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What's in a Cotton Gin?

For those traveling to the Outer Banks, The Cotton Gin is a beloved landmark with its large windmill and picturesque gardens. The Cotton Gin has stood in the same location since 1929, starting as a working cotton gin and growing to a gift store with 4 locations.

See store hours below.
The Jarvisburg location is temporarily closed. 

Visitors are treated to a unique shopping experience at our beach stores in Corolla, Duck, and Nags Head. Explore room after room filled with décor for your home and coastal fashions for both men and women.

Discover the brands you really want, like, Vera Bradley, Vineyard Vines, La Mer Luxe, Simply Southern, Scout, Pandora, Brighton, Spartina, Southern Tide, Salt Life, Hey Dude, Katin USA, Marsh Wear, and Bogg Bags - all under one roof! Don't forget the gourmet market, or shop our beautiful linens for your bedroom and bath.

We also feature coastal books and fine art or just a whimsical fun gift to bring home to family and friends.

Stop by soon and don't forget to try our estate grown wines in our stores or visit our vineyard and winery, Sanctuary Vineyards, located adjacent to the original The Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.

 

FEATURED PROFILE

Adapting a Local Landmark

From Quaint Farm Market to Popular Retail Shop, the Wright Family Doesn't Shy Away from Change

Most know The Cotton Gin as a must-stop shop for fine gifts, beachwear, souvenirs and so much more, but this retailer has a long-standing history within the Outer Banks. A local landmark that holds almost a century of memories, The Cotton Gin started from humble beginnings and continues to adapt to the times and tourists. Tommy Wright's family has been in the Outer Banks for nearly 200 years. His great-great grandfather, Jacob Francis Wright, shipwrecked in Duck back in the early 1800s. Calling these barrier islands his new home, Wright and his family acclimated to their new environment.

Adaptation is a common theme for the Wright family. Tommy and his wife Candace, who continue to steer The Cotton Gin, have seen not only their business change with the times, but the Outer Banks as a vacation destination as well. A farm market in Jarvisburg eventually transformed and flourished into several retail locations dotting the Outer Banks.

"As the area changed and tourism took off in the 1960s, the family saw people coming for vacations, so they began to grow vegetables and things developed from there," says Tommy Wright. The Wright family expanded upon the farm market and began to remodel a working cotton gin, later transforming the gin into The Cotton Gin general store in the late 1960s. While the additions to the farm store drew visitors, it was their encounters with the Wright family that kept people coming back year after year, which is something that remains true today.

"It's still centered around the origin that you met the people and created a relationship," Wright explains. "That's why people would keep stopping to see us. They, of course, wanted to buy something from us, but they also wanted to see us again. That's what a small business is."

Because of that connection with their customers, the Wright family has never been afraid to take risks when it comes to The Cotton Gin, creating an even better experience for visitors.

After construction was completed to ease traffic on the Outer Banks, the Wrights took the opportunity to open additional locations and broaden their Cotton Gin vision. The Cotton Gin now has locations in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head, all offering the same family feel as the original Jarvisburg location people know and love.

Continuing to adapt, the Wright family planted grapes on their seaside Jarvisburg farm in 2002, later starting Sanctuary Vineyards. The vineyard, boasting about 25 acres of native, French and Italian grapes, is managed by Tommy and Candace's son, John Wright. "It's just another chapter in the story," Tommy says. "It's another generation that can do something on the land."

–Interview by Arielle Patterson

 

Store Hours
Open Daily, 10 AM - Closing

Hours are seasonal.

Corolla
Nags Head
Jarvisburg
Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Big Buck's Homemade Ice Cream

Serving our customers on the Outer Banks since 1994, Big Buck's ice Cream is dedicated serving you “The Best.” We offer a full line of super-premium ice cream products, smoothies, chocolates, and custom-made ice cream cakes! 2 locations are open all year: Kitty Hawk, at Buccaneer's Walk Shopping Center and Manteo, at The Waterfront Shops.

 

We offer a full line of Espresso Drinks from Hot Vanilla Cappuccinos and Hot Chocolate to Iced Caramel Lattes & Frozen Mochas, all made to order. Big Buck’s fresh fruit smoothies are lactose-free and made to order. Also offering lactose-free sorbets made from the best fruits available. Old time favorites are sure to please! Choose from a delicious collection of milkshakes, sundaes and banana splits.

 

Savor the moment with our Homemade Chocolate! Chocolates are made daily in each location. We offer a large selection from Dark to Milk to White. Milk Chocolate Oreos & Almond Toffee, Dark Chocolate Berries and Cherries Clusters & Hand-dipped Peppermint Patties with a Drizzle of White Chocolate, Extra-Dark Sea Salt Caramels & our famous homemade caramel chocolate pretzels oh & don’t forget the ever-popular caramel pecan turtle, just to name a few treats!

 

Belinda Pleva grew up serving ice cream out of her parent’s shop. She loved being part of what she calls “a happy business.” “I love it when people come into the shop and you hand them something, and it makes them smile,” Pleva says. “That moment when you hand an ice cream cone over to a little kid and their eyes just light up. That’s what I love about the ice cream business.”

 

In 1994, Pleva opened up her own ice cream and chocolate shop, Big Buck’s Ice Cream, in the brand-new Timbuk II Shopping Center in Corolla. Business was good, but something was missing.

 

“I was never satisfied with the ingredients in the ice creams and chocolates you could purchase back then. I wanted to serve my customers delicious flavors with ingredients they could actually pronounce,” Pleva says.

 

Pleva took a trip to Italy to study the gelaterias. She fell in love with the incredible flavors, and when she returned home to the Outer Banks, she began working tirelessly to perfect the flavors in her own ice cream.

 

Big Buck’s homemade ice cream combined the flavors of the Italian gelaterias and the richness of American ice cream. It quickly became a tourist favorite. After having the same unsatisfactory experience with the readymade chocolates she was selling, she also took a trip to Brussels to learn more about making handmade chocolates. Pleva brought the chocolate-making experience right back with her, and the result was the finest quality of chocolates on the Outer Banks.

 

After her huge success in the Corolla shop, Pleva was able to open up three more shops—one in Kitty Hawk, one in Manteo and one in Duck.

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