April 4, 2012

UPDATE:  More new businesses open on Ocracoke

By CONNIE LEINBACH


Like spring flowers, businesses continue to bloom on Ocracoke.

Three new businesses have opened or will open soon on the island.

La Isla, a new Mexican grocery store that opened March 30 in Spencer’s Market, offers an international variety of food and other staples.

Items such as “Takis” chips, marzipan, drinkable yogurt, spicy nuts, Mexican vegetable shortening, candy bars and sodas are available for purchase, noted manager, Karla Ortiz.
There are also cleaning supplies, sandals, brassieres and make-up for sale.

“We’re really excited about it,” Ortiz said about the new venture.

She has grown up in the green-grocer business as her parents, who are the owners of La Isla, own two similar food stores in Washington and Greenville.

La Isla, which means “the island” in Spanish, will be open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Later in the summer, Ortiz will have longer hours.

And by then, the store will have more shelves and bins with more items for sale, such as produce, cheeses, sausage, tortillas and popsicles. She also will offer money orders for sale and check cashing.

Ortiz said she has been on the island for a year and got the idea for a store after working at Eduardo’s Taco Stand along Highway 12.

When asked why she hadn’t set up shop in the now-closed Community Store, Ortiz said the Community Store was still open when she signed on at her current location.

“Besides, Mexican stores are (typically) small,” she said.

Angie Todd, who is the island social worker and Turbo Kick guru, embodies the adage that “you’re never too old to dream,” as her recently-flowered dream of owning a gym is coming to fruition.

The full-service gym is being built behind her home on Sand Dollar Road, under the aegis of her husband, Andy Todd, the island electrician who is the contractor on the gym building.

“This has turned out to be my passion,” Angie said as she explained the layout of the two-story structure taking shape.  “I just love (fitness) so much.”

Ground was broken a few weeks ago and she hopes to open the gym in July and sell day, weekly, monthly, and yearly passes. Hours will be from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The first floor will be a typical gym with three treadmills, two bikes, three elliptical machines, free weights, strength training and a universal-type machine.  There also will be a shower area.
The second floor will be for exercise classes.

While Angie will be the chief exercise instructor, she may eventually have to hire others.

“I want to find someone to do ballet, or gymnastics or martial arts for little kids,” she said, a service which is lacking on the island.

An exercise aficionado for the last 10 years, Angie has taught the popular Turbo Kickboxing class for the last two years to a growing group of followers.

The class is most often held in the Ocracoke Community Center, but has also been held in the Ocracoke School gym and even on the porch of the Sweet Tooth or the lifeguard beach, when no facilities have been available.

She got the fitness bug after losing about 50 pounds doing video workouts.

“But those types of exercise can be so boring,” she said.

When she discovered Turbo Kickboxing, the moves were challenging and, most of all, kept her interest.

“The tape was over and I thought, ‘Did I just work out?’”

She soon received her teacher certification in kickboxing.

The idea of having her own space to conduct classes was the dream that evolved from her classes’ popularity.

And she loves seeing how it benefits her students.

“I just love to see people making positive changes in their health,” she said.

In a couple of weeks sister and brother team Lindsey and Ryan Rhodes, newcomers to the island, will open another coffee shop on the island, Live Oak Coffee, located in the historic Dixon-Williams house, beside the Mermaid’s Folly shop in the village.

“We’re excited to be here,” Lindsey said, noting that this is the first time she and her brother have ever been this far east.

Lindsey, from California, and Ryan, from Chicago, arrived on the island a couple of weeks ago to take on running the coffee shop sight unseen.  The financers of the shop, Karl and Deanna Lehmann, are relatives and have a house on the island.

While Lindsey just completed her master’s degree in human services and exercise science, she has many years working in coffee shops.  Ryan, too, recently graduated from college with a degree in Spanish and global studies.

“We’re both at the time of life where we can take the time to do this for a while,” Lindsey said. “We’ve experienced the coffee culture all over the country.”

On the menu will be Counter Culture Coffee, a fair-trade coffee out of Durham, Ryan said. This company supplies coffees from different growing regions that change throughout the year, depending on which coffees are in season.

Live Oak also expects to have tea, espresso and some food items.

The shop will be open at 6 a.m. into the evening. Hours are still being determined.

In the meantime, they are fixing the place up for customers and enjoying the island culture.

“I really want to learn and embrace the culture here,” Lindsey said. “The beach is mind-blowing. It’s so empty.”

Also, Blue Heron Realty has moved to a new location along Irvin Garrish Highway in the Spencer’s Market complex.

Finally, Susie Kennedy’s Halo Hair Studio will change ownership at the end of April.  Kennedy is leaving the island to travel across the country and relocate to Portland, Ore.

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