Village District is not just a shopping destination. It is a set of shared life experiences stretching back to the 1950s.
We’ve collected your stories and memories of life in Village District into a living history. Have a story? Share your memory here.
Love is Colorblind
Hear Barbara G. tell their story.
I remember so well her marching all of us right back to the shop, where we went in and she "let them have it" in the nicest way that a Southern lady could do.
My favorite memory of Cameron Village goes back to when I was about 4 years old. It was 1962. I was an only child and my family was lucky to have a “maid.” Her name was Sarah and she was a stately African American woman about the same age as my mother. She had seven children of her own, and she cared for me as if I belonged to her as well. I loved her dearly and so did my momma. She was part of our family. My momma loved to shop at Boylan Pearce. And I have many fond memories of shopping there for birthdays and other occasions, but especially at Christmas.
The store was full of so many things that I wanted. It was decorated beautifully and I remember how festive it made me feel! One time, while shopping at BP at Christmastime, my momma sent Sarah and I down the block to the little sandwich shop to get a Coke-a-Cola while she shopped a bit more. The name of the shop escapes me, but I remember that we went down some steps to get there. Anyway, when we entered the shop, they told Sarah that they wouldn’t serve her because she was African American. So we headed back to Boylan Pearce to momma. I have never seen my mother so mad in all of my life. I remember so well her marching all of us right back to the shop, where we went in and she “let them have it” in the nicest way that a Southern lady could do.
We ordered and sat down and drank our Coke-a Cola surrounded by the other diners who seemed to be in awe of my momma. I remember how proud Sarah was sitting upright with her best posture, looking at my mother with adoring eyes, trying not to make eye contact with the other diners. It was very strange for me, as I could not understand fully what had happened. I only knew that my mother had been made very angry and had stood up for the woman whom we all adored. The early sixties were a time of transition for African Americans and my mother was an integral part of that change, standing up for someone who was special to us and part of our family. Love is colorblind and still is.
I joined the program through then the Athlete’s Foot, now Capital RunWalk. Immediately one of the coaches caught my eye!
Back in the Spring of 2009, I was walking around Cameron Village and noticed a poster outside of my favorite running store advertising a couch to 5k program. I was a fresh graduate of NC State University who needed an activity to meet more folks in the triangle and thought this would be perfect (and hey, I might shed a few pounds!).
I joined the program through then the Athlete’s Foot, now Capital RunWalk. Immediately one of the coaches caught my eye! He always wore these bright red running shorts and liked to chat with me, so from then on out he was dubbed “Runner Boy” to all my friends.
Since this cute guy wasn’t my usual coach (I was in the running group, he was leading the run/walk group), I faked a sinus infection one day and ran with his group to get some more face time with “Runner Boy” in the red shorts. That day I met “Baker” and from there we chatted until the end of the Spring program when Baker got up the nerve to ask me out! Six short years later we’re now married (our reverend even said a few things about those red shorts…) and we still run together in the Village on Tuesday nights at Capital RunWalk’s social runs!
This cherished memory of Cameron Village will always be our story, so thank you CV, and we hope to have many more “firsts” with you surrounding us!
Friend from Honduras
Two summers ago, my friend from Honduras was able to come to North Carolina for a week.
Two summers ago, my friend from Honduras was able to come to North Carolina for a week. The first thing I had to show her was all the shops our community had to offer. When we took her down to Cameron Village, she immediately burst into tears. She explained that it was so amazing how clean and pretty everything was and how easy it was to be there. Two years later, she moved to Raleigh and we still spend our Friday nights eating and shopping.
Growing up with Cameron Village
Hear Jill C. tell their story.
I still shop at Cameron Village and still love its vibrancy. It has grown up...just like me.
I came to Raleigh to visit when I was young and remember walking through Ellisberg’s being amazed at the furs and fancy dresses. Later, I moved to Raleigh when I came to attend NCSU in the late 1970’s. Not long after graduation, I moved into a little one bedroom apartment on Daniels Street. Even then, I loved the vibrancy and living somewhere that was so close to everything. I became a real-life adult in that little apartment.
I had a job where I had to dress professionally, so I went to Thalheimer’s for clothes and to Nowell’s when I needed or could possibly afford that special piece of clothing. I went to Hooper’s for Skyr turtlenecks, I ate hotdogs at the little place tucked away that I cannot even recall the name of. I ventured into the subway and saw awesome acts. I got groceries at the Big Star. I got older, I got married, and we bought a house not far away. I had kids and bought them cute clothes from the Talbot’s Kids store, then bought sporting goods at Johnson-Lambe for them as they grew up. My husband bought me beautiful jewelry from Johnson’s Jewelers. It is my place. I always said if I could not find it at Cameron Village, then I did not need it–whatever “it” was.
I still shop at Cameron Village and still love its vibrancy. It has grown up…just like me.
The sales ladies made you feel like royalty...
I loved shopping at Burton’s. They would spray perfum on the brick next to the front door. The sales ladies made you feel like royalty, carrying your items to the dressing rooms for you and retrieving a different size if needed. What a wonderful store and wonderful employees.
Cameron Village and I Are the Same Age
Cameron Village and I are the same age so I have MANY memories, some that go waaay back. It's impossible to come up with one blockbuster memory. Cameron Village is so much a part of my life that it's more like a series of memories.
Cameron Village and I are the same age so I have MANY memories, some that go waaay back. It’s impossible to come up with one blockbuster memory. Cameron Village is so much a part of my life that it’s more like a series of memories.
I recall when Sears Roebuck was in the space now occupied by Harris-Teeter. During the Christmas season, Santa sat upon his throne in the basement of Sears, the area along Daniels Street. Directly across Daniels Street was the S&W Cafeteria (pre-Balentine’s days). What a treat to go there and be faced with so many choices to put on a tray. My parents warned us not to let our eyes be bigger than our stomachs. Across the street on the corner of Daniels and Cameron Streets was the Colonial (grocery) Store where we could stand in front of the bakery cases and count on being offered either a large sugar or oatmeal cookie. After the grocery store moved to the location now occupied by the Rite-Aid pharmacy, Burton’s moved to that corner. Although Burton’s was primarily a ladies’ store, I do recall getting a winter coat there as a pre-teen. Burton’s was one of THE places to shop along with Nowell’s further down on Daniels Street and Nowell’s Village Squire on Woodburn Road. My wedding dress came from Burton’s in 1982.
Near Nowell’s on Daniels Street was the Elizabeth Knipe store which served the well-dressed younger set from the cradle on up to junior high school. One of my favorites as I got older was Village Book and Stationery (corner of Cameron and Woodburn), a place that sold not only books and stationery but all kinds of other gift items. As a 20-something living in an apartment on Daniels Street, I decided one day that I wanted to start making bread so I went to “the book store” and came home with a Betty Crocker cookbook which gave simple instructions for making bread. That cookbook is now falling apart and I’m still making bread and other goodies from the cookbook. Another long-gone member of the Cameron Village family was the Village Theatre located in the area occupied by the K&W cafeteria. Although I saw many movies there over the years, the two that stand out for me are “Old Yeller” (1958) and “Chinatown” (1974), my all-time favorite. This was back in the days when, once you entered the theatre, you could stay as long as you wished since staff didn’t clear the theatre between showings.
I’ve rambled on here, but really I’ve just scratched the surface. I’ve witnessed so many changes in “the Village”–some changes I’ve liked and others not so much. I look forward to seeing what’s down the road for a place that’s been a key location in my life.
As a small child, I was deathly afraid of Santa. One of my earliest memories was my mom dressing me up in my best dress, complete with "Sunday" coat and going to visit Santa in the Christmas section of Sears.
As a small child, I was deathly afraid of Santa. One of my earliest memories was my mom dressing me up in my best dress, complete with “Sunday” coat and going to visit Santa in the Christmas section of Sears. I started out with just a few peeks but after much encouragement finally consented to sit on his lap and tell him my wishes. My parents had tried Santas everywhere, but it was the special one at Cameron Village that succeeded in getting me over my fear.
The Wedding Dress Party
Needless to say we all started chiming in about why we would/wouldn't be able to wear our dresses. Some people said they'd be too big or too small or that they'd preserved their dress. I took that opportunity to say...
I was out to dinner at Cantina 18 for a girls’ night out. I was waiting for the perfect opportunity to tell my girlfriends I was expecting my first child. When I found the perfect opportunity, we were discussing how sad it was that we wouldn’t have the opportunity to wear our wedding dresses again when we landed on the idea of having a party to wear our dresses. Needless to say we all started chiming in about why we would/wouldn’t be able to wear our dresses. Some people said they’d be too big or too small or that they’d preserved their dress. I took that opportunity to say, “I won’t be able to wear mine because I’m pregnant!” Everyone at my table erupted in excitement and just about everyone in the restaurant came by on the way out to see what all the excitement was about. It was so much fun and people were so kind when we told them my exciting news. Such a fun and memorable night!
Stop That Little Girl!
When I reached the door, I saw her running as fast as her little fat legs would go. Being 36 weeks pregnant, there was no way I could run after her.
One day in December 1969, I was shopping in Boylan-Pierce Department Store with my just-turned-two-year-old daughter. I was standing at the hosiery counter near the front door of the store holding tightly to my toddler’s hand when I briefly let go of her to check the color of the hose. When I reached for her hand again, she was gone. As I looked frantically at the door entrance, I saw a man entering the store. My little girl scooted between his legs and made a right turn towards Burton’s a block away. When I reached the door, I saw her running as fast as her little fat legs would go. Being 36 weeks pregnant, there was no way I could run after her. All I could do was scream, “Stop that little girl!” She made it all the way to Burton’s before a kind gentleman caught her and brought her back to me. I have shopped at Cameron Village many, many times since 1969, however, this particular day will forever stand out in my memories of the shopping center!
An Integral Part of My Life
I will always view the current Cameron Village as it was and how it shaped my view of what Raleigh was all about–a very special place that I am honored to have enjoyed.
I grew up in Apex, NC. The original Cameron Village is an integral part of my life as a child and young adult.
I became very familiar with the Village when I was old enough to ride to work with my mother during the summer and spend the entire day with my cousin exploring the entire Village. My mother worked for many years in the York Building for Asphalt Institute and I can still recall the particular odor of that old building and how the stairs creeked as I wallked up to her office. Dr. Whitaker’s office was at the top of those stairs and he and his nurse, Irene, became part of those visits and friends of our family.
A memory that was repeated many times on those days was to visit the Federal Bake Shop, select a bag of goodies (I can still smell and taste them) and enjoy the treats while watching a movie across the street–a huge event for a country girl come to town.
The distinctness of each store, Penny’s, Boylan Pearce and Thalhimers where I had my one and only retail job as a young adult. That is where I learned to wear sensible shoes when standing on your feet for hours and the pain of the resulting ache.
Boylan Pearce where I received my very first makeup collection for a high school graduation gift. The “fancy” feel of that store and the impression that you were in an extra special place. The Hobby Shop where you could spend hours watching the trains and never feeling like you were a bother to anyone.
The barbour shop has the distinguished memory of a painful growing experience. The day I turned 16, my mother brought me to work so I could get my license. Afterwards, she caved to my begging to let me drive to Fayetteville street without her where I parallel parked for the first time. Backing out of that parking spot across from the barbour shop was the scene of my only driving violation to this day. I bumped a car beside me, took a quick peek to make sure I had done no damage and went excitedly on my way. Two weeks later when I returned from a visit away with my grandparents, my dad presented me with a letter charging me with a hit and run! Thanks to that diligent and observant citizen watching me from the barbour shop! As it turned out, I had actually damaged the car. My parents did not try to “get me out of it” and I keenly recall the experience and emotions of sitting in a courtroom waiting my turn to stand before the judge and face my punishment. As I recall, my parents paid the $40 fine for that punishment and it was never mentioned again.
I miss so many things about the original Cameron Village. It is a special place now of another kind. It was a welcoming, familiar, safe place to roam and enjoy the hospitality of the stores where there were long-time employees and you felt cared for. I will always view the current Cameron Village as it was and how it shaped my view of what Raleigh was all about–a very special place that I am honored to have enjoyed. If you are lucky enough to meet an area native, you should ask about their memories of “what use to be.” It would be hard to imagine with the progress of today, but I bet you would hear the same fond sentiments that I am thankful for.
A Real Bargain
As I was about to leave, I saw a beautiful huge Christmas tree that was being raffled off, I put my name in the box and gave the lady a dollar. Hours later I got a surprise phone call...
One Saturday morning back in 1989, my girlfriend told me to meet her in Cameron Village at a place called The Bargain Box. They were having a huge toy sale. She thought I would be able to get some toys for my daughter for Christmas, being that I was a single parent and couldn’t afford to buy a lot for my daughter. I was able to get some bargain toys at a great deal. As I was about to leave, I saw a beautiful huge Christmas tree that was being raffled off, I put my name in the box and gave the lady a dollar. Hours later I got a surprise phone call that I had won the tree. That was one of the best Christmases my daughter and I had. She got lots of toys and had her first real tree that year; all because I went to the Bargain Box in Cameron Village early that Saturday morning in December in 1989.
Cupcake Proposal: The Husband's Point of View
At first, Rebecca was so enthralled with the cupcakes, she didn't even notice the sign taped to the lid.
I proposed to my wife in Cameron Village. In 2010, it was date night and it was my turn to plan the date so I told my girlfriend I wanted to take her to Cameron Village for dinner. We arrived and I asked her if we could walk around before dinner. As we passed Bailey’s, I asked if we could go in and look at watches since she was helping me pick out one. What she didn’t know was I had already bought the ring at Bailey’s and Ginger, one of the sales reps, was part of the plan for me to pop the question.
Earlier in the day, Ginger had run down to GiGi’s cupcakes and picked up a dozen cupcakes. Inside the lid of the box was a sign that read “Rebecca, will you marry me?” As Ginger is showing us watches, she asked Rebecca if she would like a cupcake while she waited for me to pick out a watch. Of cource, Rebecca would never turn down a Gigi’s cupcake so Ginger took the box of cupcakes out and placed them on top of the counter and lifted the lid. At first, Rebecca was so enthralled with the cupcakes, she didn’t even notice the sign taped to the lid. Ginger had to tap the lid to get Rebecca’s attention. It was an amazing moment because Ginger had also slid the ring box over to me so by the time the screaming and jumping had calmed down, I was on one knee presenting the Bailey’s box. The answer was “yes” and the store was packed so the applause made it even more special.
The part that made it the most special was Ginger must have told Clyde Bailey about my plan because he came over to congratulate us and present us with two glasses of champagne. I also had a close friend involved in this scheme as well. Bailey’s allowed her to place a couple of video camera’s in the store to capture everything. We celebrate our 5th anniversary in Oct of 2016 and still watch the video every year as part of our celebration. Thanks to Bailey’s and Cameron Village for making this possible!
Fresh Market Respect
The memory has rendered me forever grateful to and in awe of the employees I encounter when I grocery shop who have successfully memorized all of the produce codes and mastered the best way to fill a grocery bag.
My favorite Cameron Village memory is my very brief employment at The Fresh Market in Cameron Village. In the fall of the year I started graduate school at NC State, I worked for less than a month, maybe even two weeks (who can remember?) as a bagger and cashier. The memory has rendered me forever grateful to and in awe of the employees I encounter when I grocery shop who have successfully memorized all of the produce codes and mastered the best way to fill a grocery bag. I also have vivid memories of the sights and smells of The Fresh Market and deeply appreciate the role of the nose in forming memories whenever I enter the doors as a customer today. As a result, whenever I get the chance, I head to The Fresh Market to enjoy the coffee samples, pick up some brownie pillow cookies or grab a pot pie.
Cupcake Proposal: The Wife's Point of View
We pulled into Cameron Village and I joked with him about there being some jewelry stores and we should go engagement ring shopping. Little did I know.
In 2011, my boyfriend at the time surprised me with a date night at Cameron Village. We pulled into Cameron Village and I joked with him about there being some jewelry stores and we should go engagement ring shopping. Little did I know. We pulled into the parking lot and got out. He proceeded to tell me that our dinner reservation was not for another hour so we could enjoy shopping. What girl doesn’t say, “Yippee?!”
We walked around the wonderful shops and then we ended up at Bailey’s. My then boyfriend wanted a watch. We walked in and was directed to the watch section by amazing and truly wonderful people. They offered us something to drink and cupcakes. Little did I know that the staff at Bailey’s were in on the surprise. When the cupcakes arrived, they were Gigi’s Cupcakes and looked amazing…but what was amazing was my now husband had placed a giant sign in the cupcake box asking me to marry him. The staff at Bailey’s were so amazing and of course, I said “yes” right there in the middle of Bailey’s.
We had a friend video the experience and all the staff were simply amazing. We then proceeded to spend the remainder of the evening shopping and being giddy around the wonderful shops at Cameron Village. The staff at Bailey’s were absolutely amazing to help my husband pull of this amazing surprise–and that’s not an easy thing to do. We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and Cameron Village will forever have a special place in our hearts. Thank you!
An Ode to Cameron Village
It is in the later weeks of November, the dawn of winter, as days shorten and streetlights stretch a dark likeness of our figures out against the cold grey sidewalk, as an unforgiving, biting cold constantly reminds me of the warmth of her fingers pressing into my own.
It is in the later weeks of November, the dawn of winter, as days shorten and streetlights stretch a dark likeness of our figures out against the cold grey sidewalk, as an unforgiving, biting cold constantly reminds me of the warmth of her fingers pressing into my own. It is here, where the silhouetted backdrop that marks the depths of my affections comes to haunt me in the most gorgeous way with every shudder, every shuffling readjustment of fabric. It is the warm glow emanating from the storefronts that enchant and enamor me, that warm me with memories of helpless laughter shared over steaming mugs. Walking through Cameron Village, I am flooded with memories. Wandering wide-eyed through shops as a small child, tightly gripping my mother’s hand; running my fingers along miles of books, feeling the spines until I found the right one. But nothing, however marvelous or joyful, warms me like it does to remember that November afternoon. My heart was pounding and my pocket felt heavy with the weight of the box. I had picked the necklace out myself, a tiny pendant with a daisy that I was sure I had seen her wearing in a dream, draped over her collarbones, sitting elegantly where they converged. As her lips pulled back just slightly over her teeth, the corners of her eyes crinkling, I fastened the clasps behind her neck with shaking fingers.
It is here where I learned love.
The Fish Pond
But I have to say the best part of my visit was always getting to see the indoor live goldfish pond. Those were the biggest, most fluorescent orange goldfish I'd ever seen in my life.
When I was a little girl growing up in Cary, my mom would take myself and my sister shopping at Boylan Pearce located at Cameron Village. I loved seeing the beautifully decorated mannequins and “scenes” that were created, especially at Christmas. This was back when people really did window shopping. And as a child, the decor turned each window into a toy land! But I have to say the best part of my visit was always getting to see the indoor live goldfish pond. Those were the biggest, most fluorescent orange goldfish I’d ever seen in my life. It wasn’t uncommon for me to lie down along the fishpond and just watch them swim awhile as my mother shopped at the make-up counter across the aisle. The older I get, I realize how fortunate and blessed I was to have grown up around Raleigh; and by far one my sweetest memories as a child was going to Boylan Pearce to see the beautiful goldfish pond. To me, it was just magical!
Hear Lane W. tell their story.
Each and every Christmas that we have been here, we have made it a family tradition to spend a full night at the Cameron Village Holiday Open House.
So, I don’t have many past memories of strolling the streets of Cameron Village, since my wife and I moved here just eight years ago. However, when we moved here, we had no children. Fast forward eight years, we have three and one on the way. Each and every Christmas that we have been here, we have made it a family tradition to spend a full night at the Cameron Village Holiday Open House. With our oldest, he started off in the stroller, staring in wonder at the beautiful decorations and street performers all around him. As soon as he could move on his own, he was the first to jump on the “ice slide” and beg to ride the horse/carriage ride, and trains. Now, he pulls along his younger brother and toddler sister. We cannot wait to make more family memories at the Open House in a couple of weeks, as our last holiday Open House as a family of five! We are already talking about next year as our newest addition (circa April 2016) will be the new one taking in the sights and wonders of the season!
There was one toy in particular, a plush, stuffed dog, that really caught my attention. Each time I would go look at it on the shelf, until one time it wasn't there.
I was a senior at Broughton and my first job was working at Renn’s Toyville. I really loved stocking the toys and games on the shelves and each time I went to work, I enjoyed seeing the new stock. There was one toy in particular, a plush, stuffed dog, that really caught my attention. Each time I would go look at it on the shelf, until one time it wasn’t there. I was really disheartened, until I saw it under the tree on Christmas Day. My mother had bought it for me! Fond memories of Renn’s Toyville and my first job!
We had met another couple in our childbirth class that was also pregnant with their first child. We were both due with girls within a week of one another.
Although I have many memories that come to mind with Cameron Village, the one that sticks out the most is when my husband and I were pregnant with our first child back in 2003. We had met another couple in our childbirth class that was also pregnant with their first child. We were both due with girls within a week of one another. We instantly became friends and our first event, outside of childbirth class, was to go on a double date to Piccola Italia. We stuffed ourselves with delicious pizza and had a wonderful evening. From there we decided to go to Harris Teeter and raid the bakery for some delicious desserts. We sat inside Harris Teeter for probably an hour talking and laughing. We are still great friends to this day!
I will always think of Cameron Village as a happy beginning to my recovery process.
While I’ve always enjoyed Cameron Village, I have a specific memory…I was in a wheelchair due to a traumatic brain injury in October 2010. I was still doing inpatient therapy over the holidays, but at that time, I got weekend passes to go out. My extended family was visiting for Christmas (and up from Florida due to my accident). I remember going to Cameron a Village with the family and Mom pushing me in the wheelchair past all of the trees with Christmas lights. It was very memorable as it was the first time since my accident that I felt happy.
Although it was cold, I remember thoroughly enjoying the lights. Afterwards, we went to eat breakfast for dinner at the Flying Biscuit. Their delicious pancakes warmed me up from the cold. Then, we made it to the library just in time before it closed. I remember being transferred from my wheelchair into a comfortable chair and reading a chapter or two in one of my favorite childhood books. I remember taking a moment to be very thankful I could still read, as other victims of traumatic brain injuries aren’t so lucky. I hated to leave but I had a curfew at Wake Med. I will always think of Cameron Village as a happy beginning to my recovery process.
Surprise Birthday Dinner
Hear Anna W. tell their story.
One of my favorite memories from Cameron Village was when my husband gave me a surprise birthday dinner at Piccola Italia Restaurant.
One of my favorite memories from Cameron Village was when my husband gave me a surprise birthday dinner at Piccola Italia Restaurant. I was turning 23 that year and on the drive over, he asked me “This is your 24th birthday, right?” I was a little stunned because we had only been married for a year and I had yet to learn that he was “IPD – Important Date Challenged” ; ) So he turned a whiter shade of pale and that is when I realized that he was planning something. When we arrived at Piccola (still our favorite Italian place, even 33 years later), our friends were waiting for us and all wished me a Happy 24th Birthday. I had never had a surprise party before and this one surprised all of us! It was a wonderful time and the warmth and cozy ambiance and delicious food in Frank’s place gave me a lovely and funny tale to pass on to our family and friends.
The Magic of Cameron Village
My eyes would light up as we would approach Cameron Village. I couldn't wait to get there each year to see all the beauty and wonderment of the Christmas season.
When I was a little girl, every year my parents would take me to Cameron Village to see Santa and all of the beautiful, and colorful, lit up trees. The first time I can remember going was when I was five years old. That was 38 years ago. So hard to believe because it seems like yesterday to me when I drive around the area. I always thought it was the prettiest and so very magical. My eyes would light up as we would approach Cameron Village. I couldn’t wait to get there each year to see all the beauty and wonderment of the Christmas season. It was so much fun and the some of the best memories of my childhood were spent at Cameron Village. I continue to this day visiting Cameron Village to shop and to eat. I love the area and that it continues to grow and get better all the time. Thanks for the wonderful memories. I will always cherish them. I wish I had photos to share, but unfortunately I don’t being that long ago. My mind will have to hold those special times as well as my heart. Have a blessed and beautiful day.
Hear Sarah tell their story.
I thought that you and your friend were really pretty, and you didn’t see me, but I knew then that I wanted to be like you!
To begin my memorable Cameron Village experience, I first want to start off by saying that I am a local middle school home economics teacher. One Saturday afternoon, a year ago, my best friend and I decided to go to Cameron Village for a little retail therapy. We put on our cutest, comfy outfits, boots, scarves, jewelry, and made sure our hair and makeup looked good! We walked around from store to store, arms linked, giggling and of course, having a fabulous time! We always found treasures at Palm Avenue, Fab’rik, FiFi’s, and Charlotte’s! Of course, we were hungry after shopping most of the afternoon, so we made our way over to Tazza for dinner and drinks. After dinner, we couldn’t stop ourselves from going to Goodberries! It was a great Saturday, and we both had a blast shopping, getting a “work out” in, and eating delicious food!
Weeks later at school, a student I began mentoring came over and started sharing a story about the one time she saw me outside of school. She said, “I’m really glad you’re my teacher! After getting to know you, I think you’re a really good mentor, role model, and someone I can trust. There was this one time that my mom and I went to Cameron Village and I saw you and your friend walking around from store to store. I thought that you and your friend were really pretty, and you didn’t see me, but I knew then that I wanted to be like you!”
It was a statement so small, but it made me go back to that day with my best friend. The giggles, the items we bought, and the fun time that we had together. My best friend has since then moved out of state for a new job. While we still try to find time to get together, we don’t get to just jump in the car whenever and enjoy an afternoon at Cameron Village. Every time I need an afternoon to get away from the stresses of teaching, I go to the Village and escape back to the one Saturday afternoon with my best friend!
Right on Track
...my son's eyes would glow with the excitement of it all! His younger sister later joined us and the three of us enjoyed years of model railroading fun together because of The Hobby Shop in Cameron Village.
I was already a model railroading fan when my first child was born in 1976. As he grew and got interested in railroads, we frequently shopped at The Hobby Shop, a magical wonderland located then roughly in the area where Baskin-Robbins is now. There were racks and shelves of model trains of all shapes, colors and sizes. A Lionel freight train ran around the store on a track suspended over our heads and my son’s eyes would glow with the excitement of it all! His younger sister later joined us and the three of us enjoyed years of model railroading fun together because of The Hobby Shop in Cameron Village. Cherished memories for each of us.
My Other Home
Cameron Village was our place to enjoy a meal with family, shop for gifts, get a new dress or a pair of shoes, go to the post office, visit the hobby shop, or even look at the hippie clothes in those weird forbidden shops in the Underground.
My father grew up in the Williams-Park home on Hillsborough Street so Cameron Village was within walking distance of my Grandparents’ home. During the 1960’s and 70’s, Cameron Village was like that magical shopping center that had a unique blend of department stores, boutiques, and of course, the best place to eat in Raleigh, Ballentine’s! Back then we did not have to have designer anything except maybe a Winnie the Pooh shirt from Sears. Life was much more simplistic and Cameron Village was representative of that era.
Of course when they opened the Underground, my Grandfather said the hippies would take over Cameron Village. I’m sure he was not pleased when my parents went to see Bette Miller at the Frog and Nightgown. The Underground was like a journey into a different world, and there were certain shops I was not allowed to visit because of course, they sold “hippie mess.”
Raleigh was not my home except when my father was in Vietnam, we were an Air Force family, always on the move. Cameron Village was our place to enjoy a meal with family, shop for gifts, get a new dress or a pair of shoes, go to the post office, visit the hobby shop, or even look at the hippie clothes in those weird forbidden shops in the Underground. Cameron Village has changed a great deal over the years but to me it will always be that childhood shopping center that I grew up in and visited every summer when we would come home to North Carolina. A safe and pleasant place that reminds me of family that made Raleigh my other home, and memories that keep you grounded.
I will never forget how wonderful it was to catch up with my friends for hours in that perfect setting. I wish I could recreate the experience!
One of my most fond memories of Cameron Village was in April, 1984. It was my five-year class reunion at Peace College and the festivities had just ended for the day. But the girls still had lots of catching up to do. So we met at an outdoor café that was at the corner of Clark and Daniels St. I can’t recall the name of the café but we sat outside in the most perfect balmy weather conditions for late April. We talked and laughed until the café had to close for the evening. I will never forget how wonderful it was to catch up with my friends for hours in that perfect setting. I wish I could recreate the experience! I so wish I had a photo to share.
Shopping with "Mom-Mom"
Riding to Cameron Village on Saturday afternoons shopping with my maternal Grandmother, Bessie B. Harris, remains a wonderful memory of my childhood in Raleigh.
Riding to Cameron Village on Saturday afternoons shopping with my maternal Grandmother, Bessie B. Harris, remains a wonderful memory of my childhood in Raleigh. Because we would also go to the Sears (formerly located where current Harris Teeter and Starbucks were built) after shopping and she would buy me chocolate malted balls for the bus ride back to her home on Fayetteville Street, I would try my best to remain patient as we went into Boylan Pearce or other stores.
There was still a great amount of prejudice displayed toward African American shoppers back in the 1960’s, but Cameron Village associates seemingly did not display that as much as stores in the downtown area. In those Village stores, my “Mom-Mom” would carefully examine items and teach me how to determine quality through the feel of the material, what to look for in fabric and how to understand whether an item was well-made.
I can still visualize one of the funniest experiences shared back then. When I noticed that although her shoes were the same style, she had on one black shoe and one navy shoe, I blabbed it to her. She got so upset with her mistake, we had to leave the store and return home. Needless to say, I did not get my much anticipated malted balls and never opened my mouth again about anyone’s fashion faux pas after that day! Chocolate malted balls, shopping with my grandmother and Saturday afternoons are prized memories of a much loved experience!
Bonding with Braces
It was a great bonding time for my mother and me. The way I've always remembered it, I got something from the Village Squire every time I went.
During my junior high days (1967-68), I needed braces. My mother was not going to settle for less than the best care. So, she took me to her old friend, Dr. Henry Zaytoun, for my orthodontics. The hitch: I’m from Rocky Mount. So, every month for a couple of years, while I had braces, I would check out of school and go to Raleigh for a check up with Dr. Zaytoun…and a monthly visit to Cameron Village. It was a ritual after my appointment on St. Mary’s Street. My mother and I would head over to Cameron Village and shop. We’d hit the Village Squire, which was around where Talbots is now, as I recall. It was a great bonding time for my mother and me. The way I’ve always remembered it, I got something from the Village Squire every time I went.
Then, we’d go over to Nowell’s and buy something for my father and shoes for my mother with her narrow feet. That was…and still is…her excuse for buying expensive shoes. When we timed it right, we went to the soda shop stuck in that tiny space near Nowell’s for hot dogs. No tables. You ate sitting in school desks! Oh, so many memories of those great years… with braces… at Cameron Village. I’m sorry that I don’t have a shopping picture, but these memories have always been SO vivid in my mind. I think about the Village Squire trips so often and have told my husband and child about eating hot dogs in that tiny restaurant. I point out the location when we shop now at Cameron Village. I do have a school picture during that time that I looked so pretty 😉 with my braces, ha!
I also discovered The Party Shop back in my junior high days. It was another stop on our monthly Cameron Village shopping expedition. For a young lady dreaming of entertaining like her mother one day, that was like hitting the jackpot to see all those party supplies. I have one of the most elegant mothers in North Carolina, so people say, and she has thrown beautiful parties, but, somewhere along the line, she also developed a thing for paper plates. Is The Party Shop responsible? I know that it’s not due to any store in Rocky Mount. Nice paper plate ensembles were always an easy gift to her, and I caught her disease :-). I still love to drop in The Party Shop and can’t resist buying something every time.
A Bailey's Surprise
He had surprised me about a year before with an amazing ring, and I told him I wanted to get him a surprise.
My husband and I had just gotten married and we had just had lunch at Tazza kitchen. After that I told him I needed to go get my wedding ring checked at Bailey’s because it felt loose. While we waited, we walked around the store. He had surprised me about a year before with an amazing ring, and I told him I wanted to get him a surprise. He said he didn’t think he needed any jewelry. I walked over to the baby section and picked out a silver rattle. I said what about this? He laughed and asked what we would need it for and then I saw him understand. Earlier that day I had learned we had a surprise on the way! Cameron village was a great place to celebrate our milestone.
Going to "See" Santa
When I was a child, we used to go to Cameron Village every Christmas to see the lights. We would also go to see Santa Claus...sort of.
When I was a child, we used to go to Cameron Village every Christmas to see the lights. We would also go to see Santa Claus…sort of. Santa had a booth on the corner beside JC Penney’s. My brother and I were so scared of talking to him one year that when we pulled up close to the booth, we both got down on the floor and hid! We still enjoyed the lights that year and for many more years!
The Perfect Ring
What I did not tell her was that Bailey's was also on my list of places to visit.
Well, first of all I am a life-long resident of Wendell. As you probably know Kannon’s men’s clothing store moved from Wendell to Cameron Village a few years ago (and the women’s will be too soon). This was disappointing, but from a financial standpoint I could totally understand. On Friday, July 3rd of this year my girlfriend and I headed to Cameron Village for lunch at The Flying Biscuit and I told her I needed to shop at Kannon’s. Well, we ate at The Flying Biscuit and then headed to Kannon’s for a little shopping. What I did not tell her was that Bailey’s was also on my list of places to visit. Since we have both been divorced and this would be our 2nd marriages, I wanted her to be able to able to pick out the ring with me. The staff at Bailey’s is so professional and family friendly. We spent about an hour and a half and found what we consider the “perfect” ring. We will both remember this special day at Cameron Village for the rest of our lives.
Hear Elisa M. tell their story.
My mom and dad began telling these same stories, funny thing was, my husband's parents were telling the same stories to their kids.
My story begins many years before I was even born. My mom and my dad used to frequent Cameron Village and most especially “The Frog and Nightgown” (an old night club that used to be at Cameron Village.) Over the years my parents would talk about their experiences there, the famous people they saw sing there, and the many people that they met there over their visits. Many years after “The Frog and Nightgown” closed down, times spent there were still my parents’ favorite stories to tell.
My husband and I met some 20-25 years after this Cameron Village staple closed down. My mom and dad began telling these same stories, funny thing was, my husband’s parents were telling the same stories to their kids. Turns out that my in-laws are one of the many “friends” that my parents met at this Cameron Village hotspot. So now at all family functions we say that our parents created our destiny at Cameron Village and that our love story began long before we were even born. Now we take our children to Cameron Village, tell those same stories, and remind them that this very spot is where our love story began.
My Little Sister's Engagement
I've spent many afternoons in Cameron Village, but one in particular that occurred recently stands out to me.
I’ve spent many afternoons in Cameron Village, but one in particular that occurred recently stands out to me. I shared an afternoon celebrating my little sister’s engagement and Cameron Village was the perfect spot to celebrate! We started at Tupelo Honey Cafe with a delicious lunch, and then transitioned to the bar there where we split a bottle of champagne and toasted. We started coming up with wedding planning ideas right there. To extend our time we headed over to Sugarland where we had gelato and more prosecco. Perfect combination! I love going to Cameron Village with my sister. Our normal stop is Village Draft House, but this time was particularly a special time with her.
Shock and Aww
I thought we were shopping for his Mom's upcoming birthday until he got out of his car and came over to me to tell me...
On a warm day in August, my now husband asked if I wanted to go shopping. We drove separately, because I had a hair appointment, and I followed him to Cameron Village. We parked in the covered lot near Bailey’s. I thought we were shopping for his Mom’s upcoming birthday until he got out of his car and came over to me to tell me we were there for me to pick out something if I would MARRY him! So shocked and caught totally off guard but he proposed in the parking lot in front of Bailey’s! He had already narrowed the diamond choice but he wanted me to pick out a setting. Everyone in Bailey’s was so excited for us! To this day, Bailey’s is still our favorite jewelry shop and we love the personal care we receive there.
My Mom would only let us have dessert if we were in "the clean plate club."
Another wonderful memory of ours from Cameron Village was Balentine’s. I ate there as a child with my family and remember Jimmy the waiter who would always bring my brother and I a dessert if we finished our meal (my Mom would only let us have dessert if we were in “the clean plate club”). Jimmy had worked at the S&W downtown and we knew him from there. He was always so nice and had a great smile.
Later, as a 20-something, I lived on Nichols Drive in the Cameron Village Condos and would always go to Balentine’s for an inexpensive meal. The Balentine’s were friends of ours from church and Johnny and Warren would always make us feel special. Of course a Balentine’s experience would always include stopping by at least a dozen tables because it seemed everyone in Raleigh was there on any given night.
Later I attended family reunions and business dinners downstairs in the conference area and remember the lovely fountains and water features.
I was so sad when they closed. We still go to the K&W in the Village today and much of the same feeling of warmth and community exists there…but there will NEVER be another Balentine’s.
My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I had recently moved into an apartment in Oakwood and were exploring nearby date spots.
My then-boyfriend (now husband) and I had recently moved into an apartment in Oakwood and were exploring nearby date spots. We had plenty to choose from, thanks to our proximity to Cameron Village and downtown! One of our favorites was The Grape, which was a wine bar in the space that is now occupied from Noodles & Co. We affectionately called it “The Q” because the “G” in the sign looked more like a “Q!” The Grape had live jazz most nights and excellent wines that you could order by the glass or in 3 oz. samples. They also offered delicious small plates. It really was the perfect date spot. As much as I love Noodles & Co., whenever I go there, I reminisce about the wonderful date nights I had with my husband at “The Q.”
The twinkling of the lights, the holiday decorations and the mild winter weather provided the perfect backdrop to discuss our hopes for the future.
It was a winter evening in 1998 and I had just seen a show with a friend. We were both in high school and set to graduate in a few months. We didn’t really want to go home, so we decided to take a stroll around Cameron Village. It was quiet. Many of the stores and restaurants had already closed their doors for the evening–a stark comparison to the bustling Cameron Village of today! Still, the twinkling of the lights, the holiday decorations and the mild winter weather provided the perfect backdrop to discuss our hopes for the future. I think this evening stands out in my mind because I lost contact with this friend shortly after graduation. I sincerely hope it’s because she was too busy being awesome!
An Integral Part of My Life
Every Tuesday night my grandmother and grandfather would take my sister, brother and I to Balentine's Cafeteria in the Village for dinner. We always got the same thing, and were always allowed to have apple pie for dessert if we cleaned our plates.
I have so many memories of growing up in Cameron Village. It is hard to pick just one that is dearest to me. My grandparents lived within walking distance of the Village my entire life until last year when they sold their home to downsize. My siblings and I always spent the night with them every Tuesday night, since my grandmother didn’t work on Wednesdays. Every Tuesday night my grandmother and grandfather would take my sister, brother and I to Balentine’s Cafeteria in the Village for dinner. We always got the same thing, and were always allowed to have apple pie for dessert if we cleaned our plates. Most Wednesdays were spent in Talbots Kids picking out poofy dresses and oversized bows to ensure that we would be the best dressed at school and at church on Sundays.
Not much has changed in the past 25 years. As an adult, I still meet my grandmother in the village to shop at least once per month–but instead of Talbots Kids, we do damage at Bevello, Madison and Palm Avenue–and have lunch at Cafe Carolina now that Balentine’s is gone. I have walked many miles around, both the old blue Cameron Village as well as the new and improved Village, and will forever cherish the memories made in both.
Hear Denise tell their story.
We would go to the hobby shop and look at all the trains, models and always left with some new goodies to add to our train layout.
I saw this and just had to respond! I lost my dad in 1997 when he was only 58. I was very much a daddy’s girl. Growing up he loved model trains and we had a room with this great layout of big and little trains. One of my favorite memories of him is when we used to come to Cameron Village and go to the Hobby Shop that used to be there. First we would go to K&W for dinner (and I love that it’s still here today).
We would go to the hobby shop and look at all the trains, models and always left with some new goodies to add to our train layout. Since Baskin Robbins was right next door, we couldn’t leave Cameron Village without getting a couple of ice cream cones…he loved rocky road and I’d get strawberry. Now I get to overlook Cameron Village from my office and its so awesome to have these memories of him. I wish I had a picture at my fingertips of the models, instead here is me and my daddy at about that time frame!
He took a drink of my beer during a song!
I saw Jimmy Buffet twice in the underground. The first time was before he had a band. The second time was the first tour with his new band The Coral Reefers and our table was right by the stage. He took a drink of my beer during a song!
Many memories stick very vividly in my mind of the time I spent there as a child and the only way I can think to do this is to simply list the vivid images and memories that I'll never forget...
Cameron Village is as much in my blood as it is a part of my life, and will forever hold a very special place in my heart. My grandfather, Mr. Claude Pope, was a long time employee to Mr. J.W. York and was part of the original management group at “The Village.” He worked as an accountant until his retirement, but still would “go into work” for Mr. York. My grandmother, Mrs. Margaret Pope, moved to Raleigh from Brunswick, Georgia and started working in the office at The Village after her first husband’s death. This is where she met the man that I know today as my Grandad. Though she recently passed away last month, I spent many days of my youth in The Village with the both of them. Many memories stick very vividly in my mind of the time I spent there as a child and the only way I can think to do this is to simply list the vivid images and memories that I’ll never forget:
-Ballentines Cafeteria (specifically the conveyor belt to leave your tray after your meal)
-The Soda Shop (about where Cantina 18 presently is)
-The friendly lab in The Pinebox that greeted every visitor
-Thalhimer’s Dept. Store was where Harris Teeter currently is on Oberlin
-Big Star Grocery Store (where Rite Aid currently is)
-Lunches at Burger King (approximately where Francesca’s is)
-I remember when there was an Oktoberfest in the parking lot along Clark Ave.
-Buying Dept. 56 Christmas pieces in Past in Presents
-Waldenbooks & Record Bar (later Blockbuster Music)
-Eating Baskin Robbins ice cream and looking at models cars & planes in the window of the Hobby Shop next door.
-When Francis King was the place to go for stationary
-No sports season started without Johnson Lambe, and making visits was even better when you’d stop and Coach (Leigh) Hunter was there to help you.
-I received my first, and only Wake County Library Card from the Cameron Village Library as a child, the same card I still have today, and I can still remember exactly how the children’s section looked before the recent remodel.
-Friday nights was a VHS rental from North American Video, long before Blockbuster stepped on the scene
-A Sunday wasn’t complete without a trip to the Fresh Market
-Who could also forget the blue and white signage and the dome covered sidewalks that we all knew before the look that we know today.
-My years in college and postgrad life saw many nights at Nelsons and Fosters, which funny enough I can remember when the original Fosters in the same location was a hot spot for college kids when I was only a child.
Today, without a doubt my original favorite and mainstay, Great Outdoor, survives. While they had stores in Crabtree and Cary Towne Center that were similar, nothing compared to The Village. Everything about this store is the same as it’s always been. The floor still creaks, the staff is still friendly, and the selections are second to none.
Cameron Village is a special place, and always will be to me. It’s more than just a shopping center, it’s a piece of home.
City of Oaks Marathon
Breathless and aching from climbing up the Clark Ave hill, I was bolstered by the cheering crowds...
Breathless and aching from climbing up the Clark Ave hill, I was bolstered by the cheering crowds who gathered in the Cameron Village parking lots to support the City of Oaks Marathon runners. After two years of running the half marathon, I now rely on the Cameron Village crowds to push me through the hardest part of the race. It was such a great experience, and helped me earn a personal best time on the course!