113 South Gregson Street, Durham, NC 27701
While Durham, North Carolina is perhaps best known for its technology companies and institutions of higher education (go Blue Devils!), the lesser-known Morgan Imports, Ltd. also holds special rank in the community. Established 50 years ago by Col. Richard and Jacqueline Morgan, Morgan Imports has not only delighted the good people of Durham with its unique and bountiful homewares merch, but has consistently contributed to the community by providing employment opportunities and philanthropic support, too. In fact, this was proudly proclaimed by Durham Mayor Steve Schewel in 2019 when he named November 12 “Morgan Imports Day.” We’re not sure even Duke University has enjoyed such an honor.
The Morgan Imports story starts back in 1969, when Col. Richard Morgan resigned from active duty in the Marine Corps (after flying some 180 combat missions in Vietnam). For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Leveraging his vast experience and network within the Far East, Morgan returned to Durham to start a homewares import business.
Morgan Imports, Ltd. first opened its doors in the old Piggly Wiggly store at the intersection of Main and Morgan Streets in downtown Durham. Because of the high capital demands of importing goods to the U.S., only 20% of the store’s inventory was from overseas at the time. Additional inventory was sourced from gift shows in Atlanta, New York, and California.
Over the years, and despite a few significant hiccups — including a fire at a subsequent store location and the purchase and sale of a handful of additional Morgan Imports stores — Morgan Imports grew. In 1991, Col. Morgan moved the store to its current location, a 25,000-square-foot-space in the historic Durham Laundry Building. Morgan renovated the space from top to bottom, combining a contemporary open design with historic architectural features from the original laundry.
Today, Morgan Imports carries a wide variety of items, including giftware, homeware, furniture, apparel, and jewelry (See a list of categories here). For those of you who want to relax in style, try a Reinvented Recliner from American Leather. This line of recliner chairs is known for its sleek styling and multitudinous fabric and leather options. If you’re more of a kitchen rat, Morgan Imports has something for you, too: maybe a cookbook from North Carolina local, “Savor the South,” or an embroidered linen tea towel? We like the foam-rubber magnetic letter sets for the fridge.
For the princess in your life, how about a silk-blend neck scarf in cerulean? Couple that with the helpful guide, “50 Ways to Tie a Scarf” so she never gets it wrong. There are also stack rings in silver and gold if she’s not a scarf girl.
Morgan Imports is not short on the whimsy either — grab a Madhatter-esqe, hand-finished resin teacup wall clock by Allen Designs, or (wait for it) a scented backpack clip in a “rainbow slushy scent” from Whiffer Sniffers. Everyone needs one of those.
Over the years, Col Morgan and Morgan Imports have also done a lot to support the Durham community. The store hosted benefits for many nonprofits, schools, and churches, including Habitat for Humanity Durham, the Ronald McDonald House of Durham & Wake, and UNC Pediatrics, to name but a few beneficiaries. Why not show your support for Morgan Imports and stop in? We’re sure they’d love to see you — and you can pick up that scented backpack clip while you’re there.
For more information, visit Morgan Imports online or in person by visiting the address above.