Dine & Shop Day helps Black Mountain Home for Children

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News|USA TODAY NETWORKS

Nobody needs a reason to stop into Hey Hey Cupcake in the middle of town and grab a treat. But anyone looking for one could find it June 16. 

That's when nearly every business in downtown Black Mountain donated a portion of its proceeds to Black Mountain Home for Children as part of an event known as "Dine & Shop Day," an event now half a dozen years old.

Gabriel Vess Dash greets customers of Hey Hey Cupcake in Black Mountain with "hey hey" as they walk in the front door. She was one of dozens of businesses participating in Dine & Shop Day to benefit Black Mountain Home for Children.

Hey Hey Cupcake has been participating since owner Gabriel Vess Dash, who owns the business with her sister Courtney Vess King, can remember. Each year they donate at least 10 percent of total sales for the day. 

"We grew up in this community," Dash said. "And we love children, so anything we can do to help we try our best."

C.W. Moose Trading Co. has been participating in Dine & Shop for a number of years, according to owner Robert Hope.

The donations are needed for the home, according to vice president of finance and development Sarah Thomas, but the exposure it generates for its mission is nearly as valuable. 

"The businesses put up the fliers and have information about us in their stores," she said. "It really makes people aware that we're here, we're taking care of kids and we need their help."

On a busy summer day people from all over the world walk into the stores in Black Mountain. Hey Hey Cupcake has a map pinned with the hometowns of people who have visited. Countries like Germany, England, Norway, Uganda and South Africa are represented. 

Customers from all of the world, between bites of Bonita Margarita or Sourwood Honey and Lavender cupcakes, can be introduced to the home. 

Two doors down Shaun Pope, owner of Vertical Runner, was excited about Dine & Shop Day because "Black Mountain Home's cause is absolutely wonderful."

"Ensuring the children they care for have a fair chance in life is what they do," he said. "I can't think of a better cause to support."

Pope participated in a group run in May with a local church that raised over $1,000 for the home. 

Connie Pruitt, manager of Periwinkles on Cherry Street, helps customers in the store, which participated in Dine & Shop Day on June 16.

"Having a place like that here in Black Mountain is phenomenal," he said. "Supporting them is a no-brainer."

Connie Pruitt has worked at Periwinkles on Cherry Street for 11 years and remembers participating in Dine & Shop since it began six or seven years ago. She's heard firsthand accounts of the impact the home can have.

"When I first moved here around 17 years ago I knew a man who grew up there," she said. "It's nice to know they have a place where kids can grow up and they raise them to be good people."

Periwinkles proudly supports the home's fundraising effort, she said. 

"Children are the most important thing we have," Pruitt said. "They should always be a priority."

Karen Buell and her store Thyme & Again have been on Cherry Street for 30 years. 

"I like to make sure I'm donating money to local places," she said. "And what Black Mountain Home is doing is just so important, and they do a great job."

The home, which has been in operation since 1904, couldn't help the children who need its services without the community, Thomas said. 

"The funds raised on Dine & Shop Day go to our everyday fund, which is the annual fund to meet the daily needs of kids in our care," she said. "We have to raise about $1 million per year just to meet those needs."

Martha Speegle-Snell, an employee of The Merry Wine Market in Black Mountain, was ready for a busy June 16 - Dine & Shop Day, in which business donated a portion of sales to Black Mountain Home for Children.

Most of the businesses participating in Dine & Shop are based in Black Mountain and Swannanoa. But several Asheville and Hendersonville merchants are participating as well. 

"Public funding is crucial to what we do," Thomas said. "It feels great to see local businesses say 'we believe in what you're doing.'"