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Create Something Amazing at Spartanburg County Public Library’s SPARK Space

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Spartanburg County Public Library offers some really cool crafting resources you may not be aware of yet. Prepare to be amazed as local Mom Melanie shares The Spark Space with us. This unbelievable resource offers tons of classes and machines any crafter out there is going to want to know about!

Have you ever wished you owned one of those cool home die-cutting machines you see used  all over Pinterest? Or have you wished you had an embroidery machine, so you could monogram your entire wardrobe? Well, maybe not your entire wardrobe… just most of it.

Well guess what? All those items and more can be yours to use for the low, low cost of a library card!

What is The Spark Space?

Teenage and adult patrons of the Spartanburg library system are lucky, because they have access to something called The Spark Space. This unique program gives patrons the opportunity to learn about and use die-cutting machines, embroidery machines, sewing machines, a green screen studio, VHS transfer system, and more! Not to mention several 3D printers that are available to produce small items for only a small fee. This program also offers arts and crafts classes that only cost a small registration fee or are completely free.  A few of the classes offered include canvas painting, tile mosaic art, tie dye, knitting and floral design, just to name a few. Most of these classes teach the same things that, away from the library a person would pay ten times more to learn, with the added benefit that the library always supplies the needed materials, so all you need to do is show up.

Christina Fuller-Gregory, Makerspace Librarian at the headquarters library, had this to share with me about the facility – “The Spark Space specializes in both high-tech and low-tech making. We wanted to build a space where both the crafty DIY-er and the techie have equipment and tools that they can use to create. We support making by offering a monthly programs in a variety of interest areas (Photoshop, Illustrator, sewing classes, How-Tuesdays, etc.). While we are an age restricted space (12 and older) we offer programs for our young makers called Mini Makers Morning Out. These programs have an emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) but we use creativity to make learning fun.”

resources for crafts The Spark Space Spartanburg Library

Take The Spark Space home

If you don’t have the time to craft away from  home, but would still like to give a new hobby a test drive, the make-away kits are just for you. These recently introduced kits include different kinds of crafting sets that can be checked out for 28 days and used at home. The kits include various things like a wood whittling kit, jewelry making, knitting, crochet, rainbow loom & more. The make-away kits also include cake baking sets with character pans. This is especially nice, because purchasing these pans is usually pricey and they are seldom used more than once. Now you can just borrow one from the library. These kits can also be transferred for loan from your local branch library.

What does The Spark Space offer?

Because your time maybe be limited, depending on which crafting equipment you want to use, it’s best to go in knowing what to expect. Any of the appropriate design files you find online at home, can be loaded to a flash drive for use with the different machines once you get to the library.

3D printing

There are 3 makerbot replicator 3D printers in the maker space. These machines print from a design that you can choose from websites like  www.thingverse.com or design your own on www.tinkercad.com . 3D printing fees are currently $1 an hour and that covers the plastic filament used.  There is currently a limit of 4 hours print time per item, which limits your project to a small figurine size item.

Cricut cutting machine

With so many different things that can be made with the help of a die cutter, this is an exciting item that has been made available for the public to use free of charge. Patrons only need to supply their own cutting material. There is a selection of designs available, but I suggest going in already having a plan, so that you can be sure to have all the vinyl or paper colors you’ll need when you get there.  A search on Pinterest for “free SVG files” will turn up an infinite selection of the compatible files. One of my favorite sources of free SVG files can be found here. The library also has a selection of card stock for purchase ranging .20 – .30 a sheet.

Embroidery machine

The cost of this type machine can be cost prohibitive, keeping most people from having access to their own personal one. It is also a great test drive opportunity for someone who might be thinking about investing in one. The sessions are limited to 90 minutes, and for that reason I suggest going in knowing what you want to make. With a design in hand, you can sit down at the machine and leave 90 minutes later with a completed monogram. Several things will determine how long it takes to complete a design, including the number of thread color changes. Keeping it simple for you first design, is preferable. You’ll need a PES file to use; here is my favorite source. Free PES files are less common, but some sites like Boutique Fonts post a new downloadable free file every week. Etsy is also a good source for this type file, if you are looking for something specific. Aside from a plan, you’ll need to bring the item you wish to embroider on and patience. The session fee is currently $3.50 for 90 minutes.

Sewing machines

Sewing classes are frequently offered and include all the needed materials. If you want to use the machines on your own, there is no cost and you only need to supply the fabric and pattern. A limited supply of thread colors is available and you can purchase a bobbin for .50 if needed.

VHS conversion

For those who have boxes of family home movies on VHS, this is a great way to convert them without spending a fortune. There is no fee, you just need to supply the flash drive or DVD to store the digital version on. If you forget to bring them, both are available for purchase in The Spark Space. Flash Drive – $10 , DVD – $2

Check out The Spark Space for yourself

There are so many more things to explore in The Spark Space than are mentioned here! A full list of the equipment in The Spark Space can be found online.

151 S. Church Street, Spartanburg

Monday – Thursday 9 am- 8:45 pm
Friday 9 am – 5 pm
1st and 2nd weekend of the month: Saturday 9 am – 5:45 pm & Sunday 1:30 pm – 5:45 pm

I hope this inspires you to take advantage of this truly unique resource we have in Spartanburg. Don’t worry if all of it sounds intimidating, there is a patient, knowledgeable team at the library just waiting to show you all of the crafting fun you’ve been missing.

Have you taken advantage of The Spark Space?

Everything You Need to Know about Movies in the Park

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Summer in Spartanburg means free movies and we’ve got all the details!  Movies in the Park shows family-friendly movies for free in Barnet Park each month during the summer.

Please note that information for Movies in the Park at Barnet Park has not been updated for 2022. 

Drumroll, please, for this year’s Movies in the Park lineup!

June 16 – Despicable Me 3

July 21 – Peter Rabbit

August 18 – Paddington 2

As evening sets and the sun goes down, families are invited to join in the fun each month of the summer. This event is sponsored by Hub City Church and many other local businesses. Even though it is hosted by a local church, this event is just a movie and giveaways – no sermon included.

Hub City Church shows these movies free of charge in downtown Spartanburg simply because they love the city and want to make it “a better place to live and play.” They hope everyone in Spartanburg will attend.

Movies in the Park Spartanburg

What to bring

While you do not need to bring any money, you probably want to bring something for your family to sit on to watch the film. My family brings a large blanket. Since these movies are shown in Barnet Park, please remember that no smoking or pets are allowed according to park rules.

This year popcorn and soft drinks will not be provided, so you should plan to bring your own snacks and drinks.

Where is it located?

Conveniently located in Barnet Park, parking is easy to find in the parking garages near the area. We tend to park in the St. John Street Parking Garage by Chapman Cultural Center.

When the movies show

The movies will start once it is dark enough to see them on the screen, so the times change over the summer. In addition, the weather plays its role. For more information about specific times for the films, please contact 864-576-4111 that week. My family tends to head to the park around 7:30 pm for these films.

The best way to stay informed and up to date with Movies in the Park is to follow their Facebook page. Fans are encouraged to follow along and share their posts to get the information out into our community.

Gather up your friends and family and head to the movies – for free! In addition to watching a great show, you will have a great time celebrating our community.

Read our complete list of Outdoor Movies in Spartanburg this summer.

Does your family love Movies in the Park as much as mine does?

Don’t Miss Spartanburg Philharmonic’s Kid-Friendly Performance

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Thank you to Spartanburg Philharmonic for sponsoring this giveaway (note: giveaway over).

This performance by Spartanburg Philharmonic is the perfect way to introduce your kids to the orchestra.

Imagine the flash of light sabers as they clash together while the triumphant sound of the iconic Star Wars theme plays on.  Now, are you thinking you’re at the movies? You would be wrong. You’re actually at the Spartanburg Philharmonic’s The Music of John Williams Concert.

Lightsabers at an orchestra?

Yes, you got it. The Spartanburg Philharmonic is performing the music of John Williams, from Indiana Jones, to Star Wars and Harry Potter.  Better yet, they are performing it in a super kid-friendly concert where costumes, lightsabers, wands, lassos and the like are not only welcome, they are encouraged!

What could be better, you ask?  We have an exclusive discount code to help you get your tickets for an even better price. Use discount code Kid20 for 20% of tickets, Sunday only.


The Music of John Williams

The Spartanburg Philharmonic will perform The Music of John Williams on April 14th and 15th at Twichell Auditorium on the beautiful campus of Converse College. The program will consist of some of John William’s most memorable music, including music from Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

The Music of John Williams

Saturday, April 14th at 7pm


Sunday, April 15th at 2pm

Twichell Auditorium, Converse College


A 5 time Academy Award winner, John Williams has composed more than 100 film scores. He is known for the use of the full symphony orchestra in his scores, bringing the sounds of the symphony well beyond the concert hall and into theaters, cinemas and homes around the world.

Wear Your Costumes and Take a Selfie with Star Wars Characters

The Spartanburg Philharmonic will be selling, red, green and blue lightsabers in the lobby before the performance. They’ll be pre-loaded with fresh batteries and ready for adventure when the program begins. Yes, the lightsabers are welcome IN the auditorium, throughout the performance. Harry Potter glasses will also be available for purchase.

Bonus: Musicians will also be dressed up and Star Wars characters will be hanging out in the lobby for high-fives and pictures.

5 Tips and Tricks

  1. Performances are April 14 at 7 pm and April 15 at 2 pm.  The 2 pm performance was added especially with the nap times of young children in mind.
  2. It can be hard to judge when a child is old enough to attend something like an orchestra concert. This performance will have an intermission, so children will have an opportunity to get up and stretch their legs. And due to the nature of the event, seat wiggling (and light saber dancing) is completely acceptable. So, if your child can sit for a movie, they’ll probably be just fine here.
  3. One little thing to think about is how your child does with costumed characters.  Will he or she be frightened if they catch a glimpse of Darth Vador? Maybe a little talk about characters and costumes before you hop into the car will set your child’s mind at ease.
  4. Shorter children may prefer a seat in the balcony where they can get more of a birds-eye view of the performance, rather than trying to peek around the backs of heads on the bottom level.  However, you should note that the auditorium does not have an elevator going to the balcony. So if stairs are a problem, you’ll need a ground floor seat.
  5. Please note that food and drinks are not allowed in the auditorium. If your child is thirsty you may offer them a drink in the lobby area of the auditorium.
  6. You can pre-order tickets online. Tickets for youth under 22 are 50% off, making tickets for youth $13-23 and adults $26-46.  Groups of 10 or more can receive 10% off when booking advance. Tickets will also be available at the door.

The Giveaway – Closed

One lucky Kidding Around reader will win 4 tickets to see Spartanburg Philharmonic’s The Music of John Williams. Valid on the April 15, 2018, 2 pm performance.

This giveaway starts now and ends on April 4, 2018 at midnight.

  • You must be 18 or older and live in the USA to enter this giveaway.
  • You must use a valid email address to enter this giveaway.
  • One entry per person per day.
  • We will contact the winner via the email address provided within three [3] days of the giveaway ending. The winner will have three [3] days (72 hours) to respond via email. If the winner does not respond within the three [3] days (72 hours), the prize will be forfeited and another winner chosen. Directions for claiming the prize will be given via email. A valid photo ID and/or mailing address may be required.
  • For a complete list of Kidding Around Greenville SC’s giveaway policies and terms and conditions, see the Kidding Around Greenville SC policy page. By entering this giveaway, you agree to comply with Kidding Around Greenville SC’s terms and conditions.

Have your kids ever attended an orchestra concert before?

This Local Trail Has Beaver Dams, Water Bird Observation Areas, and More!

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The Cottonwood Trail is the perfect space for your children to experience the seasons in the Upstate.  In the summer, lush and green in the summer, crackling with autumnal colors in the fall, sparse and atmospheric in the winter, and brimming with new life in the spring, your children can observe the seasonal changes while exploring the great outdoors.

The Cottonwood Trail in Spartanburg, SC

Named after the majestic Cottonwood trees dot the landscape, The Cottonwood Trail Preserve is maintained by the Spartanburg Area Conservancy. 

Located on the Eastside of Spartanburg, the 3.6-mile trail is perfect for walking, jogging, or biking with the family. The trails are unpaved, but all-terrain strollers and bikes, and even wagons can easily navigate most of the paths.

The Cottonwood Trail is the longest in the preserve and follows along Lawson’s Ford Creek, providing a scenic water view that is still a safe distance from the walking trail.

The trail is pet-friendly so that the family dog can get in his steps for the day, too!  (Dogs are expected to remain on a leash and under the control of their owners at all times.)

Cottonwood Trail Access

Parking and entrances to the trail are found off Sydnor Road (across from the Spartan High tennis courts) and Beechwood Drive (off of Fernwood Drive).  The trail is open every day from dawn to dusk.

Find Beaver Dams & See Reptiles & Water Birds on the Boardwalk and Wetlands Trail

An offshoot of the Cottonwood Trail, the Boardwalk, and Wetlands Trails offer a first-hand experience of South Carolina’s famed wetlands.  The Boardwalk Trail is marked by a sign pointing to the beaver dams and quickly turns from a dirt trail into a boardwalk.  Take a break on the benches and observation deck to check out the reptiles and water birds.  If you’re lucky, you might spot the heron that calls this particular wetland his home.

Don’t Forget Your Picnic

A picnic area lies across the main bridge, crossing Lawson’s Fork Creek, so pack a snack and pause to play in the woods!

You can access a map of the Cottonwood Trail online.

Feeling at Home at Happy Hollow Park

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One of Spartanburg’s lesser known parks, is also one of its best.  Tucked away in the historic neighborhood of Converse Heights, Happy Hollow Park spans one block at the corners of S. Fairview and Glendalyn Avenue.  Small and secure, Happy Hollow Park provides a safe and shady place for children of all ages to play.

About Happy Hollow Park

Surrounded by a black wrought-iron gate and under a canopy of trees, Happy Hollow Park offers two separate playground equipment areas specific to age.  Larger slides and climbing apparatuses are available for older children, while a smaller set of shorter slides, tunnels, and interactive ground-level features are geared towards younger children.  Two sets of safety swings for babies and toddlers are available, as is a set of traditional swings for older children.

While the ground of the main play areas are covered in soft, shock-absorbing mulch, there is a paved path that leads into the park.  Here, benches in the shade are the perfect place to sit and visit with other parents or enjoy a moment of respite while the children play within an easily accessible distance.  Don’t forget to bring your sidewalk chalk, as children and parents alike can be found adorning the sidewalk area with their artistic endeavors!  Picnic tables for lunch or a quick snack are also located within the gated play area.

Outside the actual playground area, a lovely green space with a paved walking path and covered picnic pavilion offers a space for children to ride a scooter, play a game of tag, football, or hopscotch, or host an outdoor birthday party or lunch.  Keep your eye out for seasonal events sponsored by the Converse Heights Neighborhood Association, like the annual Easter Egg Hunt and Fourth of July Celebration.

What’s to Love

Surrounded by private homes, enclosed by a secure gate, and almost always populated by children and parents, Happy Hollow Park is a safe park to take children on your own.

Shade, shade, and more shade can be found during the Spring, Summer, and Fall. The tree canopy at Happy Hollow Park minimizes the hot South Carolina temps, which often renders other treeless parks too hot or leaves play equipment scalding for much of the year.  Not so at Happy Hollow Park.

Due to its smaller size, but age appropriate equipment, it’s easy to entertain children of various ages in the same space, which makes meeting up for diverse playdates or play groups a cinch.

What to Watch For

No bathrooms!  This is a big negative, especially for potty training children.  Make sure you ‘go’, before you go!

Parking can be problematic.  Since the park is located in a neighborhood, there is no official parking lot.  Cars park along the street, which can get crowded during peak hours.

Don’t hesitate to visit Happy Hollow Park. It’s is a fantastic way to spend the day, and it just might become one of your favorite parks in Spartanburg!

General Information

Happy Hollow Park
Glendalyn Avenue
Spartanburg, SC 29302
Visit their website

What’s your favorite park in Spartanburg? Share it with us in the comments area below!

RELATED: Read our review of Cleveland Park Spartanburg


Lemongrass Kitchen Is Where You Find Authentic Vietnamese Flavors in Spartanburg

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Growing up with a love of flavors and spices, I am in constant search not so much for fusion restaurants but more authentic dining experiences, places that are about celebrating their heritage and remain true to the characteristics of each dish. There’s nothing like discovering a family-run restaurant who boldly share their home-grown recipes to share with the public. The Lemongrass Kitchen is such a place. It’s run by husband and wife team Tony Nguyen and his wife Thang Bui. Transplants from California, Tony used to run a kitchen in Chinatown, Los Angeles. Now they are adding to the growing list of fun dining options in downtown Spartanburg.

About The Lemongrass Kitchen

Just a block off main street, The Lemongrass Kitchen mostly serves Southern Vietnamese dishes. Just as if you were in Saigon, the restaurant specializes in Pho, a good-sized noodle dish, sometimes  served in chicken or beef broth and paired with fragrant condiments of basil, mint leaves and bean sprouts, a definite Southern Vietnam touch.

Some visitors might be surprised with the limited menu, but if you were to visit Vietnam, this is actually typical. Restaurants specialize in specific dishes and have about multiple variations of the same dish. So goes with The Lemongrass Kitchen. On our visit, hubby had the “dry” noodle dish, Bun Thit, a combination of vermicelli rice noodles, fresh vegetables, spring rolls and sliced pork. I was feeling cold and ordered the beef Pho, Pho Tai cooked with a deep sweetish broth and served with thick flat noodles. If you noticed, both dishes had noodles, veggies and meat. But the variations come in broth options, type of noodles and protein of choice (they also have tofu on request). I also ordered a pearl milk tea, just because they had it and glad I did. I nice foil to the savory dish I had.

One thing we love about Vietnamese food is its freshness. We found the same experience at The Lemongrass Kitchen who sources their produce from the local farmers markets. The broth was crystal clear, probably from simmered bone marrow cooked for hours and strained with love. Compared to Japanese Ramen, it is much lighter and the noodles are made of rice not wheat (though we do love our fair share of Ramen). Before you add any Sriracha (the now ubiquitous Vietnamese chili sauce)  to your dish, make sure to taste the broth first and savor it. Every kitchen has its signature Pho flavor. Then proceed and make it your own, with a squeeze of lemon, a bite of basil, a handful of bean sprouts for crunch and maybe a splash of more fish sauce.

Another thing we ordered was the Cha Gio or the Vietnamese egg roll which was $4. It was a delicious appetizer and quite reasonable. Altogether, our bill was roughly $25, though if you didn’t order all the other things I did, a meal here would cost $10 per dish. A bowl of Pho can easily be shared with your littles. If you’re not up to having soup or a baguette sandwich (Banh Mi), I would suggest trying a couple of the appetizers for a meal.

The restaurant is casual dining, decorated with a bamboo theme. They mostly cater to the office lunch crowd but open for dinner till 8 pm.

Plan a visit for yourself

The Lemongrass Kitchen
121 Dunbar Street (a block from Main Street)
Monday-Thursday 11 am to 8 pm
Friday and Saturday 10 am to 8 pm
Closed on Sundays
(864) 205-6150
Visit their website.

Do you love a great Vietnamese restaurant?

Two Small Spartanburg Stores with Insanely Low Prices

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When it comes to shopping, Spartanburg doesn’t offer a massive variety of shops. There are times when you need to venture to Greenville to shop at stores Spartanburg doesn’t have, or you may make the drive out to Gaffney to find some great deals at the outlets.

There are shops in Spartanburg where you can find some great deals. Two in particular are worth great mention: Cohen’s, and Wheeler Supplies LLC.  If you would rather only pay a fraction of retail price for great items, you definitely need to check these shops out!

Shops to Visit in Spartanburg


307 W Main St in Spartanburg

Located in downtown Spartanburg at 307 W. Main Street, you will find Cohen’s; a shop owned by Jeffrey and Deede Cohen that opened 2001. Cohen’s is a wholesale shop that sells to larger retailers, which accounts for 95% of their business. The other 5% is savings that is passed on to the wonderful shoppers in Spartanburg.

When you first walk into Cohen’s, do not let the appearance throw you off. It’s definitely no Bloomingdales; however, it is kept organized. Merchandise is never thrown around the store- everything is in its place, making it easier to find what you are looking for. It’s very warm in the shop in the summer time, and cool in the winter, so dress accordingly. That’s only a small price to pay for some of the fantastic deals you will find there.  They carry clothing from multiple, well known, name brands, at prices 30-90% off retail. You can find clothing from Nordstrom, Columbia, Carters, Oshkosh, London Fog, Croft & Barrow, and the list goes on and on! There is usually a great selection of golf shirts, coats, dresses, leggings, pants, tops, belts, and socks for men and women, and even children’s clothing items. You may also find costume or silver jewelry and sunglasses. Best of all, you won’t be paying $45 for an item that retails for $60; you can expect to pay closer to $10, and all of the items are new. You may see some tags that state the item is ‘irregular,’ but don’t let that bother you. You won’t find holes or incorrect sleeve lengths in these irregular items. Chances are, it’s marked ‘irregular’ because the brand perhaps thought the color shade came out darker than the other items, and therefore, wasn’t up to their ‘regular’ standard.

The inventory at Cohen’s is always changing. If you see something in the store today that you want, don’t wait to take advantage of the deal, because once the item is gone, there is no telling if or when they will get it back in stock. It would be great to go check out Cohen’s on a weekly basis so you don’t miss out on a great find, but most busy moms and dads aren’t able to go shopping that often. Cohen’s makes it easy to stay on top of their current great deals without having to step foot in the store. One easy way is to sign up for their email list. Cohen’s will send promotional emails frequently with deals that they have in store. They are easy to read, and each email usually only shows a few deals, so you won’t use up a lot of time browsing through an entire ad. Being on this email list is not only a convenient way of learning the shop’s deals, but email customers typically get a better deal than the price tag shows in the store. Just simply mention you saw the sale through email, and if the price tag in the store is slightly higher, they will adjust the price to give you an even better deal. Another easy way to stay on top of Cohen’s deals is on their Facebook page.  Simply ‘like’ their page and watch the deals pop up on your Facebook feed.

As mentioned above, you can find Cohen’s at 307 W. Main Street, 3.2 miles from the Westgate Mall, heading toward downtown Spartanburg. They are open from 10 am – 6 pm, Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays and major holidays.  Their phone number is 864-342-0805.  They don’t have an official website, but all of the information you may want can be found on their Facebook page.

Wheeler Supplies

3500 Chesnee Hwy in Chesnee

Wheeler Supplies LLC, located at 3500 Chesnee Hwy in Chesnee, is owned by Jason Wheeler and his wife, and opened in 2003. If you are looking for deals on toys, electronics, small appliances, bikes, and personal need items, such as deodorant, diapers, shampoo, and plenty more, this is the place to check out before you go anywhere else. This store recently jumped from 6,000 square feet of merchandise, to 9,500 square feet, filled with a mountain of great deals. Most of the items here are 60% of retail. This is not a second hand shop; these are new items.

Wheeler Supplies is a great place to check out first, especially if you are looking to purchase an item that is typically more expensive at other retailers.  For example, they recently had a Minnie Mouse Power wheels, brand new in the box, for $90 that would be $199 at a local retail store. That’s a huge savings! You may find some of the latest toys that all the kids are raving about, and the prices won’t be marked up just because it’s an item that may be hard to find. They also have a small selection of clothing, which is heavily discounted as well. Big screen HDTVs are another great find, for a fraction of the price of larger retail stores, and even include top brand names.

With new inventory constantly arriving, you may go in one day and find a great deal that wasn’t there the day before. If you are looking for a specific item, just ask one of the friendly staff members. It may not be out on the floor yet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have it out back and just hadn’t had the chance to put it on the merchandise floor. You can also message them on Facebook. Send them a message to see if they have a specific item in stock, and they usually respond rather quickly and sometimes even include a picture so you know exactly what they have. Their Facebook page is also the best way to stay up-to-date on their current deals, other than physically going to the store to see what they have. They typically post several pictures on a weekly basis of the new merchandise they put out.

Wheeler Supplies is open Monday –Friday from 10 am – 6 pm, Saturdays from 9 am – 5 pm, and closed on Sundays and major holidays, and will update their Facebook page should there be any changes to their hours of operation. Their phone number is 864-381-9213.

It’s always a great idea to support small businesses in the growing Spartanburg community, and why not find a great deal while you are doing that?  You may just end up finding your new favorite store.

Do you have a favorite local shop in Spartanburg?

Meet Erika Morelli
Erika Morelli is a proud mother of three wonderful, energetic children. She moved to the Upstate in 2012 and loves exploring the area, finding new things to do and new places to eat. Her family always love a good adventure!

Where Did Spartanburg Get It’s Nicknames?

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Growing up in Spartanburg County in the 80s and 90s, I often heard Spartanburg referred to as Sparkle City. I naively thought this nickname just meant things were really shiny in Spartanburg! Since moving back to Spartanburg about a year ago, after a decade away, I quickly found that Hub City is Spartanburg’s presently accepted term of endearment. So, where did Spartanburg get these nicknames?

Why Spartanburg?

The city of Spartanburg got her formal name from the Spartan Regiment, a local militia during the American Revolution made up of fiercely independent men from the upcountry of South Carolina. Spartanburg was formed in 1785 and incorporated in 1831.

Where Did Spartanburg Get the Nickname Sparkle City?

In 1956, four boys from Cowpens High School formed a rock band named The Sparkletones. 1957 they signed with the ABC Paramount record label after winning a local talent contest.  The Sparkletones had multiple Billboard Top 100 hits, with “Black Slacks” becoming their most popular song. They worked with Paul Anka and performed on American Bandstand, The Nat King Cole Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. The group broke up in 1961 but did occasional reunion shows around South Carolina in the 1980s. Their glory days coined “Sparkle City” as their hometown’s nickname.

Hub City Farmer's Market in Spartanburg, SC

Why is Spartanburg Called Hub City?

Long before the Sparkletones sang their first note, Spartanburg was known for something else. In 1859, Spartanburg’s first railway connection began with a line from Union to Columbia. By the late 1800s there were seven different rail lines connecting Spartanburg to the rest of the Southeast and by the early 20th century, Spartanburg had become a transportation hub, with up to 90 passing through or stopping in the city and earning it the name, The Hub City. This nickname has seen a vast resurgence in popularity recently and you can find many area businesses with Hub City in the name. Our signs welcoming you into Spartanburg even bear the words.

Whatever you choose to call this city, Spartanburg, Sparkle City, or Hub City is rich in history and a great place to live!

Meet Jaime Brown
Jaime Brown grew up in Spartanburg and Greenville where she met her future husband in the 6th grade. After marriage and a few kids they moved away for a decade and now find themselves back in the Upstate with their four daughters ages 18, 14, 7 and 4. Having a college age child, high schooler, elementary aged fireball, and a special needs preschooler keeps her very busy but she loves each stage and encourages other moms
to enjoy motherhood. Jaime enjoys rediscovering the city where she grew up with her family. Bonfires, good coffee creamer, date nights, international travel, frugal interior design, and sleeping children are some of her favorite things. You can connect with her on instagram or her blog.
instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/jaimelbrown/
blog: coming soon

The Perfect Spot for a Book, Coffee, & Treat in Downtown Spartanburg

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Local mom Jennifer Curry reviews the Hub City Bookshop and Little River Coffee Bar in downtown Spartanburg. These two wonderful businesses are conveniently located right beside each other and provide the perfect place to read, drink coffee, and eat a treat! For more ideas of things to do in downtown Spartanburg see our guide.

Located in the heart of downtown Spartanburg in the historic Masonic Temple resides three thriving businesses. Anchored by the award-winning Hub City Bookshop, these local businesses have become a focal point for the booming downtown movement by creating a spot for local residents and families to gather, share ideas, and shop.

Hub City Bookshop

Hub City Bookshop is more than just a local independent bookstore. They are known for the wide range of regional books and creative nonfiction titles published through Hub City Press. Known for supporting local authors as well as quality pieces, Hub City Bookshop has gained quite a reputation in the literary community.

It all started 22 years ago, when three local Spartanburg writers (John Lane, Betsy Teter, and Gary Henderson) met to discuss the area’s struggles since the close of the textile mills. Rather than dwelling on the current difficulties, they formed the Hub City Writers Project (modeled after the Federal Writers Project). Together, they published the Hub City Anthology. The book was a success.

After, Hub City Writers Project continued to publish works specific to place – by people in the region about the region under Hub City Press books.

In the meantime, the only local independent bookstore in Spartanburg closed, so the three founders approached the mayor to see about forming a local independent non-profit bookstore (with all the proceeds going to support creative writing education and independent book publishing). He agreed. A location was decided upon and two other local businesses joined alongside the Hub City Writer’s Project to create a space for local events, coffee, and desserts. 7 years ago, they made history.

Currently, Hub City Bookshop not only sells books and host readings, they also run the Writers House Residency program where writers arrive annually to live in a writer’s residence in Hampton Heights and work in the Hub City Bookshop. This year, they are privileged to be hosting the C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize – one the country’s largest writing awards. Coming up next will be the publication of Taste of Spartanburg – a book that features local Spartanburg restaurants and farm-to-table traditions.

Now that you understand the history and significance of our local bookshop, you should know that it is truly a wonderful store that offers a diverse range of books and book related products. In addition to featuring the Hub City Press works, they also sell popular bestsellers, new releases, children’s books, young adult books, regional authors, and more. If they do not have it in the store, they can order it for you.

Little River Coffee Bar

Another unique local business in the Masonic Temple is the Little River Coffee Bar. The establishment is known for selling Little River Roasters coffee – a local business that is socially and ethically responsible. From knowing the farms where the beans come from to roasting it locally, Little River Roasters is a Spartanburg favorite.

Since this coffee shop not only serves the best local coffee and cold brew, the fact that it is attached to a bookshop and bakery makes it stand out. The Coffee Bar has several different sitting options – perfect for individuals working or for groups of friends wishing to chat. In addition to serving excellent coffee, they also host open mic nights and other events.

Cakehead Bakeshop – (Closed in August of 2019)

One of Spartanburg’s premier bakeries is located in this same building adjacent to Little River Coffee Bar. They offer a delicious assortment of cupcakes such as The JR (devil’s food cake, peanut butter icing, chocolate ganache, and candied peanuts), chocolate raspberry, and Italian crème. I cannot go in without purchasing at least one cupcake. Thankfully, they offer cupcake happy hours for people like me.

In addition to the assortment of cupcakes and pastries they sell, they offer breakfast items and savory quiches. All their choices pair well with Little River Coffee Bar’s drink selection. Customers can choose a baked good and enjoy it in the adjacent coffee shop or outside on the patio.

Cakehead Bakeshop has also made a name for itself because of the outstanding cakes they make to order. Their cakes are not only delicious, they are also expertly decorated making them hits at birthdays and celebrations.

A Great Place for Parents and Kids

Hub City Booksho and Little River Coffee Bar are great local businesses your family will enjoy supporting. Families can take time to peruse the outstanding collection of children’s books and young adult books at Hub City Bookshop. They applied and received a grant from the James Patterson Foundation for $6000 allowing them to increase the size of their children’s section (guaranteeing there will be a book your reluctant reader will love).

Families can purchase a book knowing they are supporting a local nonprofit, and then head next door for coffee and treats. These businesses are what make Spartanburg special and more reasons for you to love where you live.

What’s your favorite local business in Spartanburg?

Meet Jennifer Curry
Jennifer relocated to Spartanburg seven years ago, and now spends her days working from home and taking care of her two kids. She loves this area because we can go from rural areas to urban areas to the mountains within an hour. Her favorite things to do with her kids are using their imaginations and visiting Spartanburg County local libraries. Follow Jennifer at www.litlovingmom.com.

The Downtown Spartanburg Headquarters Library Even Has a Playground

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Jennifer Curry reviews the Downtown Spartanburg Headquarters Library. For more ideas of things to do inside see our list of Things to Do Inside in Spartanburg!

Looking for a place your kids will love that is always free with tons of stuff they can borrow to take home and enjoy? Does this magical place exist? Yes! The Headquarters Library in Downtown Spartanburg is full of excitement every day and has free items to borrow that everyone in your family will enjoy.

What makes the Headquarters Library so great?

Located on the 1st floor of the Headquarters Library is a massive children’s area that is enclosed and contains books, hands-on learning toys, a children’s computer lab, and more! As soon as you enter the area, you find the train depot. This special space has a gigantic train mural for the Hub City, as well as a train wall and the train depot where librarians await.

In this space, you will find several different hands-on activity tables such as the light-up magnetic blocks. Children are drawn to the space because of the toys and colors, but the library has specifically chosen activity tables that help children learn and be creative. Plus, this is not your typical “quiet” library space – play is encouraged!

Even more exciting is the beautiful outdoor children’s garden that includes a fully enclosed playground. Not only is the playground enclosed, it does offer shade! With a mixture of climbing equipment and musical play instruments, this playground is a hidden gem. There is plenty of seating for parents, so you can rest easy while your children run and play.

Plus, there are restrooms in the children’s area including family restrooms and a private nursing area.

Even your big kids will want to stay

Also located on the 1st floor is a room made just for tweens. If your kids are between the ages of 10 and 12, they are welcomed to the Tween Zone. This room is a hang-out space for this age group and is where several events just for tweens are held.

Did you know the Headquarters Library also has an entire private space just for teens? The Teen Services department is located on the 2nd floor (also the main floor of the library). Tell your teens to look for the orange walls.

This space not only holds the young adult book collection, it also is a unique hang-out space just for teenagers – no adults allowed! With televisions, computers, tables, booths, and even a stage, teens are invited to enjoy this space designed just for them. The Teen Services department hosts several teen-only events each month as well.

This library offers free programs too

Spartanburg County Libraries offer a huge number of free programs each month. Since Headquarters Library is the main branch, there are multiple programs happening here weekly. For example, the Headquarters Library hosts over 10 story time programs each week!

In addition to story time programs, the Headquarters Library also hosts movie viewings, author lectures, books clubs, and more. They even offer fitness programs such as yoga. All of these programs are free of charge!

During the summer, the library hosts a summer reading program for all ages (separate programs for children, teens, and adults). Each division offers prizes to those who complete their summer reading program. The adult and teen programs encourage patrons to attend the free library programs, which count towards winning the summer reading prizes.

See our calendar for a list of library events.

This library is not just for checking out books

Often, people are under the assumption that libraries are just for checking out books. This could not be further from the truth. One visit to the Headquarters Library will let you see there is so much more available to patrons than books.

For example, the third floor of the library offers a large computer lab for those needing internet, Word programs, or printing. In addition, the Headquarters Library also has private study rooms patrons may use. If you or your teen has a big project, these are great spaces to utilize.

But, more than books and computers, the Headquarters Library also has an entire audiovisual section that allows individuals to borrow movies, television series, music, video games, and more. These are not old movies or music either – these are brand new releases you may borrow for free. This section is located on the main level.

Did you know you can also check out magazines from the library? Instead of spending money on subscriptions or stocking up on new magazines at the grocery checkout aisle, you can borrow magazines from the library. Headquarters Library has a huge magazine section with current and past issues.

Additionally, the Spartanburg Libraries offer several library apps that you can use from home (i.e. Freegal, Hoopla, Overdrive, Zinio). These apps allow you to use your phone or device to check out eBooks and audiobooks outside of the library. But, that’s not all. These apps allow you to borrow and download current music, movies, television, and magazines to your devices for free as well.

Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got your library card!

While program events are free and open to the public, if you want to take advantage of the library’s collection (or borrow materials), you will need a library card. Library cards are free to Spartanburg County residents. You just need proof of identity and proof of residency (if your driver’s license includes your current address, you can use it).

Most books, magazines, and music CDs may be checked out for 28 days. DVDs, Blu-Ray discs, and video games may be checked out for 7 days.

The Headquarters Library is located at 151 S. Church Street in downtown Spartanburg. It is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Sunday from 1:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

Has your family ventured to Headquarters Library yet this summer?

Meet Jennifer Curry
Jennifer relocated to Spartanburg seven years ago, and now spends her days working from home and taking care of her two kids. She loves this area because we can go from rural areas to urban areas to the mountains within an hour. Her favorite things to do with her kids are using their imaginations and visiting Spartanburg County local libraries. Follow Jennifer at www.litlovingmom.com.