Shallotte’s Southern Charm and Scott’s Farm & Family
With Southern Charm Co. and Scott’s Farm & Family, two families have brought new life to two old properties in the heart of town.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Christian Viera
The old Dyke’s Tire shop sat vacant for a good many years before Sammy and Lisa Varnam drove by and had an idea.
“It was sad to see the untapped potential right in the middle of downtown Shallotte,” Sammy says.
Just one meeting with the Town of Shallotte convinced the couple that purchasing the property would be worth it. “The entire Town of Shallotte staff is so friendly and pro business, we knew it was a good idea,” he adds. The prime location on the corner of Shallotte Avenue and Main Street had been home to the Shady Park Exxon and Dyke’s Tires since the early 1940s.
Just behind the old brick service station sat a vacant, 60-year-old colonial Cape Cod house that the Arnold family formerly called home. “It was a perfect place for me to open my own shop,” Lisa says. “I had been thinking about it for some time.”
The location for the new Southern Charm Co. was decided.
The house renovations revealed strong bones, so Lisa relied on many of the original features to create a unique shop. “We kept it as original as was functional,” the Supply native says. “I just wanted that homey feel.”
Old doors became display tables and backdrops for clothing lines. The former bathroom became a fitting room, and each and every inch of space was considered for display of the clothing, jewelry, gifts, home décor and a few product lines made in the South, including the line of Spartina handbags manufactured in South Carolina.
“I didn’t want this to be just another ladies’ boutique,” Lisa says. “My passion is decorating and design and I wanted to offer something that we just did not have in downtown Shallotte.” She transforms the shop with each season, adding products for home décor and gifts as well as clothing and jewelry.
An entire room is dedicated to coastal cottage décor, including sculptures, wreaths, florals, signs and more. Lisa had the porch closed in and renovated using the ship-lap siding from an old shed behind the house. “We loved using every old piece that we could salvage,” she says.
The Varnams repurposed an old wooden shelving unit from the service station that once held spark plugs and other auto parts to now hold candles, potpourri and home fragrances. They brought over the original ladies’ room door from the garage to display clothing and jewelry.
Opened in June with three employees, Southern Charm Company is enjoying an early success. “We have already expanded our clothing lines and added more home décor,” Lisa says. “It is an exciting time to be a shop in downtown Shallotte.”
The Service Station
Meanwhile at the old service station on Main Street, Sammy Varnam met with his good friend Will Scott of Chadbourn Feeds. “Will wanted to expand into Shallotte, and this was the perfect location,” Sammy says.
The location for the new Scott’s Farm & Family was decided.
The Varnams and the Scotts rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Hunter and Easton Varnam and Ethan, Luke and Andrew Scott pitched in with their fathers. Andrew, a recent graduate of North Carolina State University, was slated to manage the new feed store. “It was all hands on deck,” Andrew Scott says. “We had so much help.”
The Scott family’s entry into the feed and seed industry began in 1961 when Andrew’s grandfather went to work for a feed distributor in Chadbourn and bought the business outright in 1977. It has been family owned and operated ever since, spanning three generations. “Chadbourn Feed is the primary Purina Feed supplier for the surrounding counties,” Andrew says.
After more than five months of renovating the old building inside and out, Scott’s Farm & Family opened in May 2016. “We wanted to come to Shallotte, when Jack Soles decided to retire,” Andrew says. Soles had operated Jack’s Farm and Garden from the Old Macdonald Farm building on Main Street until 2015.
“Mr. Jack was a long-time customer of ours and Dad really wanted to continue to support the Shallotte community,” Andrew says.
“We even have Jack’s old scales,” adds Belinda Williams, co-manager of the Shallotte shop. “Customers love the ability to come and measure out the exact amount of seed they want.”
Williams comes to the business with more than 25 years of Western apparel and feed experience. “I feel strongly about filling a need in the local community,” the Leland native says.
The antique scales were not the only gift to the new store. “A customer in Chadbourn offered all the wood used inside and out,” Andrew says. Two old saws and a former mule harness transformed into a mirror also decorate the space.
The renovations were not just cosmetic. Work also included digging out the former grease pit by hand, repairing the roof, adding a wrap-around porch and opening up walls. The old outside bathroom has been turned into a live cricket cage. “People buy them to feed reptiles as well as to fish with,” Williams says.
The look has a country-store rustic appeal with modern conveniences. “We poured a new polished and painted concrete floor and added HVAC,” Andrew says.
During the first few weeks, customers came in with pictures and stories about the former service station. “We heard personal family stories about this building,” Williams says. “We even learned that the first fire truck that Shallotte ever had was stored in this garage.”
Along with feed and seed, the shop carries Traeger grills, pet supplies, lawn and garden products, Yeti coolers and more. Shoppers can browse through displays of birdhouses, birdfeeders and bird seed; deer feed and supplements; and everything needed to start a backyard flock from live chicks to the henhouse. “Backyard flocks are really big now,” Williams says. “People want to have their own chickens and their own eggs so they can at least control a small part of their food.”
There are a variety of local products as well, from handmade porch swings to bath supplies to honey and sauces. “We really want to serve as a shop that sells local products,” Williams says. They sell the Beach and Barn collection, based in Wilmington, which includes a variety of T-shirt designs, hats and drink holders.
The inventory for the shop started out lean in May. “We brought in the basics, what we thought might sell. We didn’t over do it, and now we are responding to what customer’s request,” Andrew says. That response includes fishing bait, organic lawn and garden supplies and organic feeds. “We even order live game fish for customers,” he says.
The Scotts feel working in tandem with the community is very important. “The Town of Shallotte and the Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce have been so supportive,” Andrew says. “Everyone has bent over backwards to help support the shop.”
In turn, the Scotts are giving back to the community. To date the store has hosted two seminars, one on wildlife-plot management and another for horse owners. “We bring in experts to demonstrate new products or technology to help our customers expand their understanding,” Williams says.
Plans are underway for collaborative efforts with the local 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) clubs. The store is also participating with West Brunswick High School Transition Job Coach, employing a student from that program.
“Feed is what we do the best,” Williams says. “But we are so much more than just a feed store; we have something for everybody.”
Andrew agrees: “We named it Scott’s Farm & Family because it stands for who we serve — your two-legged family and your four-legged family.”
Want to Go?
Southern Charm Company
WHERE: 110 Shallotte Ave., Shallotte
HOURS: Monday through Friday 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday 10 am to 3 pm
INFO: (910) 754-4141; facebook.com/thesoutherncharmcoshallotte
Scott’s Farm & Family
WHERE: 4718 Main St., Shallotte
HOURS: Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 6 pm; Saturday 8:30 am to 3 pm
INFO: (910) 755-6055;