How many times have you found yourself – this past year alone- in a conversation about shopping in Chapel Hill?

Was it when the library might move into Dillard’s? “Is Dillard’s closing? Where will we shop for makeup? And that black skirt?”

Was it when Tanger Outlets built a monument to sale shopping and started filling the sales tax coffers of Alamance County?

Was it when Borders announced it was closing and leaving empty one of our biggest storefronts?

Just today in Southern Season a friend looked wistfully out toward the rest of University Mall and asked “Don’t you wish there was more in there?”*

And now, with Chapel Hill’s sign rules under discussion and Orange County again looking for a tax increase to help fund economic development, black skirts, makeup, books and outlets are symbols of what we here in “Chapelboro” often go elsewhere to get.

As we all know this is now (and has been) something of a question of what do we want in our community? And so, I’m asking you.

From the perch of this column, I want you to tell me. I want the big picture answers about community services and how we pay for them.

I also want you to tell me what stores or products you wish you didn’t have to drive (or log on) to find. Send me just one line if you like: “I wish we had a _____” or, I don’t want to have to go to Southpoint to _______.”

You may comment below or write to me at

And finally, as a good shopper myself, I need scouts. If you are opening a business or, sadly, closing one, please send me a note. I’ll sound the trumpets for you and put your news right here. Commercial real estate agents, write to me as soon as that lease is signed!

Author’s disclosure: since I came clean as a good shopper, you may think I have a bias. I do wish every time I went to Target my tax dollars stayed home so you may be right. However, I love living in Chapel Hill and appreciate that many of the reasons are linked to a longtime determination to keep this community unique. So folks, I really am a SAVVY spender!

*See next column for more on University Mall