Iconic Chapel Hill store Southern Season to close after 40+ years

Orange County News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — A popular staple in Chapel Hill is closing its doors for good.

The owner of Southern Season, which has been in business for 44 years at University Place, announced that they will be closing their doors early next year.

The popular store is known for its unique gifts and gourmet food from all over the world.

The owner would not talk on camera, but in a press release, he said that it takes more money to operate than they can currently commit to spending.  

Some customers CBS 17 spoke with said they were sad to see the iconic store go.

“I’ve lived in Chapel Hill for over 30 years, I remember when Southern Season was thriving,” said James Henderson, a customer from Chapel Hill. “It’s going to seem weird without Southern Season in Chapel Hill, they have been an icon forever. I think the internet is totally to blame. Everyone wants to sit at home and shop online.”

Katrijn Gielens, a professor of marketing at UNC-CH, said, unfortunately, more and more brick and mortar stores are closing as more consumers turn to the internet to do their shopping.

“It’s part of a much broader trend,” Gielens said. “Actually we encounter stories about store closures almost every day.”

Gielens said that for brick and mortar stores to make it, they have to think outside the box. She said that includes removing long check out lines and making their products readily available online.

“You have to really figure out, what is it you can do completely different form many of them? What is it you can do to make people come to me? Ultimately that is the only question, if you want to survive,” Gielens said.

The decision to close comes three years after the store filed for bankruptcy.

The store will close its doors in early 2020.

Chapel Hill institution Southern Season will be closing in early 2020 after 44 years in business, according to a press release from Calvert Retail.

The iconic store, located at University Place, will still operate online, according to Calvert Retail owner Eric Brinsfield.

Brinsfield said in the release that:

Southern Season is an incredible business, and I firmly believe that the concept is part of the future of retail; However, it requires a more robust organization and more capital than I can provide as a small business owner. I have made the difficult decision to close the Chapel Hill retail store and focus on our online business from our facility in Graham, NC.”

The store’s gift baskets and packaged food items will remain available for purchase through Southern Season’s online store.

Southern Season (Photo: Mr. Granger via Wikimedia Commons)

Calvert Retail operates other stores, including Kitchen & Company in Asheville. That store will remain open.

According to the release, Calvert Retail “acquired the assets of Southern Season in August 2016. Prior to being acquired by Calvert Retail, Southern Season had been operating under the protection of the Federal Bankruptcy Code.”

“For 44 years, the business has played an outsized role in the Triangle’s food community. This is no doubt because of the incredible people of Southern Season who continue to amaze me every day,” said Brinsfield. “We really want to thank the people of Orange, Chatham, Durham and beyond for all of the great years that we had in Chapel Hill.”

Brinsfield said in the release that customers can expect “some incredible values as we wind down the store over the next few months.”

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