Sure, you might visit Eden — where the Dan and Smith rivers meet — to take a stroll along the Smith River Greenway and see the sunflowers this summer, or
Sure, you might visit Eden — where the Dan and Smith rivers meet — to take a stroll along the Smith River Greenway and see the sunflowers this summer, or to explore the Dan River or Matrimony Creek nature trails — the latter of which ends at a spectacular waterfall. But after your morning adventures in the great outdoors, you’ll want to head over to Uptown to grab lunch and a cold drink … and to browse cute local shops. You earned it!
In a newly refreshed Uptown Eden, a former hotel, bank, and saloon have been transformed into modern apartments, restaurants, and retailers. And at the heart of it all is Washington Street: Explore the local businesses, from shops to lunch stops — and meet the friendly business owners — who’ve turned the area into a welcoming destination.
Southern Julep Boutique: Julie Stanton was a high school senior when she launched a popular pop-up shop with her dad, Philip (Julie plus Philip equals “Julep”!). “At events, people kept asking if we had a store,” she recalls.
In 2019, the father-daughter team rented a space in Uptown and opened a true boutique to bring big style to the small town. Today, at Southern Julep, they stock pieces like flowing floral dresses and colorful fringe earrings, cute graphic T-shirts, and tie-dye canvas sneakers. The items are sold both in the store and online, and have proved popular with women of all ages.
“We call the style Southern-contemporary,” Stanton says. “We want to sell clothing that makes women feel beautiful, comfortable, and confident.”
That Little Pork Shop: You’d expect a barbecue restaurant called That Little Pork Shop to serve amazing pulled pork — and this Uptown spot delivers — but pulled pork isn’t the only thing on the menu. Other creative dishes — think pork nachos, pork-filled dumplings, and pork hush puppies — also earn rave reviews. Follow the smell of barbecue to this little joint on a side street.
Sophisticated Rubbish: The old adage “someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure” takes on new meaning at the shop. Owner Janis Wade scours flea markets, estate sales, and retail markets for the best vintage, farmhouse, and shabby chic finds. The shop is stocked with an ever-changing selection of new and vintage baskets, pillows, glassware, candles and more. Just make sure to take your time as you browse.
The Front Porch: Owner Gloria Hall opened this clothing boutique in 1982, and it’s become a staple for locals searching for unique clothing and accessories. “It’s classic apparel with a twist,” explains co-owner Mel Hall.
Plus, in addition to dresses, sweaters, scarves, and necklaces, the Halls stock wine and gourmet goodies with an emphasis on North Carolina products. The store often hosts wine tasting events that are as much about visiting on “the front porch” as experiencing new vintages.
Hive Eden: This cozy bar in the heart of Uptown has been a popular hangout since it opened in 2020.
“We wanted to be a place where the community gathers for a drink and decompresses at the end of the day,” explains owner Leslie Wyatt. “We have a lot of die-hard regulars.”
Wyatt designed a menu that features small bites, like soft pretzels, pizza, hummus, and paninis. But the charcuterie boards are the most popular item on the menu, which Wyatt attributes to the endless ability to customize the selection of meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, nuts, and sauces.
Thanks to the family beekeeping business, honey is prominent on the menu: it’s an option for charcuterie boards, is served with donut chips, and is featured on the honey fruit platter. Honey beers and mead, a traditional honey wine, are also popular.
Roasted Bean: When Michael Carpino realized Uptown Eden had no place to go for a cup of coffee or tea to start the morning (and push through the afternoon slump!), he took it upon himself to change that, and opened this cute café.
“It’s just 300 square feet, but it’s a hot spot,” he says.
Order a specialty coffee — on a warm day, we like the iced salted caramel mocha — pick up a pastry, and grab a seat in front of the oversized windows or at a table along the sidewalk to take in the scene on Washington Street as you sip.
The Workshop: As the co-owners of Shiloh Shop & Co., Laura Easter and Ashley Peoples hosted semi-annual outdoor markets where local artisans sold their work.
After hearing countless customers proclaim, “I wish I knew how to do that,” the duo decided to launch The Workshop, a downtown maker space that hosts hands-on classes to teach skills ranging from finger knitting to cookie decorating to crafting painted door hangers.
Preppy Pirate Outfitters: This coastal-themed clothing brand gives off some serious vacation vibes. Chris Nelson launched the Preppy Pirate brand in 2016 and the graphic T-shirts, hoodies, shorts, and hats were an instant hit.
“We cater to the beach theme,” Nelson says. “It’s all about fishing and surfing and beach living.”
Preppy Pirate Outfitters is also the official brand of beach music, making merchandise for beach music bands like Jim Quick & Coastline, The Tams, and The Catalinas, as well as country artists like Shenandoah. Nelson even built a stage in the retail shop to host concerts for customers.