They say that every time you support a local business, a real person somewhere does a little happy dance. And guess what? Hampton Roads, Virginia is brimming with locally-owned businesses just waiting for you to join in! In this vibrant and diverse region of Virginia, prepare to uncover the heart and soul of the community. Places that weave a beautiful tapestry of culture, creativity, and togetherness. From charming boutiques to mouthwatering eateries and luxury stays, there’s no shortage of hidden gems across the 757.
In partnership with Virginia Tourism, I had the opportunity to visit Norfolk, Hampton, and Virginia Beach. Here are 10+ locally-owned businesses I visited that you should add to your list.
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1. The Magnolia House Inn
Nestled in the heart of Hampton, the Magnolia House Inn exudes a charm that captures the essence of southern hospitality. Recently recognized as one of the best by Travel and Leisure, this bed and breakfast offers an unforgettable stay that will leave you feeling cherished and pampered. The moment you step through the doors, the welcoming atmosphere creates an immediate sense of home away from home. Each morning, you’re treated to a freshly cooked breakfast, served family-style around a communal dining table, fostering a sense of togetherness and camaraderie among guests. The comfortable beds are like clouds! It’s tempting to linger a little longer and savor the coziness of your room. As if that’s not enough, special touches like bedside chocolates and complimentary wine add a touch of elegance to your stay.
With its blend of southern charm and impeccable hospitality, the Magnolia House Inn sets itself apart as a gem among accommodations. The establishment embraces diversity and welcomes guests from all walks of life, creating an inclusive and enriching environment for all who visit. The attentive and personable owners go above and beyond to ensure that every guest’s needs are met, making each stay a cherished and unforgettable memory. The Magnolia House Inn is warmth, comfort, and an appreciation for genuine hospitality.
2. Mango Mangeaux
Mango Mangeaux is a culinary treasure nestled in the Phoebus neighborhood of Hampton, igniting a spark that brings life to the entire community. This Black-owned brunch spot boasts a delightful fusion of French, Creole, and Neosoul flavors, with dishes such as Lemon Butter Shrimp and Grits (SO good, btw) and Sweet Potato Fresh Toast. As if its mouthwatering dishes weren’t impressive enough, the eatery has an exciting accolade under its belt – it was featured on the renowned show Shark Tank for their delicious mango preserves.
Beyond its exquisite menu, Mango Mangeaux has become a beacon of inspiration in Phoebus, sparking a thriving boom of other localbusinesses opening their doors and attracting hordes of visitors to the neighborhood. Be sure to also visit the nearby Scratch Bakery and 1865 Brewing Co. – both Black-owned businesses within a few minutes walk.
3. Pure Lagos
Pure Lagos in downtown Norfolk is an absolute gem that captivates the senses and celebrates the vibrant African culture across the diaspora. As an African art gallery and community space, it offers a feast for the eyes, showcasing exquisite artwork that reflects the richness of the continent’s heritage. But Pure Lagos is much more than just an art gallery; it’s a cultural hub where visitors can immerse themselves in the essence of African traditions. Enjoy jollof rice, African root tea and more. Stop in on their lively roundtable discussions. And if you’re looking for a colorful event space, look no further than their Bogobiri Art Haus, located in Norfolk’s Neon District.
4. North End Bag Co.
Virginia Beach, VA
When you enter North End Bag Company’s shop, the distinctly-satisfying smell of genuine leather fills the air. Inside, an expansive collection of hand-crafted canvas and leather goods awaits, each piece a testament to their decade-long expertise in the industry. From stylish bags to exquisite accessories, their commitment to quality, strength, and durability is evident. In the back of the shop, you can witness the artistry in action and watch them shape raw materials into timeless staple items. This small-batch production company packs a punch with their goods made to last a lifetime.
Freshtopia is the “home of everything fresh” as a great stop for music enthusiasts – and stepping inside feels like entering a treasure trove of gems. As one of the 30 black-owned record shops in America, it carries significance in the local community. From classic old-school records to the latest releases, you’ll find a diverse and carefully curated collection that spans genres and eras. And the best part? You might even catch DJ Bee spinning some beats on his very popular livestream.
6. 350 Grace
Tucked discreetly in an unassuming strip mall, 350 Grace may be hidden from plain sight, but it is an absolute treasure worth seeking out. For over three decades, Chef Moats, a proud Norfolk native, has skillfully led the culinary team at some of Hampton Roads’ most successful restaurants. Now, he serves up modern Southern cuisine, using only the freshest ingredients to create dishes that evoke both comfort and innovation. And surprisingly, everything on the menu boasts gluten-free. Among their many mouth-watering dishes, the salmon fritters and tender pork loin stand out as true highlights. As you step into this hidden gem, tucked away in the back corner of Ghent, you’ll be transported on a culinary journey that embraces tradition but doesn’t hesitate to innovate.
7. Get Well Soon
Get Well Soon is a true self-care sanctuary founded by the inspiring duo of Virginia Thornton and Zahra Ahmad, who turned their personal experiences with anxiety and depression into a beacon of healing for their community. Driven by the desire to create a safe space for self-care, they established a relaxation haven. Offering a diverse array of services like guided meditation, infrared sauna sessions, yoga classes, massages, and facials, a visit here ensures that every aspect of your well-being is attended to.
8. Lolly’s Creamery
Virginia Beach, VA
Ice cream lovers, rejoice! Lolly’s Creamery in Virginia Beach is a charming creamery with a diverse selection of handcrafted ice cream flavors, each crafted with love and care. Whether you’re in the mood for classic favorites such as chocolate or feeling adventurous enough to try their unique creations, like “Neptune’s Fury Coffee,” each scoop promises a blissful indulgence set on a backdrop of pastel blues and nostalgic décor.
9. Jars of Dust
Virginia Beach, VA
Located near Virginia Beach’s serene oceanfront, Jars of Dust is a local pottery shop and studio. The front showroom is adorned with a curated collection of handcrafted stoneware ceramics that exude both functionality and aesthetic appeal. You’ll find beautifully designed mugs, various sizes of ceramic bowls, charming oil dispensers, and luxurious soy wax candles, all waiting to find a special place in your heart and home.
Aspiring artisans will also love their pottery classes! From designing and shaping the clay to adding your personal touch, you’ll have the chance to unleash your inner artist and craft pottery pieces that reflect your unique style and vision. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced potter looking to refine your skills, taking a class at the studio is a great way to create something special with your own hands.
10. Beach Bully BBQ
Virginia Beach, VA
Embark on a finger-licking adventure with a visit to Beach Bully BBQ, located in the ViBe Creative District of Virginia Beach. With a rich history that started from humble beginnings at local outdoor festivals, owners Rick Waskey and Chris Merrill embarked on a mouthwatering journey, perfecting their craft one sizzling grill at a time. Now, the spot is a favorite for locals and visitors alike seeking out irresistible BBQ goodness. From charcoal-grilled burgers to the famous “Beach Bully Sandwich” loaded with smoked and sliced beef, you’ll find loads of platters just waiting to tantalize your tastebuds. My stomach is growling just thinking about it.
In a world where supporting local has never been more important, the 757 shines as a haven for unique and thriving locally-owned businesses. By choosing to explore these gems, you not only indulge in exceptional products and services but also become a part of something greater – a movement that celebrates the heart and soul of Virginia. Keep the spirit of community alive and continue to uplift these local entrepreneurs who pour their passion into their craft.