrings that can be found at any department store or a pair hand-crafted from recycled materials by a local artisan from Green-Eyed Girls Boutique? Buy a CD by the latest trendy pop star, or classics by local blues legends found on vinyl at Horizon Records? Have dinner at a chain restaurant with an inoffensive menu, or a twist on a Carolina classic prepared by a southern chef using locally grown produce? I thought so…

Now I am not saying we should do away with chain stores entirely. But we should do all we can to support our local small business owners. Next time you are in the market for a particular item…be it a new shirt or just a cup of coffee as you run your errands…consider stopping by a locally owned business first. Not only will you find some truly exceptional items, you’ll probably meet some pretty exceptional people too! And our local economy will be all the better for it!

Today, Downtown Greenville boasts a thriving arts and theatre community, locally owned restaurants with menus worthy of those found in NYC, LA and even Europe, funky little shops with a Boho vibe and an electrifying nightlife with music venues featuring phenomenal local and regional talent. I now think I understand the secret to Downtown’s mystic. She is a modern Southern Belle – gracious and inviting by day, making her friends and guests feel happy, warm and welcome. But she does not retreat when the sun goes down…far from it! At night, she lets her hair down, puts on her party dress and celebrates life with a “joie di vive” that is all her own. This is my Downtown Greenville – traditional and funky, gracious and fearless, social and independent, but most of all, not quite like any other place on Earth, and I am so glad to call it home!



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