Fire has closed the Cotton Gin indefinitely, but the family behind the “90-year-old cotton gin-turned-country market” says the support of the community “means to much to us right now.”
The Saturday afternoon blaze appeared to start in the attic, possibly due to an electrical issue, with employees and customers still inside the store at 6957 Caratoke Highway in Currituck County. A passerby alerted the people inside to the flames and everyone got out safely.
Firefighters fought the blaze for hours, but the building was destroyed.
The Cotton Gin started as a general store back in the late 1960s — owned by the Wright family, farmers who bought a working cotton gin back in the 1950s.
In the 1980s, the family opened the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg, and the store quickly became a popular stop for visitors on the way to and from the beach. Since then, the business has expanded with locations in Nags Head, Duck and Corolla. The family also owns and operates Sanctuary Winery.
“My grandparents sold homegrown produce there, my parents and uncle added on to create a quirky country store, and it doubled and tripled in size by the late 1990s,” wrote John Wright, son of owners Tommy and Candy Wright, in an emotional Facebook post.
“When I asked if I could start a vineyard and sell local wine in 2002, they let me take over the small dimly lit basement as my ‘tasting room.’ All of that is physically gone now. But something good has to happen next, even if I’m not sure what that means.”
Wright said the family appreciates the support of the community and “the local first responders and fire crews who spent hours that turned into days fighting the blaze.”
“We will be closed at the original Cotton Gin indefinitely, there is no way around it,” he wrote. “I so wish I could turn this sign around and let everyone in right now, and I hope that one day soon we can.”
While the original Cotton Gin is closed, there are other locations to visit in Corolla, Duck and Nags Head, along with Sanctuary Vineyards in Currituck.
“Thanks for all the kind words, it means so much to us right now,” Wright wrote.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.