I don’t know about you, but I prefer things that are one of a kind. I do things my own way instead of following the trends and have no desire to keep up with anyone. Especially the Joneses. That’s why I found Cleveland County to be the absolute perfect place to shop. The entire Shelby and Kings Mountain areas are brimming with creativity. Especially with their variety of art galleries and shoppes. Get ready to discover plenty of unique, unlike-anything-you’ve-ever-seen-before, finds just waiting to be cherished.
The Cleveland County Arts Council:
111 S Washington St, Shelby, NC
The Arts Council is the home for arts in Cleveland County and it’s located in Uptown Shelby. You’ll find it in the historic post office building right on the square. Beyond providing a variety of exhibits, classes, and performing arts year-round, it offers an amazing gallery for shoppers like me.
One of the best things about a gallery like this is that you get to see things that you don’t at big box stores. The products are just more creative, imaginative. Not to mention, each comes with their own story. You could look at each basket for sale and hear a little bit of the story about how that craft was handed down through generations. Bracelets weren’t just beautiful; they are made from unconventional materials –circuit boards and bottle caps. You’ll definitely not be walking into a room wearing the same piece as anyone else. And, isn’t that the point? To be unique? To stand out?
Every shelf is filled with unique items and gifts made from local and regional artists. One-of-a-kind treasures in all mediums from pottery and paintings, to soaps, and scarves. I found the most perfect painting in a shade of green I thought only existed in my living room rug. Score!
But the absolute best thing about this place? With every purchase, you are supporting local artists, helping fund the arts council and you get to take home a one-of-a-kind piece of art. It’s a win-win-win.
The Southeastern Arts Society:
301 N Piedmont Ave, Kings Mountain, NC
The Southeastern Arts Society is just a short drive away in neighboring Kings Mountain and has something for everyone –from the budding artist to someone looking for the perfect “I don’t know what” to complete their guest bedroom.
I found my happy place in the gift shop. It features the work of over 75 regional artists. There are stained-glass flowers that capture the sun and beam a spectrum light across the room. There are hand-blown glass orbs that offer a Rorschach of color and remind you the holidays are just around the corner. There are wooden bowls, carved out from century old trees, begging to be the star attraction on your new dining room table. This place has just what you wanted, even if you didn’t know that you wanted it.
If you are feeling inspired, you can even create your own art. Pick up a brush and let out your inner Picasso. Or find a seat at the potter’s wheel and let your hands create a vase out of a lump of clay.
I went in to find a gift for a friend. I ended up walking out with a hand-hammered copper bracelet for my friend and a few stained-glass owls to adorn my front porch. I figured I deserved a little something, too. Shopping is hard work!
The Buffalo Creek Gallery:
104 E Warren St, Shelby, NC
Just when I thought I had purchased all of the uniqueness Cleveland County had to offer, I stumbled upon yet another great store, Buffalo Creek Gallery.
Located in the heart of historic Uptown Shelby, this quaint, little store is actually a co-op art gallery and gift shop. Artists come together to sell their work and support the shop.
Every piece of pottery, every piece of jewelry, every photograph and all the other mediums represented are all original to the area. I dare you to walk through the doors and not feel instantly creative.
I found a bright green platter and the cutest orange bowl in the shape of a fish. It’s the perfect amount of cute while also being able to hold copious amount of chips and guacamole. Beautiful and functional.
That’s what I found best represents this gallery. It has the perfect mix of items that look great and can actually be used. They are not just pretty to look at like so many other items out there.
The piece I purchased was made by a potter who lives just outside Shelby. I get to support him though my purchase and have a great conversation piece for my dinner party next week.
So, when it comes to shopping, avoid the overcrowded parking lots and big box stores. Instead, head over to Cleveland County for some one-of-a-kind finds. You’ll leave with a carload of goodies, a few stories to share and a little inspiration to pass on.
Discover even more unique places to shop at