Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just Bring Yer Toothbrush! Fred's General Mercantile on Top of Beech Mountain, NC

Well, considering the weather forecasts for the next couple of days on Beech Mountain (They're promising us a snowstorm, no less!), the child in us all is probably clamoring for a trip to where the snow will be most plentiful. From the sound of things, for snow in the South, Beech Mountain is probably your best bet.

But the adult in us chimes in to remind us of the chore of packing - and packing for cold weather for your family can be serious work. And when you're more than Five Thousand Feet up, it's not like there's a Mall on every corner - there aren't even many corners up there! So what if you forget to pack something? Something important? I mean, a person could get chapped skin or cold ears!!

NEVER FEAR! On top of Beech Mountain, we have Fred's General Mercantile (only a couple minutes from Beech Mountain Bliss)!!!

Fred's has been doing business in the Town of Beech for 30 years now (In fact, their 30-year anniversary is next week.). Their motto is: "If we don't have it . . . You don't need it!" And, it's really true!

Speaking as the designated suitcase packer for the family (and unfortunately, the most absent-minded member of the family), when we come up to spend some time on the Mountain, we're usually popping over to Fred's once each day (sometimes twice) to pick up something I forgot to pack. Luckily, this is a pleasurable experience, since the variety of things you can get there continues to be a source of great amusement for all of us (often inspiring great admiration for their re-stocking system).

You see, our family has a game. It's called "The Fred's Store Challenge." The only rule is, that the thing you are looking for at Fred's has to be something you genuinely need. We haven't determined what the prize is yet - you know, for the person who actually comes up with something he or she needs which Fred's doesn't stock. It just hasn't come up yet.

Here's a short list of things we have needed while up on Beech - and we found 'em all at Fred's:

Parmesan Cheese (for one fab cheese dip recipe - a later blog post, perhaps)
Cranberry Juice
A Wedding Gift
A Kite
A Hot, Sit-Down Meal - often with Live Chipmunk Entertainment (No, not like at Chuck E Cheese's)
Entertainment (Puzzles, Rental DVDs, Magic Tricks)
A Nice Bottle of Wine (many times)
Stuffed Animals (my daughter has a yen)
Crocs (Well, we just wanted these. They are yellow!)
A Whisk (for making homemade whipped cream)
Paint (High-gloss Enamel, I believe it was.)
A Cold Chisel (There were 4 different kinds to chose from!)

Yes, we really did need a cold chisel! Don't you just love those surprises you get in the middle of those "weekend projects" (like installing a new wooden floor in your condo)? On that occasion, our surprise was that we needed to chip out a bit underneath our stone hearth to allow space for the expansion and contraction of the new wood floor. Fred's really saved that project, as we were running a little too short on time to drive to Lowe's Hardware in Banner Elk. You can imagine our elation and relief.

Anyway, when you're on Beech, you'll be on vacation, and probably not in need of a cold chisel. However, the list of things you can get at Fred's has vacationers well covered. They have Ski & Snowboarding rental equipment & safety gear, high-quality outerwear, hats, gloves, socks, snow chains, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments and high-end gifts (oh, and there's a Tree Farm), trail maps and nature watching guides, sandals and sweatshirts, towels, wine glasses, bird feeders, homemade pies & raisin bread (Oh, the heavenly smell, just when those loaves are just out of the oven at Fred's Backside Deli! (Best to call ahead for the Deli's hours, as they tend to be seasonal).

I am leaving out many things, to be sure. But this was supposed to be a short blog post. I'll come back to this again in the Summer. But the point I'm making is this: you could come to the mountain and forget all your luggage, and you'd be just fine. Because anything you'd need would be at Fred's. And they're open early in the morning, until late at night, seven days a week all year long - they only close early on Christmas eve and open late on Christmas Day.

Oh, yes! I almost forgot! Really, you could leave your toothbrush at home too! Fred's, as you may have guessed, stocks these too - in many attractive colors.

Happy Winter Vacationing!

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