May 26, 2017

“New” Farm Market in Buxton has Deep Local Roots


Visitors to the new Diamond Shoals Farm Market in Buxton may have a moment of déjà vu when they first step into the squat, one-story building that’s stationed along N.C. Highway 12.

The store’s shelves are already being lined with local crafts, buoys, and plenty of eye-catching seashells, and folks with a good eye and a great memory will note that these items are all hallmarks of another local Buxton gift shop that recently closed its doors after 25 years – the Old Gray House Gifts and Shells, which was owned by Dewey and Mary Parr.

And if the overall atmosphere as well as the merchandise of this “new” store feels familiar, there’s a pretty good reason for that.

“We started working on the store in November after we talked to Dewey who gave us the concept,” says Angela, who owns the store with her husband Keith Gray. “We wanted to make the store fun, and we wanted to preserve Dewey’s passion for shells, history, and stories of our family, and of Buxton.”

Yep, there’s another distinctive tie to the Old Gray Gifts and Shells – Keith and Dewey are family.

“Keith and Dewey are cousins,” says Angela, “and Dewey knowns so much about [the area.] I am hoping I can learn from him, and pass it down. Part of the local life is bringing our unique culture to visitors and sharing our stories, and we want to bring that local flair to Buxton.”

The local crafts and wonderfully distinctive shell collection may be familiar for longtime Buxton fans, but as the name would aptly suggest, the Diamond Shoals Farm Market has a lot more up its sleeve besides the traditional island gifts and goods.

The covered outdoor exterior, which is already packed with wooden bins and rustic shelves, is about to be stocked with fresh produce from Elizabethtown, central North Carolina, and other relatively close-to-home areas where the local veggies are as good as it gets.

“We’re going to stock our farm market with all the great seasonal stuff you can get from May to October,” says Angela. “My passion is health and nutrition, and a lot of people are paying attention to their diet, and want to eat as healthy as possible. If I can help, and bring those fresh foods to the Buxton community, that’s my ultimate goal.”

The Farm Market is a new endeavor for Keith and Angela, and one of the biggest ambitions is to have a local co-op, where the Grays can send out a list of what’s available, and locals can order all the veggies they want in bulk. “It’s new and it’s challenging, and we’ll have to see how much interest there is in a local co-op,” says Keith, “but we would love to have that available for the community.”

In addition to the produce, which is scheduled to arrive around this weekend’s opening date to ensure it’s as fresh as possible for the wave of Memorial Day visitors, Angela has stocked a few other local goodies that will garner interest from food fans.

A section of the store’s bright interior is dedicated to jams, jellies, preserves, and even Muscadine cider – which has some pretty unique ties to the Outer Banks region.

“The Muscadine [cider] is actually connected to a 400-year-old Muscadine vine on Mother Vine Road in Manteo,” says Angela. “This [cider] actually comes from its ‘babies,’ or the descendants of that main vine, so there’s a nice local tie-in.”

In addition, Angela and Keith have been working with local jewelers who specialize in sea glass and copper, a soap company from Ocracoke, stone art from Currituck, and other vendors who are close to home.

And longtime Buxton visitors who happen to pop in may be surprised to find another local addition within the store…

“Dewey will also be here from time to time,” says Keith. “He wants to be retired, but he still wants to be active and he likes people, and talking with our visitors.”

Simply put, the Diamond Shoals Farm Market is shaping up to be a pretty unique destination for the heart of Buxton. Part nostalgia, part local gift store, and part produce market, this store may be “new” in the literal sense, but it’s part of a wave of shops all along the island that pays homage to local roots.

“Every village has its own niche; its own local flavor,” says Angela. “Hatteras and Avon feel completely different from Buxton, and they have their own shops that [highlight] their distinctive culture.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do, and we hope this will bring more attention to Buxton,” she adds. “Visitors want more uniqueness, and a connection to the island… And that’s what we are trying to provide.”

The Diamond Shoals Market is located on NC Highway 12 in northern Buxton, next to the Diamond Shoals Restaurant.

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