Shrunken Head Boutique is adding an additional storefront at 161 E. Franklin St., just a few doors down from its current location, which has been in business since 1969.
Melissa Pate, store manager of Shrunken Head and granddaughter of the shop's founders, said the business has maxed out its store space. She currently uses her home in Cary to run a "warehouse operation" of online orders and shipments, she said. The additional space of the new location will allow Pate to run the business from Chapel Hill rather than her home.
“[The current store] is wall-to-wall, shoulder-to-shoulder," Pate said. "So we're hoping that in the new space, people can come and linger a little bit more."
Pate hopes to open the new store, which will house Shrunken Head's UNC merchandise, in early 2024. She said she hopes to sell mainly Chapel Hill merchandise in the current location, which will remain open.
When customers walk into the new store, they will have around 1,200 square feet to shop for UNC merchandise, Pate said, in comparison to the original store's 900 square feet.
“A lot of people, their first question they ask is, ‘But you're not closing this store, right?’" MeLissa Nobling, a store manager, said. "This store has a nostalgia in it that everybody vibes with."
Shrunken Head has not seen an expansion like this in the 54 years it has been in business, Pate said. In 2021, the store was forced to renovate due to flooding, and Pate said the renovation paved the way for the upcoming expansion. The management team decided within the last year that an expansion of retail space was necessary.
Pate grew up working at Shrunken Head on UNC game days, and she began working full-time in 2016. She described Shrunken Head as a “family atmosphere” and said customers become part of the family when they walk into the store.
Throughout her childhood, Pate said she witnessed her grandparents form relationships with customers, and she has carried on the legacy of connecting with the community.