There’s a new place to buy art on the Outer Banks, and the shop is owner is a 17-year-old girl.
Gen Z Arts and Gifts celebrates its grand opening Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 7531 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head on the Manteo Causeway. Almost Heaven Bakery will be giving way Gen Z cupcakes and Tubbs Hot Dogs will also be there.
The Smiths plans to continue the festival atmosphere once a month the rest of the year with “Artisans by the Bay” at the waterfront shopping center.
Lauren Smith, the Gen Z of the new shop, is an aspiring artist who moved to the Outer Banks with her family from Virginia Beach last fall. She’d been telling her mom Michelle she didn’t want to work for a company when she graduates high school, so her mom suggested starting her own business.
“She’s learned a lot from seeing us as a retired military family,” Michelle Smith said. “I told her, the best kind of job is being able to work for yourself.”
This time last year, the Smith family had little idea they’d be living on the Outer Banks and running an arts and crafts shop. Like so many others, the pandemic made them consider leaving the bustle of urban life. They planned on retiring “somewhere down the road,” but took a trip to Asheville to check it out as a possible future home town.
On the way back to Virginia Beach from Asheville, the family stopped on the Outer Banks. And now they’re here for good.
Michelle Smith said she’s paying her daughter’s rent for her first year, giving Lauren time to learn how to run her own business.
News of the shop has been positive, with several local artists signed on to sell their creations at the Gen Z store. The Smiths have also found local suppliers and fellow small business owners to be a huge help.
“Everyone is embracing us,” Smith said. “It’s been amazing how the community has come together to help us. This community has something really special.”