Where can you find a beautiful antiques store, two trendy clothing boutiques, a British food and gift emporium, an idea-filled chalk paint studio and Georgia’s second-largest elm tree — all within easy walking distance of each other? Give up? All these and more are located in friendly, downtown, historic Norcross, Georgia. There’s even a picturesque park with a stage and gazebo that’s reminiscent of the fictional Stars Hollow. We kept waiting for Kirk to show up somewhere, but he didn’t. (All you Gilmore Girls fans are smiling right now, aren’t you?)
As you walk down Peachtree Street near the old train depot, you can almost imagine what a bustling place it was when cotton was king. According to the Norcross website (norcrossga.net), “Located in the long white building next to City Hall, the Old Cotton Gin was once owned by the Summerour family. Norcross farmer Homer Summerour became well-known nationwide in the early 1900s for developing a special, more productive variety of cotton. The seeds were so famous that people from across the country could request a sample just by writing a letter addressed with nothing more than ‘Cotton Seed Man’ and ‘Georgia’ on the envelope. The orders were filled by the Summerour Gin which still stands next to City Hall.”
Whether you walk or drive around downtown, be sure to check out the gigantic American Elm tree in Betty Mauldin Park, on the corner of Jones and Lawrenceville Streets, adjacent to City Hall. Billed as the second-largest elm in Georgia, its canopy is over 100 feet wide. It is truly a jaw-dropping sight.
Stop by the Norcross Welcome Center and Museum to see an incredible example of a community garden. For about $100 a year, local residents can lease an approximately 4′ X 8′ raised-bed garden plot, complete with soil. These weren’t ordinary garden beds. Mortared stone walls surround each one. Cool weather plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, green peas, rosemary and lettuce were ready for harvesting when we visited. It will make you want a raised garden bed to grow your own vegetables. There was even a trellis for growing grapes. Whoever designed this space, deserves an award. There’s also an outdoor cooking area, complete with a Big Green Egg and a picnic area. Relax in an Adirondack chair and just admire the pleasing design. When you’re ready to see more, go inside and chat with the staff for more helpful information regarding things to see and do in the area.
Norcross Welcome Center and Museum, 189 Lawrenceville St., Norcross, GA 30071. Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Plan your visit for a weekday so you can have lunch at the Bleu House Cafe because it’s closed on Saturday and Sunday. Many of the stores in downtown Norcross are closed on Sunday as well. Go when the weather is nice because there will be quite a bit of walking.
As you stroll up South Peachtree Street, from Jones Street, notice the small historic marker mounted at about eye level on the front of almost every shop. These markers state the name and type of the original business which was located in that space. Drug store, car dealership, law office and barber shop were just some of the signs we saw.
Stop by fashion-forward Glitter G for vintage-inspired women’s clothes and eclectic accessories at reasonable prices. Some of the accessories are produced by local artisans.
Glitter G, 27 S. Peachtree St.; Hours: Monday – Saturday 10-8; Sunday 12-6. glitterg.com
Next, walk on a few doors to A Taste of Britain. Anglophiles will enjoy this specialty shop, chock-full of gifts and foods from across the pond. Fragrant teas, porcelain teapots, dainty tea cups and just about any style of tea cozy imaginable can be found inside. Teatime isn’t complete without shortbread cookies, clotted cream and lemon curd, so they have all those things too and just about anything else you could want with a proper English Tea. They even have haggis in a can.
A Taste of Britain, 73 S. Peachtree St.; Hours: Monday-Saturday 10-6; closed Sunday. tasteofbritain.com
Before you start speaking with a British accent, make your way on up the sidewalk and cross the street. On the corner, you’ll see Antique Traditions. Even if antiques aren’t your cup of tea, go inside. It’s like three stores in one, with antiques, gifts and home accessories. Near the front, there are lots of lovely antiques, head toward the rear and you’ll find, interspersed with the antiques, pretty melamine dinnerware that looks like porcelain dishes, fragrant candles, soaps, precious baby gifts, sweet bridal gifts, stylish cashmere ponchos and lots, lots more. It’s all well-organized and beautifully arranged. Definitely an ooh and ah-inducing place.
Antique Traditions, 109 S. Peachtree St.; Hours Monday-Saturday 10:30-6:00; May – December open until 8PM Friday and Saturday.
Once you’ve made your purchases, because we know you bought something, continue up the sidewalk to Chalk It Up for inspiration and supplies for your next DIY project. The furniture pieces on display are lovely examples of what chalk paint, in the right hands, can do for an old piece of furniture. Chalk paint has come a long way in the past few years and the variety of styles that can be achieved are impressive. From farmhouse to contemporary, chalk paint can complement almost any decor. Chalk It Up stocks the full line of Annie Sloan paints, brushes and fabrics. They also sell unique home accessories. Visit their website for a schedule of upcoming workshops.
Chalk It Up, 127 S. Peachtree St.; Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday
10:30 to 5:30; Tuesday and Thursday – 10:30 to 6:00.
Last, but certainly not least, on our downtown Norcross shopping tour, is the unique Farmhouse 17. This well-curated boutique features trendy clothing, vintage items, home decor, handcrafted jewelry and gifts. Be sure to check out the one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. The warm, knowledgeable staff will help you pick just the right thing.
Farmhouse 17, 141 S. Peachtree St.; Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:30-5:30. farmhouse-17.com
It’s so refreshing to visit a small downtown area with a variety of vibrant restaurants, boutiques and specialty stores. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful. We hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did.
When you go to Norcross, be sure to tell them you saw it on Pickypeaches.com
Until next time, Love and Peaches!