An undeniable appeal of living in Pamlico County is that it’s not commercialized and overrun with chain retail. We much prefer our little mom-and-pop shops, with charm to spare and a story to tell.
Many small businesses dot our county, but we specifically want to highlight some of our favorite businesses from the next generation… the ‘sons-and-daughters’ of the ‘mom-and-pops’. Some of these businesses are new, and some established with a cult-like following, but what they share is priceless. Young owners who took a leap of faith and landed (back) in their hometown to put down their own kind of roots.
Roots Run Deep
Most of these entrepreneurs were born and raised right here in the county. This generation didn’t have Wi-Fi, they found a different kind of connection with the Neuse River and winding county creeks in their backyard… the water was their playground.
It’s obvious that their hard-working role models instilled a work ethic in them from a young age. And the same locals that remember them bagging their groceries at Belangia’s, getting their hands dirty on the farm or wearing a hurricane jersey, are now their faithful patrons.
They’re all grown up and blazing a trail on their terms, their new title: THE BOSS.
Meet the next generation doing big things in a small town:
Harbourside Garden Co.
Every new construction home needs a new yard. I have a brown thumb and needed all of the landscaping help I could get. Just about everyone I asked pointed me to Rachel, and now I see why. Girl knows her stuff!
She’s basically a plant scientist, graduating from NC State with a degree in horticulture and concentration in landscape design. After college she put new roots down in her hometown, in more ways than one. She had a small landscape design business in 2008, and four years later it evolved into Harbourside Garden Co., the county’s first full service garden center + country store.
Rachel said “We wanted to create a unique experience with a down home feel”. It’s such a neat place to visit, mission accomplished.
Dawson Creek Cattle Company
Justin & Christen Lee
Justin Lee, a fifth generation farmer from the Dawson’s Creek area just up the street, turns out free-range, grass-fed beef from cattle that have never had anything chemically altered, they’re all natural through and through.
Justin said, “My steers graze on native grasses for 18 months. Then, two months before they are custom butchered into cuts for the dinner table, I feed them with feed I make myself. I use corn, soybeans, minerals, and some molasses for flavor, with no additives whatsoever.”
Taste the Difference
Many local stores and restaurants source local products and get their beef from the Lee’s. Luckily Gary’s Downeast Seafood just down the street is one of them. You can literally taste the difference in their Cattleman’s burger, it’s the taste of quality… ‘beefier’ is a word, right?
We all need to realize that when young couples create businesses where we live, they boost the local economy. That alone should be reason enough to support them… major bonus when what they are selling is simply far superior to everything else!
Main Street Fresh Flower Market
Growing up in Oriental, Sarah has always been drawn to the vibe of a small town. After spending her college years at ECU and Clemson, those Carolina roads led her back home.
Home is where the heart is and her heart belonged to Pamlico County.
When a job led her to Beaufort in 2019, she rented a cutie downtown cottage that just happened to be next door to a flower bar. She found herself in there often and fell in love with the concept… an interactive shop where cut flowers are on display for guests to make their own arrangements/bouquets. (And apparently this is the newest trend for bridal parties. I myself am a bit past my prime wedding years but can see how it’s a neat activity to personalize a special day.)
When she moved home full time last year, she craved those colorful blooms and saw an opportunity to open a flower shop of her own. In July 2022, the Main Street Fresh Flower Market opened it’s doors in Bayboro on Main Street (obviously). She also has pre-made arrangements for those (of us) who would rather leave the creativity to her… and she delivers!
She has an eye for design, an entrepreneurial drive, and a contagious spirit. Why do I have a feeling this is just the beginning? Can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!
Neuse River Bait and Tackle
Todd Willis grew up in Pamlico County and had an undeniable passion for family, community and of course… fishing!
Perhaps he got his entrepreneurial spirit from his granddad who owned and operated Lionel Willis Grocery in Kennels Beach for 50+ years.
Todd and Heather opened NRBT in 2015 in a little shop in Grantsboro stocked to the brim with everything you’d ever need to get hooked up! Through their loyal customers (and faithful social media followers) both near and far, the little shop grew way beyond their 4 walls. In July 2021, they moved into a new space on the corner of highways 55 and 306 where they had plenty of room to stretch out and display their goods and swag.
They carry all the top brands of fishing gear and clothing but I rarely leave the store without a(nother) NRBT hat… gotta love a good logo!
The NRBT experience is always extra special because of their “shop staff” as they call them. But it doesn’t seem like staff is the right word. They seem more like a close group of friends that just happen to be lucky enough to work together. Heather said it’s actually more like a family… friends by chance, family by choice.
The NRBT family has been through the highest highs and lowest lows. Last fall, Todd got very sick and went downhill fast. Todd passed away in October and everyone that knew and loved him, the family, and the shop was completely devistated. To lose someone that young and someone so full of life sent shockwaves through the county, and beyond. The sense of community that Todd had fostered for so long is felt to this day. And his family and friends honor the legacy he left in so many ways while carrying on the tradition of great products and service with a smile.
Wobbly Hog Smokehouse
Heather said it best, “food and fishing go hand in hand”. So when NRBT moved to the larger location, Heather opened up the smokehouse next door. They named it Wobbly Hog, a nod to the building’s prior occupant, the Piggly Wiggly. Their throwback farmhouse décor and friendly service make you feel right at home. The only bad thing is choosing what to order because everything is SO good!
Meats smoked daily by their pitmaster and homestyle cooking served up on iconic silver trays.
You don’t go there for dinner, you go there for supper. . . yes, there is a difference.
One-stop-shopping: grab some gear, get some advice and a fish story or two, then pop over to the smokehouse for some finger lickn’ goodness.
Paradise Shores Adventures
The Dunbar family are Pamlico County watermen through and through. Blake Dunbar, owner of Paradise Shores Adventures, grew up fishing and hunting in the Neuse River and Pamlico Sound making his firsthand knowledge of these local waters one of a kind.
Blake’s specialty is fishing and hunting charters but if that’s not your thing they even have scenic tours. And I’m just guessing that you’ll get some pretty sweet commentary from the Captain!
When Blake isn’t guiding you’ll find him working those same waters as a commercial fisherman bringing all of us the freshest catch from flounder to softshells… and everything in between!
Chaos Coffee Co.
Laura & Mark Dearing
This family holds a special place in our hearts. We met the Dearings a few months before their sweet son Odin passed away from a rare form of cancer. They continue to share their story and honor Odin’s memory in special ways.
Laura’s mom, Annie, opened Sweet Annie’s in 2020, and shortly after Mark and Laura started their coffee roasting business next door. They have already made their mark on the competitive coffee world, beating out many well-known brands in the International coffee review: Odin’s Viking Brew Review
Laura said “We named this coffee after him [Odin] to always remember how bold, strong, courageous, and spicy he was.”
Best way to start your day
Satisfy your caffeine and sweet tooth cravings at Sweet Annie’s Coffee Shop & Bakery on the waterfront right when you turn down 304 in Bayboro. The Chaos Coffee is brewing and Annie is in the kitchen baking fresh donuts, apple fritters, muffins and all sorts of sweet treats!
Hmmm, how does one best describe Pamlico County native Audra Sampson? She’s an artistic fashionista that is unapologetically unique in the best way. And from these talents she has created one heck of a business selling all things bold and beautiful. Her Audra Style boutiques are her creative outlet and her brand is unmistakable.
Ladies all over the county and country can be found rocking one of Audra’s signature style earrings. And we’re lucky enough to have her 2 boutique locations just down the road in New Bern and Morehead City, not to mention all of the local shops that carry her pretty jewels.
New Village Brewery & Taproom
Frank & Lili Bacon
The New Village Brewery & Taproom opened during Croakerfest 2017 and quickly became the go-to watering hole for locals and weekend warriors.
Craft beer + food trucks + live music, what’s not to love?
Frank and Lili transformed a classic Victorian house into a growing hot spot with patrons filling three rooms inside and often spilling onto the front porch and into the backyard beer garden. The beer garden hosts most of the live music, and on Fridays and Saturdays you can usually find the food truck de’jour parked in the front lot. Try one of their home brews or rotating ‘tap takeover’ selections that feature a different Carolina brewery each week.
Everyone loves the hometown vibe. And if you don’t… pull up a stool, have a few, talk to some locals, and then tell me what you think.
Pamlico County is a unique place because it’s quite literally ‘where the land and sky meet the water.’ But we’re not only surrounded by water, we’re surrounded by genuine families like these that add to the charm of small town living.
The place might have made the people, but it’s the people that make the place.
Hungry? We also wrote a blog about a few of our favorite local restaurants in Local Eats & Treats:
“In Pamlico County, eatin’ good in the neighborhood doesn’t mean that we’re going to meet you down at the local Applebee’s. If you’re looking for Starbucks, you’re going to be looking for a while.”