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Business Spotlight: Charleston Forge Crafting ‘Made in Boone’ Furniture for 30 Years

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In 1984, Art Barber loaded up his 1978 pickup truck in Boone with five pieces of furniture to take to High Point, which hosts the largest furnishings industry tradeshow in the world. Deep in debt at the time, Barber couldn’t afford a showroom at the High Point Market that brings 75,000 people to the Piedmont each six months to wheel-and-deal furniture. “I literally put my stuff out in the hall like a vagrant,” Barber said. By Jesse Wood • Photo by Philip Holman / Charleston Forge

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Business Spotlight: Sound Technique Mobile DJ Providing Carefree Fun in the High Country

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Keith Richardson, owner of Sound Technique Mobile DJ, interacts with karaoke singers at the Town Tavern in Blowing Rock. Photos by Ken Ketchie

March 9, 2015. In the late ‘70s, Keith Richardson was on vacation in the Bahamas just before a light bulb went off in his mind. The tiny bar he was hanging out at in Nassau was dead with about three customers enjoying their beverages and looking out into the marina. It was vacation after all, so Richardson was still having fun. Soon, though, a fellow walked in with some equipment, and almost immediately, the place was packed – and the outside patio, too. Richardson asked someone what was happening. “He said, ‘It’s karaoke.’ I said, ‘What is that?’” Richardson reflected. “I had no idea [what karaoke was at that time].” By Jesse Wood • Photos by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: Curves Provides a Supportive Place for Women to Get Healthy

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March 3, 2015. For many women, hitting the gym can be an intimidating experience. The typical gym is filled with brawny men throwing weights and super fit people on treadmills. But Curves is different. This gym, made specifically with women in mind, is a place where women can get a great workout in a healthy, supportive and nonthreatening environment. By Madison Fisler Lewis – Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight – Same Face, Different Name: Bolstered by Experience and CCIM Designation, James Milner Opens Appalachian Commercial Real Estate

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Armed with seven years of experience in real estate consultation and entrepreneurship, Appalachian State University graduate James Milner founded Appalachian Commercial Real Estate (ACRE) in late 2014. Milner has amassed a wealth of knowledge and experience in the commercial real estate industry since starting Milner Research Services in 2005. He worked seven years with Sweeting Appraisal Service as a real estate consultant and analyst through Milner Research Services. He has since leveraged this background to achieve the coveted Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM) designation.
BY JESSE WOOD
Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: Where Everyone Knows Your Name; Nick’s Restaurant is the ‘Cheers’ of the High Country

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When Vicki Treyz moved to the High Country ten years ago after a lifetime spent in the Florida sun, even she wouldn’t have guessed that her move to cooler temperatures would be the start of a decade as the owner of one of the High Country’s most iconic restaurants. Known by many as the “Cheers” of the High Country, Nick’s Restaurant in Banner Elk has all the right elements of being the local hangout. By Madison Fisler Lewis – Photo by Ken Ketchie

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A Special Christmas Business Spotlight: Santa and Mrs. Claus’ Toy Shop Makes Toys for all the Good Girls, Boys

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After emptying our work expense account and liquidating our office’s petty cash drawer, my boss sent me on a Business Spotlight assignment like no other—Ken sent me to the North Pole. I guess one too many jokes at the expense of Santa Claus’ existence bought me a 24-hour flight to the coldest place on earth, but I wasn’t complaining—after all, who else gets to see Santa’s toy operation in person? I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity.
BY SAM CALHOUN

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Business Spotlight: Bald Guy Brew Continues To Do Good Locally & Globally, New Location Atop Beech Mountain

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For owner Don Cox, Bald Guy Brew is where the love of coffee and humanity meet, and like many businesses, roasting coffee started out as a passionate hobby. Cox came to Boone in the ‘80s to go to Appalachian State University. After graduating he left for higher education and travelled the world, which eventually led him to meet people growing coffee beans in Mexico. He travelled some more, including working with genocide survivors in Rwanda and doing leadership development in Peru. Along the way, he continued to connect with people whose families grew coffee.
BY JESSE WOOD
Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Farmers Backside Ski Shop in Boone

Farmers Ski Shop might just be the oldest ski shop in Boone, but everything the shop offers, from equipment to tune ups and everything in between, remains timeless. Farmers Ski Shop opened its doors in 1969 on the top floor of what used to be Farmers Hardware. In 1976, the shop was expanded to its current location on Depot Street by David Greene. Owned since its inception by the Greene family along with The Shoppes at Farmers Hardware and Farmers Rentals, Farmers Ski Shop is a family operation to its core.
By Madison Fisler Lewis – Photos by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: Green Mother Goods Celebrates Seven Years With Grand Re-Opening on Friday, Saturday

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When Debi Golembieski was a student at Appalachian State University in the ‘90s majoring in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on environmental studies and a minor in sustainable development, she never thought she would become a business owner. But years later in 2007, she and three other mothers of small children got together and talked about wanting a store where they could shop for natural baby products and goods for the whole family that emphasized “conscious consumerism.”
BY JESSE WOOD
Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: Our Daily Bread Celebrates 30 Years in Boone, The Parkers Revitalize Establishment in Late ’90s

One day in the late ‘90s, Sam and Jennifer Parker, who at the time were looking to open their own restaurant in Boone, were sitting in Our Daily Bread having lunch. While waiting for their food, the Parkers, both in their early to mid 20’s back then, were looking out the window in the direction of the historic Mast General Store and people watching on King Street. Right in the middle of downtown and with the college campus only a block away, the location was obviously great.

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Business Spotlight:The Ratchfords of Vidalia Announce Plans for Expansion of the Popular Downtown Restaurant

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Across from the Watauga County courthouse sits a gem, a restaurant that brings to the table quality service, inspired culinary creations and a relaxed atmosphere. For Sam and Alyce Ratchford, chef and general manager, respectively, of Vidalia of Boone, the winter season brings with it a new crop of customers and the realization of a long held dream. Vidalia of Boone, one of the most highly regarded restaurants in the High Country, will be expanding. By Madison Fisler Lewis – Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: Proper Comes Correct With Authentic Southern Food in Downtown Boone, New Catering Service

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Angela Kelly owning a restaurant that serves some of the staples of Southern food such as fried chicken and catfish, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy and collards seems fitting – proper even. Kelly grew up in Salisbury, the seat of Rowan County that tourism officials call “Authentic North Carolina” and a charming Southern destination. It’s where she grew up eating and learning how to cook that same style of food that she now serves at Proper. Whenever she walks up the front steps of the old jailhouse building on Water Street and into Proper and that smell of her grandmother’s kitchen hits her senses, it takes her back to when her grandmother had the pots jumping. “It doesn’t matter if I had eaten or not. As soon as I would walk in, I would want to eat something,” Kelly said. “It’s the same thing here.”
BY JESSE WOOD
Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: ‘The Local’ is More Than a New Name for this Downtown Eatery and Bar on Howard Street

There’s a new concept at a familiar place on Howard Street this week. Nearly six years after taking over Char, owner Jean Borhman, General Manager Colton Lenz, and Assistant GM Alaina Walker are finally, according to Lenz, “making it our own.” With a new name—”The Local”—comes a new menu, fresh décor, live music and many other changes that live up to that moniker. Even more than before, The Local wants to be your local tavern. And if their grand opening Saturday was any indication, they have a good shot at making it so.

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Business Spotlight: Banner Elk Consignment Cottage Expands into Niche for High Country Home Goods

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When Susan and Mike Brown purchased a commercial building as an investment property in 2007, they never expected that they would become owners of a successful consignment business. Seven years later, Susan and Mike are the owners of Banner Elk Consignment Cottage – a unique business that has fit like a glove to a hand in this thriving mountain community. By David Coulson – Photos by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: The Local Mellow Mushrooms Strive to be the Local Standby That Keeps Getting Better

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There is a lot of history involved with Mellow Mushroom and the High Country. And Chase Luddeke has lived through most of it. When Luddeke was 14 years old, his family relocated from the suburbs of Atlanta to open the first Mellow Mushroom restaurant outside of Georgia. Moving into a space once occupied by the vastly popular Sollecito’s Italian restaurant, the Luddeke clan introduced what Chase remembers as a homey, relaxed place to get pizza. Photo by

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Business Spotlight: From a Fascinating Legend to Trash Dump in ‘30s, The Blowing Rock is Oldest Attraction in NC

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In the early ‘30s and before, the grounds of The Blowing Rock were essentially a dumping site. Folks would drive to the edge of the cliff and throw their trash into the John’s River Gorge below. But Grover C. Robbins, Sr., a former mayor of the Town of Blowing Rock who has since been dubbed the “Father of Tourism” in the state, changed all that when he contacted the Bernhardt family about leasing the property to turn The Blowing Rock and its Native American legend into the oldest tourist attraction in North Carolina.
BY JESSE WOOD
Photo by Jesse Wood

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Business Spotlight: Bob Caldwell Photography Caters to Locals, Abides by Philosophy of ‘People over Business’

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When he was 10 years old, Bob Caldwell developed his first roll of Nikon film. Today, he shoots with a Nikon DSLR and there are no darkrooms involved, but he still loves the craft just as much as he did back then. He returned to the High Country, launched Bob Caldwell Photography and has since established himself as one of the area’s premier event and family photographers. Story by Emma Speckman – Photo by Ken Ketchie

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Business Spotlight: While the Name Has Changed, Blowing Rock Furniture Gallery Maintains Its Commitment to Affordability and Customer Service

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Walking into Blowing Rock Furniture Gallery’s showroom is sure to leave an indelible impression. The building itself is impressive: a stunning cabin of huge proportions, hardwood floors and vast windows that invite in the beauty of the surrounding area. But what draws the viewer to linger is the feeling of warmth and comfort created by the tastefully displayed array of furnishings and accessories, chosen with care to dare one not to take a seat, put up their feet and imagine themselves enjoying this beautiful setting in their own home.

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Business Spotlight:Monkee’s Combines Unique Boutique Fashion Experience with Emphasis on Customer Service

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When Jessica and Kenneth Wehrmann were in college, neither had any idea that they would one day be the owners of a high-fashion boutique in Blowing Rock. But since buying Monkee’s Designer Fashion Boutique two years ago, this enthusiastic, married couple has fallen in love again with the High Country and established a unique store that caters to customer service. by David Coulson – Photos by Ken Ketchie

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Lost Province Brewing Company is All in the Family; Offers Fresh Brewed Beer and Wood Fired Pizzas

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Judging by the number of tables that were still packed hours past the lunch rush, it looks like the High Country is as excited about the opening of Lost Province Brewing Company and Pub as its owners are. Lost Province, located at 130 N. Depot St. right behind the Mast General Store, started serving up yummy pizzas and beer to excited patrons this week. With some soft openings earlier in the week behind them, the team at the new downtown “brew-pub” was excited to open the doors to the public today. by Madison Fisler Lewis – Photo by Ken Ketchie

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