We live in a world where the convenience of online shopping and ever-evolving trends in merchandise pose an obstacle to brick-and-mortar stores. Driving to a shop, wandering through an emporium of themed rooms and delighting in their novel items is that classic concept we’ve long associated with shopping. It’s the idea that the Wright family used when they established The Cotton Gin in the 1960s as a whimsical shop that invited visitors to relax, explore and enjoy. This one-of-a kind shop has been a retail wonderland for decades, but pressure from online merchants’ rising popularity challenges even their unique brand.
With the Wrights’ constantly evolving business model, however, The Cotton Gin maintains its reputation as a store that stays on the cutting edge of the shopping scene with each passing year – both on the Outer Banks and on the national scale too. The addition of the Currituck location’s onsite winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, launched their business into the wine growing world. More than that, though, it put The Cotton Gin on the map as an Outer Banks destination where farming, retail magic and a pastoral playground converge.
Their developments for The Cotton Gin’s brand unsettle all standard notions for an Outer Banks shop. Of course, you still get a healthy dose of retail therapy, but now you also find events and entertainment, activities and adventures, food and wine.
Sanctuary Vineyards’ winery and vineyards have changed the way The Cotton Gin’s visitors shop. Many also tour the vineyards, see how the wine gets made, take a tasting at the cozy bar and pick out a few of their favorites to take home. If you get hungry, the Thyme and Tide Café at the shop lets you pair the wine with fresh wraps, sandwiches and salads. Or if you’re passing through Currituck early, you can pick up a breakfast sandwich to have on the road. Does this sound like most shopping trips? No, but that’s precisely the point. The Wright family has successfully combined shopping with a culinary, visual and entertaining twist.
Sipping wine and strolling through a vineyard are good starts to those relaxing activities we tend to crave during the summer. And the trend doesn’t stop there. Start your weekend feeling loose, refreshed and balanced with Saturday morning yoga sessions in the vineyards. Or unwind during the week at their Acoustic Sunset Concert Series on Thursdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., where you kick back on a picnic blanket, perhaps with a bottle of your favorite Sanctuary Vineyards wine, while listening to live performances from local musicians.
When you need a break during your Saturday trip to or from the Outer Banks, the new Saturday Food Truck Series makes stopping at the winery a no brainer. Take a breather as you stretch your legs by strolling around the vineyards or the shop, then grab a delicious bite to eat from the selection of food trucks onsite at Sanctuary Vineyards – many from your favorite Outer Banks eateries!
Shopping, stretching, sipping and relaxing make The Cotton Gin and Sanctuary Vineyards an attractive location, but their partnership with Kitty Hawk Kites is also drawing thrill seekers to Currituck. Get an aerial view of the Currituck mainland and sound while soaring overhead with a hang-gliding tour. The private dock behind the winery also adds aquatic activities to The Cotton Gin’s diverse offerings. The Vineyard Voyage boat tour sounds like a dream, where you boat across the Currituck Sound from Duck and, when you reach the mainland, take an open-air 4x4 safari truck to Sanctuary Vineyards. There you explore the vibrant vineyards, experience the behind-the-scenes process in the winery and toast the trip with a private wine tasting before boarding the boat and returning home.
The Cotton Gin bolsters Currituck’s reputation as an up-and-coming destination on the Outer Banks. Years ago, most people visiting or living on the beach wouldn’t make a trip over to Jarvisburg on a whim. But now, The Cotton Gin is truly a place that you could call a one-stop shop for outdoor adventurists, oenophiles, foodies, music lovers and, of course, shoppers – because of, coincidentally, that actual one-stop shop.