Far Away Places Seem Closer at Down Island Traders

Posted Dec 12th, 2018 in Retail Roundup


More than 30 years ago, cold winters in the northeast sent Paul Cowan, the owner of Down Island Traders in Downtown Wilmington, to the Caribbean and beyond in search of warmer weather. He explored places like Fiji, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Mexico, Thailand, Bali and more.

On his travels, he discovered t-shirts hand-made by Islanders in Bali. The t-shirts had unique prints and designs which he thought would appeal to Americans so he had some shipped back home. They sold fast so he ordered more. Before long, Paul was trading regularly and running his business out of a barn in Pennsylvania where he lived. He continued to grow his business and expand his product line until his lease expired and he had to find new premises.

Paul had visited North Carolina on a number of occasions and decided to take a leap of faith when he came across a property on North Front Street in Downtown Wilmington that had been empty for over 20 years. At the time, the central business district was undergoing a revival so Paul decided to put down roots and bring his travel-inspired products to Wilmington.

Almost three decades later, you can still buy goods from exotic places at Down Island Traders. In that time, the Downtown shopping district has grown to encompass over 200 merchants, so Paul has added an eclectic mix of decorative items and unique gifts to stay competitive.

You can find pictures, household decor, beach-themed products, Holiday ornaments and more alongside exotic masks, hand-carved wooden sculptures and jewelry at Down Island Traders. Explore this island oasis at your leisure.


Hours: Tues – Sat, 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

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Down Island Traders
111 S Front St
Wilmington, NC 28401

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