Invigorate downtowns: We will make WSM stores even more vibrant and fun, and attract more people downtown. We will open new downtown stores at a similar pace to the three units we opened last decade.
New patio at Hillsborough store
Visit our Hillsborough store and enjoy the new brick patio out front, which makes the outdoor space more usable and attractive. The improved space provides the opportunity for outdoor dining and more events. The next step is to plant an additional shade tree, install outdoor planters, and add more outdoor furniture. Underneath the patio is a water catchment system that stores rainwater to use for irrigation for the landscape and to provide water for our outdoor plant sales.
Outdoor improvements coming to Southern Village store
The wide sidewalks in front of Weaver Street Market in Southern Village are a great asset and with a few adjustments can be transformed into a vibrant outdoor space. Working with Southern Village, we have developed a plan that will be considered by the Chapel Hill Town Council at a public hearing on November 16. The proposed improvements have three parts:
1. Create an outdoor seating area along the street edge for dining and gathering. This involves removing two of the angled parking spaces, extending the brick sidewalk, and planting an additional tree for shade cover.
2. Extend the raised portion of the sidewalk around the corner and cover it with a permanent canopy. This will take advantage of the morning sun and extend outdoor activity to a second street.
3. Enclose a portion of the sidewalk along the front the building. This will be used to showcase produce and create a farmers market feel with windows facing the street and patio.
Together, these improvements can create a smaller version of what we have in Carrboro: an active outdoor space that is used throughout the day and provides a center for the community. The great thing is that the space is already there—it just needs a few adjustments to make it more useful!
Our most recent store in Hillsborough has transformed that downtown into a vibrant shopping and gathering place. It has increased Weaver Street’s local and healthy food impact by 50%, brought 10,000 shoppers downtown each week, and helped downtown Hillsborough receive state-wide recognition.
The Hillsborough store’s impact demonstrates the difference that having a new WSM store in the center of a community can make. Each year, our existing stores create an incremental community impact, but our impact leaps forward with the addition of a new store.
In addition to expanding our community impact, additional stores benefit current owners and shoppers. They provide volume of sale, which lowers costs, provides better value, and helps us withstand competition from large chains.
WSM wants to open three additional stores in the next six years. This is a familiar pace as we opened the Southern Village and Hillsborough stores and the Food House over a six-year period. We haven’t opened any new stores in the last few years, but we have put that time to good use improving our infrastructure and systems and assisting new downtown co-ops in Burlington, Greensboro, and Durham, including supplying them with food from our Food House.
This fall we will be talking to community leaders who are interested in having a WSM store in their downtown. Our process for new stores involves a deep partnership with the new community, including joint planning and sharing of costs. This process ensures the best possible store that is designed around meeting community needs.