Cary, NC — On a Friday near the end of October, I took my first walk around downtown Apex.
I was sent on a mission to put together a story documenting my time there, so I arrived on Salem Street with my camera strap around my neck, open to all photo opportunities and discoveries ahead of me. What I found was a charming area with lots of variety and nods to both the history of Apex and the newer growth making its way onto the block.
I mosied in and out of stores, taking a look at fall decor, antiques and local novelties. I enjoyed my time observing from different benches and cafe windows as waves of families and friends, strangers and neighbors came and went.
A few things I noticed were that many businesses like to make creative use of sandwich board signs, filling them with some pretty funny quips and kind messages. My favorite was probably the one that read, “All of the dust and cobwebs in my house just became decorations” which was on display leading up to Halloween.
An odd impression I wasn’t expecting from Salem Street was seeing what, in my opinion, was the oddest looking location I’ve ever seen for a Pizza Hut. At first glance, it looked like the outside of a jewelry store.
Walking from one end of Salem Street to the other, another standout impression was the great, savory smells from downtown restaurants like Salem Street Pub where outdoor tables were filled with patrons.
A few sweeter smells wafted around too, most likely from FRESH Local Ice Cream, a familiar smell for me as I live near the location in Downtown Cary. It was outside this ice cream shop that I saw many kiddos enjoying the company of a puppy who looked to be taking its first walk down Salem Street, too.
Toward the end of my photo adventure, I stopped into a coffee shop, mostly because I loved the name — Common Grounds. It gave off a positive vibe so I went in and found a barista who filled the silence as I considered what to order with several puns. She said things like, “I understand, there’s a latté options” and “so matcha to choose from.” As a fellow pun lover, that encounter was awesome, and so was the coffee!
From there, I stepped out of the Salem Street Promenade building and took in the unique architecture and slew of shops that are in the Tobacco & Mule Exchange Building. It was a neat thing to see history combined with newer concepts I hadn’t seen before, like a combination barbershop and lounge right next to a new incoming development called Highline.
With trains coming in and out of The Depot and friendly faces walking up and down Salem Street, the whole experience—though unique in its own right—did remind me quite a bit of what I love about Downtown Cary and I’ll surely be back very soon.
Story and photos by Ashley Kairis.
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