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Grin & Bear It

Article Published: May. 10, 2012 | Modified: May. 10, 2012
Grin & Bear It

Darrell and Andrea Byrd run Bear Creek Traders, a new gift shop specializing in handmade and local items, in Foscoe.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Say you have a friend who lives off the mountain.

That friend has a birthday, and you want to get them something special, something locally made.
Chances are you’ll find something emblazoned with “Boone,” “Blue Ridge,” “Blowing Rock” or “The High Country,” accompanied by a subtle “Made in China.”

Andrea and Darrell Byrd plan to change that. The couple has just opened Bear Creek Traders in Foscoe, specializing in homegrown, handmade and local gifts.

A crafter extraordinaire, Andrea Byrd was meeting with some likeminded friends, when she joked, “We ought to have a store.”

Darrell Byrd immediately started searching for locations, preferably something with a rustic feel. They found an old building in Foscoe, formerly home to a cabinet store, that some say dates back more than 100 years ago.

“Tweetsie Railroad ran next door from here,” Darrell said. “A fellow who came in here remembers getting on the train here and riding to Boone or Johnson City (Tenn.).”

While the building is old, most of Bear Creek Traders’ merchandise is new. The store features original and consignment items, including locally made pottery, jewelry, T-shirts, quilts, baskets, collectibles, birdhouses, soy candles, organic soaps – what Andrea calls “a little bit of everything.”

That includes cabin décor, such as humorous signs and wood carvings, as well as a gift-wrap section to make gift-giving all the easier.

A vintage section features used furniture, books and other novelties, with more always on the way.
The Byrds also contribute, with Andrea regularly crafting quilts, purses and embroidered items (including T-shirts) and Darrell making the candles and soaps.

“I made my first quilt when I was 15 years old on my grandma’s Treadwell sewing machine,” Andrea said. “A lot of our (consigners) are friends we’ve met over the years, kind and talented people, and some who’ve come in since we opened.”

Darrell’s lived in the High Country for 18 years and Andrea 16, meaning they’ve got plenty of friends – and inventory. Some provide stained glass, others jewelry and another furnishes oil paintings. “It’s a labor of love,” Darrell said.

Andrea said they eventually hope to expand the store. When that time comes, they’ll be well equipped. Darrell’s a professional carpenter, and the two painted and modified the space themselves. They also manage and run the store with no additional help, Andrea said, to keep the prices low for customers.

So far, customer reaction has been positive.

“Some people say it has an old-timey general store charm to it,” Darrell said, “which is what we were looking for.”

Bear Creek Traders opened about a month ago, but is hosting its grand opening this weekend for Mothers Day, from Friday to Sunday, May 11 to 13. Mothers Day gift baskets will be on sale, as will greeting cards. Those shopping during the grand opening get a free bottle of water with every purchase, and anyone who mentions The Mountain Times throughout grand opening week will earn a 10 percent discount.

Bear Creek Traders is located at 8645 N.C. 105 South in Foscoe. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hours are expected to extend over the summer. For more information, call (828) 963-1183.

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