Long-Standing Outer Banks Businesses
Among the multitude of new homes springing up along the shoreline and new enterprises that sprout each year with fanfare and hope, there exists a core of Outer Banks businesses that have become a part of the fabric of local life.
Hairoics Spa & Salon
Celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2015, Jim and Sandy Williams built Hairoics on the basic principles that you have to remain very good at what you do and that customers should always be pampered. Their Kill Devil Hills location is staffed with professional hair stylists who understand current style and color trends, many who have been with the couple for years. Over time, they have expanded their business beyond styling by adding a day spa and massage rooms. It’s rare for a hair salon to flourish for 25 years, but Jim and Sandy have created a great model on how to retain customer loyalty!
Kitty Hawk Kites
In 1974 hang gliding was the newest extreme sport. John Harris and Ralph Buxton got a film on how to fly, and they climbed up on Jockey’s Ridge and practiced until they were convinced they could teach others the sport. As the saying goes … the rest is history. Ralph is no longer associated with Kitty Hawk Kites, but John Harris continues to manage as president. The original store is still in operation at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing in Nags Head, but the company has expanded exponentially and now offers a wide range of recreational activities. The Kitty Hawk Kites hang gliding school is the oldest on record and is credited with teaching over 100,000 people to fly.
There really wasn’t much in Kitty Hawk in 1957 when Winks first opened its doors. Frank Stick and his son, David, were building flattops up in Southern Shores, there were a handful of beachfront cottages and a couple of motels, but that was the extent of development. The store has had a couple of different owners over the years, but it’s always managed to retain that same neighborhood feel. The shelves are lined with convenient store necessities and everything needed for the beach, and you have to check out their lunch and dinner specials from the kitchen tucked away in the back! Walking through the doors is a pleasant step back in time.
Gray’s Family Department Stores
Walter Gray had a vision that the Outer Banks would one day be a tourist Mecca. He may have been ahead of his time in 1948 when he opened his Nags Head store, but it’s now quite clear that he was onto something! The Nags Head store on the Beach Road closed a number of years ago, moving to the present Kitty Hawk location. The building still stands and is now Seagreen Gallery (another great local business). Mr. Gray passed away in 2004, but his legacy lives on through his sons and daughter who still run the family business.
When George Creef, Jr. opened the Pioneer Theater in 1918 there was good reason to doubt his sanity. Manteo was barely a village, there were at most 5,000 people in the county and no roads connecting the villages with the county seat. George’s vision has resulted in The Pioneer Theater becoming the oldest theater nationwide that has been continuously owned by the same family. George’s great-great-grandson, Buddy Creef, owns and operates it today. For those curious about how movie theaters once were, Pioneer Ticket prices are about $4.00 less than first run theaters and they pop their own corn!