Campaign in Currrituck champions local business

By on August 13, 2012

The Outer Banks, which includes all of Currituck County in some fashion, is a virtual Mecca of small business.

Unlike other parts of the country, where government, manufacturing or large corporations dominate, entrepreneurs are the backbone of local employment.

But local residents may not understand how important supporting local businesses can be. As Diane Nordstrom, director of Currituck’s County’s Travel and Tourism Department, explains, their revenues contribute significantly to the local economy.

“It starts with tax revenues. The money locals spend here helps pay for the police, fire and other services we need,” Nordstrom says. “In addition, those sales revenues keep our neighbors employed.”

The cascading effect is evident. Not only are tax revenues generated, but those gross sale revenues pay the salaries of owners and workers, who as residents in turn own property (business and personal) that generates further revenues.

Which is why Currituck County started its Buy Local campaign, now in its third quarter.

Nordstrom and John Wiltgen, a marketing specialist for the Travel & Tourism Department, related how the idea of a Buy Local campaign was born.

Four years ago, one county commissioner, a couple of business owners and the county Economic Development Department began a discussion and thought it would be a great idea if a program could be developed to encourage people to spend money in Currituck County rather than outside their borders.

“There were a couple of meetings and some talk” Nordstrom recalls, “but the idea never went anywhere.”

The long-term economic crisis, which began locally in 2005 ,finally began to worry the county’s Tourism Department.

Alice James (right), owner of Mattress Direct in Moyock, and Judy Vassar, Currituck County Travel & Tourism staff member. James promotes the Buy Local Currituck campaign to her customers and has made donations for quarterly prize drawings.

About 18 months ago, as the economic slowdown lingered, the Tourism Department approached the county manager with an observation: “We know this isn’t directly tourist-related” the manager was informed, “but business after business is closing and it is definitely impacting tourism in Currituck. If these businesses keep closing there will be nowhere for tourists to stop on their way to the beach, much less support the business climate in Corolla.”

The county manager agreed, and the Buy Local campaign was revived. This time, the county Economic Development department and the Currituck County Chamber of Commerce joined forces to design a campaign.

The three entities shared data bases of businesses and began to reach out to the business community. The group hit the road and held meetings with business owners. They researched “Buy Local” programs across the nation and began to develop plan.

There are two components to the Buy Local campaign. The first is to educate local people on how important buying local is to the economy and to make them aware of “businesses in their own backyard” that may have escaped their attention, Nordstrom said.

The second was a plan to encourage the local community to patronize Currituck businesses. And, of course, any revenues generated from visitors are the frosting on the cake.

According to Nordstrom, “the business community was fantastic” with their ideas during the planning stage. And when she asked them if they would contribute prizes to an incentive campaign, “they said absolutely. We haven’t had to ask anyone for prize donations. The businesses stepped forward on their own. And they are very, very happy with the program.”

In fact, incentive prizes for the third quarter campaign come to over $3,000 so far.

The rules are on the Buy Local website, but in simple terms, people who buy local save five sales receipts of $3 or more from Currituck businesses. They can then mail those receipts in using envelopes supplied at participating businesses, or they can drop them off at county libraries, senior centers, visitor centers or the Currituck YMCA.

The county, using occupancy tax revenues, supports the program by supplying participating businesses with fliers, posters, door stickers, napkins, coasters and maps, as well the website and other forms of advertising. (Full disclosure: The Voice is one of the participating advertising outlets).

Entrants need not be locals, so visitors passing through Currituck or staying in the county for their vacation can save their receipts and enter the incentive program.

Local businesses can sign up on the website for free; there are no membership or other costs.

In fact, Nordstrom not only encourages local businesses to join the program, she is anxious for Currituck business owners to keep them apprised of any specials, open houses or other events that can be publicized as part of the program.

The Buy Local campaign recognizes many small businesses cannot afford media advertising, so the program provides a virtually no-cost vehicle for businesses to spread the word about their products and services.

Some examples of the prizes one can win for sending in those five receipts include a simple will, health power of attorney or a living will for couples from the Twiford Law Firm, P.C., as well as a “Whalehead Package” that includes a catered sunset dinner for two, a bottle of white wine, two tickets to the Whalehead’s “Wednesday Wine Festival, a private curator tour of the Whalehead Club, a $100 membership to the “Friends of Whalehead” and two tickets to the Anniversary Gala.

Wild Horse Adventure Tours is giving away a wild horse tour for two, and the Cotton Gin is offering up a $50 wine basket.

More than one prize is awarded each quarter, so there’s even more reason to participate.

Nordstrom wants locals to become involved. She related an anecdote about a local restaurant owner who told a customer he was heading to J.I. Hayman & Son in Coinjock to buy some hardware. He was told it was probably cheaper at The Home Depot in Dare County.

The business owner responded that in reality, Hayman’s prices were comparable to The Home Depot, and if one added in the gas and travel time, buying local was actually saving him money.

For visitors, Nordstrom wonders why anyone would visit a new area and not wish to sample the local restaurant flavors or unique retail products offered by local businesses — experiences and products you can’t buy anywhere else.

The program has already attracted the attention of Tyrell County, and Nordstrom was invited to speak to community leaders there about the Currituck program.

And, on a parting note, Nordstrom mentioned many people ask her when the program will end.

Her response is there are no plans to end the program. She envisions Buy Local Currituck as an ongoing process that will enhance the lives of residents and visitors alike.



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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