Think BIG. Shop SMALL.

Friend, your local small businesses need you. 

This weekend, I'm spending a few unexpected days in southwest Virginia. A last-minute trip to Wise and Scott Counties with my dad gave me an opportunity to wish a favorite local eatery farewell. Sugar Hill Brewery and Sugar Hill Cidery, in St. Paul and Norton respectfully, will close their doors after a three year run on December 4th. And I couldn't be more sad about this.

If you're not from Appalachia or haven't really spent any amount of time there, maybe it won't hit you the same way. But these communities don't typically have this type of vibe, this type of fare or this type of fanfare. Sugar Hill has been a hidden gem in the Wise County region and beyond. Not only are the beers and ciders on point, but the food is fantastic. (Just tell me how to bottle whatever they did to the grilled cheese I devoured moments ago.) 

Southwest Virginia isn't Gatlinburg... Don't get me wrong. Its natural beauty rivals and even surpasses, in my humble opinion, what you'll find in Tennessee. But this region is still relatively untouched by tourism, I suspect for a variety of reasons. A business that would typically thrive in either of the communities where our boutiques are based is fighting an uphill battle in these parts. For its part, Sugar Hill fought the good fight. But local support is critical, especially in an environment of fast-rising food and labor costs. And this eatery is a hub in St. Paul and Norton alike.The symbiotic relationship between the brewery and the neighboring Western Front Hotel is undeniable, and the local coffee shop and BBQ place also mesh well. AirBnB options actually exist here, and you can hit the trails on an ATV rental. (I have yet to be so brave.) Point blank? These businesses all contribute to create a sense of community, and they are all interdependent.

The communities in which you'll find our boutiques, Bellefontaine and Tipp City, are no different. Whether you live near us or far away, I'm challenging you to spend an entire week or weekend exploring your downtown. Pretend you've never been, and see it all with new eyes. You'll gain an appreciation for what these businesses offer your community, and you'll make their owners' days by just supporting their endeavors.

Small businesses have weathered a challenging couple of years, and this year has hit some of us harder than anticipated. Blame whoever or whatever you like, but the reality is that we need you. YOU. And you need us. Let's hang together and keep the unique vibe going in our downtowns that we love so much. Come see us.

While you're planning your next trip, I'll be here for a hot minute planning how to make your experience even more amazing. Promise.

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