Bettie Kellogg learned to drive a truck before she ever drove a car. Her dad, Gordon Kellogg (who founded Kellogg Supply Company 70 years ago) perhaps erring on the side of caution, declined to let his daughter drive the family car.
“I wanted to learn how to drive and my dad wasn’t about to let me drive his car,” Bettie says. “When I wanted to learn to drive I drove the trucks on the yard.”
She doesn’t drive trucks anymore—she has a driver’s license and a car —- but that story speaks volumes about Kellogg’s as a family business and Bettie’s attitude toward achieving a goal.
In many ways Bettie represents the legacy of her father. She is proud that Kelloggs, even with five locations, has remained a family run business that is a hallmark of the Outer Banks community.
From an early age she remembers what it meant to be involved in the family business. She recalls employees coming to the Kellogg home if things were tight. “Mr. Kellogg I’m short about $15. Can you help me out?” they would ask.
“You became a part of the Kellogg family,” she said. “That’s the difference in a family business.”
The company has changed over the years— it has evolved, moved with the times. The Manteo and Kill Devil Hills locations are still very much like the original Kelloggs. “When my dad was alive he was very much ‘this is a man’s world.’ It was hardcore lumber,” Bettie said.
The changes began soon after the Kelloggs opened their Duck location in 1986.
It was apparent that the northern towns of Duck and Corolla were the new boom areas of the Outer Banks, so putting a store in Duck made sense. But as the homes began to go up, the market really began to change.
“By the late 80s they (the customers) were coming in looking for home accessories,” Bettie explains. The lumber was a basic necessity and the hardware was useful, but what the customers were really after were towels, silverware and china for their rental homes.
That called for a completely different way to view the merchandise and what would make the store successful.
First came a new name. “We had a contest among the employees for the name. One of the guys that worked in the yard came up with it,” Bettie says.
They found a manager who understood the product and how to show it. “Carol Bruce came from a design (background),” she said. Although Carol is no longer at the store, Bettie still pays tribute to her. “I call Carol the birth mother of the Cottage Shop,” she says.
The store became a labor of love for Bettie as well. Although she was raising three boys, she found room in her heart for a new passion. “When the Cottage Shop came, that was sort of my (retail) birth child,”she says. “I sort of rolled up my sleeves and I loved it.”
There was, at first, some confusion about the role or the store. “Some of that pervasive male attitude was still there,” she recollects. “You can imagine a truck of windows or a truck of lumber versus delivering pillows and sheets and towels to a cottage.”
Success, as the saying goes, begets success, and certainly in the first years, being in the right place at the right time was helpful. For the first ten years there was no real competition for what the Cottage Shop was offering. The continued success, though, is a result of customer service and a personal touch.
It is part of the family legacy that Bettie learned from her father. “It is a family business,” she say. “This is part of my blood. It’s an intangible,” she adds.