Keeping It Local, Part Two

By Molly Harrison | Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Everything from surfboards to boats to jewelry are made here

If you caught the blog last week, you'll recall that I told you about a bunch of Outer Banks-made foods and drinks that you can consume if you want to soak up all the Outer Banks goodness while you're here. For part two of the focus on the homegrown goods I'm going beyond food and into the realm of stuff. From decoys and pottery to shoes and surfboards, these are items that are made right here on the Outer Banks. They make the perfect Outer Banks souvenir - and they will make you feel good about supporting the Outer Banks economy.

Let's start big. Dare County enjoys a reputation as one of the top boat-building areas on the East Coast, and most of the boats built in this region are of a similar style known as Carolina boats. The local boat-building industry started with fishermen. Manteo resident George Washington Creef built the first shad boat for shad fishing in Roanoke Sound in the 1880s - but that's a story for another blog. Around the 1950s, charter fishermen looked around at ways to build boats that would help them reach the offshore fishing waters more quickly. Capt. Warren O'Neal and Omie Tillett were the local pioneers in building sportfishing boats that were designed to take on the rough sea condition in the area while maintaining a comfortable, dry ride. The Carolina boat was born.

Today's Outer Banks boat builders include Bayliss Boatworks, BB Boats, Blackwell Boatworks, Bradley Custom Boats, Briggs Boatworks, Harrison Boatworks, Ritchie Howell Carolina Custom Yachts, Arvin Midgett, Paul Mann Custom Yachts, Scarborough Boatworks and Spencer Yachts. World-class luxury catamaran builder Gunboat opened a production facility in Wanchese in 2012. You'll find all of these builders on Roanoke Island (and neighboring Manns Harbor) - and that's a huge density of boat builders for a small 13-mile-long island! If you want to see examples of the local boats, take a stroll through the local marinas (after 5 p.m. so all the boats will be back in the docks). Ask a mate or a dockmaster about which boats are local. If you take a ride around Wanchese, you'll also see some local boat-building activity. Of course, you can also buy one ... anywhere from 15 to 80 feet long.

The Outer Banks is also well-known for its surfboard shapers. Surfers from all over the world, including many professional surfers, have Outer Banks-made boards in their quiver. You can have one too. Here are some of the big names to look for: Mike Beveridge, Scott Busbey/In the Eye, Hatteras Glass, Mike Clark/Clark Designs (thanks for the photo!), Jesse Fernandez and Bob Yinger of Wave Riding Vehicles, Rascoe Hunt/Gale Force Glass/GFG, Mickey McCarthy/New Sun, Tim Nolte, Murray Ross, Mike Rowe/Hooked Surfboards, Lynn Shell/Outer Banks Boarding Company. This is a short list; there are others. Some of these guys make standup paddleboards too. Stop in a local surfshop and ask about the locally made boards to get matched up with yours today.

If you want to keep the feeling of vacation lingering a little longer, take a hammock home with you. Nags Head Hammocks was founded here and the hammocks were all made here for a long time. As the company grew they had to move their main manufacturing operation to nearby Greenville, N.C., but they still do a lot of hammock weaving at the KDH store (and you can see them doing it). That's local enough for us. These hammocks, hanging chairs and swings will make you think it's still summer all year long.

Rocking chairs, Adirondack chairs and porch swings should be on your list of Outer Banks souvenirs, and there are many locally made options. Several area woodworkers make these things, but our favorite is All Decked Out on Hatteras. They build and sell locally made furniture, and they'll ship it.

One of the most unique local items is clogs. Yes, we have a clog shop where the shoes are made on site. Chameleon Clogs in Nags Head makes custom clogs that range from institutional style to sexy and strappy to clogs for kids. Owner Rabiah Hodges has all the tools needed to make your own pair of custom clogs.

You should also check out Endless Possibilities in Manteo. Here, the creative folks who work and volunteer in the shop turn the material from clothing donated to Hotline Thrift Shops that might be hard to resell into amazing woven items. Way to reuse and repurpose! Their most popular draw is the colorful rugs, which can be custom made by the way. But they also sell other items made from locally found or donated materials. You can even come in, get a lesson on the looms and try your hand at being an Outer Banks crafter. Jody Sheehan and her crew are full of ideas and fun. Another BTW: The aforementioned Rabiah Hodges was the brainchild behind this shop...Outer Bankers are a very creative lot, as you're seeing, whether they're creating huge or little.

Decoys and wood carvings are hugely popular in this area. Decoy carving was a big deal way back when duck hunting was so much bigger here. There is still some duck hunting and functional decoy carving going on, but for the most part decoys are now just for show. Check The Wooden Feather in Duck and The Bird Store in Kill Devil Hills for locally made decoys and wood carvings. Names to look for include Nick Sapone, Vic and Ellen Berg/Outer Banks Waterfowl, the Waterfield family, Bonnie Wade, Philip Harvey, Hudson Williams and Chandler Sawyer. Ask at the local galleries about these artists and others. One the best collections of decoys you can see (not purchase) is at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education in Corolla.

And then there is the all-encompassing world of locally made art. Besides food, it's the most affordable way to take home something made on Outer Banks. Whether you want wearable art, like clothing and jewelry; art for the home, like paintings, ceramics, photography, blacksmithing and recycled art; or art for the yard like sculpture and whirligigs, there is something here for you. I can't tell you about it all - these islands are like magnets for artists and there are just so many working here. I can only point you in the right direction.

There are galleries and studios in every area of the Outer Banks. If you want a concentrated area of galleries, look to the shopping areas of Corolla and Duck, Roanoke Island and Ocracoke. The galleries in Nags Head/Kill Devil Hills/Kitty Hawk and Hatteras Island are more spread out, but they are there and worth seeking out. Big conglomerations of local art can be found at the Dare County Arts Council Gallery in Manteo, The Art Village in Manteo and at KDH Cooperative in Kill Devil Hills. The best thing to do is to have a look at our Shopping sections in each local area. Browse those listings and you'll find galleries worth seeking out. I hope you can find something homegrown to add to your collection of stuff. Happy shopping!

So, I don't know if you've heard, but Guy Fieri of the Food Network has been on the Outer Banks for more than a week, filming segments in several local restaurants. Locals have been stoked to be extras in the filming, and we all can't wait to see which interviews with locals make the aired shows. Here's where he filmed: Outer Banks Brewing Station, Tortuga's Lie, Ortega'z, The Brine and Bottle, Black Pelican, Coastal Cravings and The Weeping Radish in Currituck. I hear there were others. He was even spotted on the beach with his family, filming a show about a family reunion on the Outer Banks. Thanks to the boost to the independent restaurants, Guy!

Nightlife is crazy this week...tons of stuff going. Take a look here. One highlight is Keller Williams at the Brewing Station on Thursday and Friday nights. You might want to try for advance tickets for those shows. Brewing Station also has a Michael Jackson tribute act, Who's Bad?, on Saturday.

On Thursday in Corolla there's a Seafood Feast and Live Music show at Currituck Heritage Park. Proceeds from the meals go to N.E.S.T., which helps protect locally nesting sea turtles.

You might want to try to catch the Manteo Farmers Market on Saturday. It's a great place to get locally grown food and locally made products.

On Saturday and Sunday, look for the Outer Banks Skim Jam, a skim-boarding contest on the beach in Nags Head that should be really fun to watch (or enter). The contest will be held at Jennette's Pier.

Next Tuesday is a must-do event in Waves: The Hatteras Surf Film and Music Festival. Besides some kick-A bands, there will be several surf films and short surf films shown. All this goes down at Kitty Hawk Kites' Waves Village Kiteboaring Resort on Tuesday, July 31 from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Keep looking around our By Day listings for more to do this week.

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Open Water Grill and a Triple Threat Package from OceanAir Sports!

For more information about Open Water Grill, check out their website.

For more information about OceanAir Sports, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Elizabeth Turbyfill!!!

You won a $50 gift certificate to Owens Restaurant and a $50 gift certificate to the Farmers Daughter!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Owens Restaurant, check out their website.

For more information about Farmer's Daughter, check out their website.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.