Kirke Hooper Hazelton has lived in Wake Forest since 1996 and says the merchants in historic downtown are like her extended family.
“We know them by name. They’ve watched my kids grow up,” says Kirke, mom to Nate, 16, and Hannah Kirke, 13.
She met her husband Christopher `at The Gatehouse, a couple miles from downtown, in 2014, and got married at The Sutherland in 2015. They live in Tyler’s Run, just one mile from historic downtown and often walk downtown for exercise and to shop, dine or enjoy a beer.
Kirke works as the senior branch office administrator for the Jim Staples office of Edward Jones in Youngsville. Chris is the high voltage supervisor for the energy services department at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“Wake Forest is like old downtown U.S.A.,” says Chris, who is father to Brittney, 24, and Timothy, 22. “A lot of towns don’t have this anymore. Unique Mom and Pop shops that sell a little bit of everything.”
The Hazeltons are big believers in shopping local. When you ask the downtown Wake Forest merchants to name their most loyal local shoppers, most mention Kirke and Chris.
“It breaks our hearts to travel through towns with old, empty buildings and no activity,” says Kirke. “We don’t want to see that happen here. If we don’t support local downtown businesses, we could lose that vibe.”
When asked what is their favorite purchase from a downtown store, Chris says his Traeger grill from B&W Hardware. Kirke mentions the 1856 cotton basket made out of oak from Franklin County, a rare antique Chris found at For Old Time’s Sake and bought for her as a Mother’s Day gift.
Kirke says, “To me, Wake Forest vibe is a cool combination of history with a modern twist. It’s very trendy, very current, but still has that small town historic charm that very few towns can accomplish. Wake Forest nails it!”