Sierra Watson

The Key Note

Bringing you the good news during hard times.

Jul 06

Our Local Business Spotlight - A Baby Celebration

Posted on July 6, 2020 at 2:47 PM by Crystal Keener

What does a local retailer, a cyber security firm, and a  sporting goods shop all have in common? They are all small businesses who are persevering in the face of the pandemic. Their stories are inspiring examples of how small businesses are using creativity, connection, and community to navigate their survival in the face of adversity. 

COVID-19 has impacted small businesses in North Wilkesboro in many ways. As the country slowly starts to reopen, we want to highlight small businesses in North Wilkesboro, and how they’ve coped with the unprecedented changes COVID-19 has brought. How have they modified their businesses since the pandemic began? Have they had to come up with creative ways to serve their clientele? 

This week we are highlighting A Baby Celebration, a local children’s boutique  located on 819 Main Street

A Baby Celebration was established in 2009 by Jo Ann Church and her sister Carolyn Wilkes. What began as a small business to make and sell baby gift baskets, soon developed into the largest children’s boutique in the area. 

As residents and business owners in North Wilkesboro, Otis and Jo Ann Church say they chose their Main Street  location because they “believe in and support the Downtown Historical District and its businesses and activities. We want to see North Wilkesboro grow and develop into a prosperous area and we wanted to be a part of that development.  We saw a need for our children’s boutique and wanted A Baby Celebration to be a part of growing North Wilkesboro. "  

When asked what makes their store unique, Otis and Jo Ann stated, “We specialize in the best selection of fine children‘s clothing from newborn to teens for girls and newborn to size 7 for boys. Our clothing lines include a combination of casual to fancy pieces for special occasions.  We have a great selection of accessories (including shoes) and unique gift items for birthdays (including toys) and baby showers.” 

As recipients of Wilkes County’s Small Business Recovery Grant Program, Otis and Jo Ann have used their funding “to endure the financial setbacks of the COVID-19 shut down. We appreciate the assistance from the grant program,  North Wilkesboro, and surrounding areas residents that have supported our business and have shopped locally. Thanks to the customers and assistance from the Recovery Program, most downtown businesses are slowly recovering after the long shut down.

Summer sales at A Baby Celebration are in full swing! All summer clothing is now 20% off, so you can begin to shop for all your upcoming summer activities as the world begins to reopen! For more information on what’s new at A Baby Celebration, visit and follow their Facebook page or grab a copy of our local magazine, Yadkin Valley Magazine! 

During these uncertain times, it’s crucial that we all support each other however we can. Be a good neighbor, share your resources, and assist your local businesses where you can.

To our local businesses, we appreciate you!  Stay tuned for more local business spotlights and remember to check out A Baby Celebration off 819 Main Street! 


Jul 06

Our Local Business Spotlight -Taupe Gallery

Posted on July 6, 2020 at 2:47 PM by Crystal Keener

Art, history, and culture are back under the spotlight.

Lights turned off as early as March in museums and art galleries in Wilkes County during the coronavirus pandemic. For Taupe Gallery, their daily operations have now drastically changed as they wait to flip the switch back on permanently.

Taupe Gallery is the love of its purveyors Jim Lyall and Steve Key. Together for 9 years, they have explored the foothills and mountain region of North Carolina. Jim and Steve have lived in Wilkes County since childhood, and with so many talented artists living in the mountains of NC, they decided Downtown North Wilkesboro would be an exemplary spot to open their gallery. 

Taupe Gallery is an unexpected surprise nestled off 10th Street. Founded in 2010, the vignettes of clay, paintings, glass, and jewelry converge into a warm and inviting experience. When Jim and Steve decided to embark on this adventure, they wanted to open a contemporary art gallery with edgy products, just a tad away from traditional pottery and paintings.

Visitors to Taupe Gallery often comment that they have “never seen a collection of artists with their works so unique to any other gallery” as Jim and Steve take pride in having an awe-inspiring eye for finding pieces that are unconventional and special. One of Taupe’s  guidelines is to offer only handcrafted, one-of-a-kind works. Jim and Steve spend their time visiting as many artists as possible, learning how they work, and hand-picking art for their shop. Jim and Steve simply stated, “If we like it, we can sell it!”

The culmination of their quests is a varied array of hundreds of artists they meet and collaborate with to bring you the creations you seek. “While we showcase over 125 artists from all over the country, 75% of the artists are from Western NC and surrounding areas, with the other 25% from out of state.” 

Patrons have been overheard saying, "I had no idea such a wonderful gallery existed here!" "This is the kind of space you see in a big city without all the stuffiness.""I didn’t know what I wanted until Jim and Steve listened to what I had in mind." Their talents are limitless! 

These comments, and countless others, are the results of Jim and Steve making art something you talk about, touch, photograph, and experience in your home. The cold, antiseptic, stand-off, and gasp! at the price is the complete opposite attitude of Taupe Gallery. Walking in, you immediately feel the colors, textures, and comfort of stepping into the home of a friend. 

Unlike other galleries, Jim and Steve welcome you to take pictures and experience the art. They will even coordinate with you to see what piece of art you are considering, and what it will look like in your home! Jim and Steve offer a unique local experience as they will arrange to bring the art to your home to get a feel for it in your own environment. 

Taupe’s top priorities now are focusing on updating their web-page, creating a new online store, and giving their Facebook and Instagram pages a makeover through their new marketing program.

Jim and Steve are ready to welcome the North Wilkesboro community back into the Gallery with more stories than ever, and that same familiar smile (even if it is under a mask). 

I personally am anxious to finally stand in front of a piece of art, and allow my mind to become consumed by it. And just for a moment, let all other worries subside.

Jim and Steve are currently working in the Gallery with limited hours each week and by appointment only, so make sure to call ahead before making your trip (and they unquestionably are worth the trip!). Continue to check their website at and follow their newly remodeled social media platforms @TaupeGallery for more updates! 

Thank you Jim and Steve for bringing the perspective of an artist to others. I cannot stress enough the power of art, to teach art, and to allow ourselves and our children to live with a national tradition of art, because the arts give us the tools and means for connecting and communicating about the way we see the world (yes, even in a pandemic). 

Jun 30

How to Celebrate Fourth of July during a Pandemic.

Posted on June 30, 2020 at 4:03 PM by Crystal Keener

Fourth of July festivities are on their way this weekend and most of us have looked forward to
celebrating with our friends and families for backyard barbecues, beach side fun, and Main
Street parades. Unfortunately, traditions look a little different this year.

Luckily, North Wilkesboro has a day of celebrating our independence planned for you. You
heard it, you do not have to be on the beach to feel like you’re celebrating the Fourth of July

Since the Holiday falls on a Saturday, the Wilkes County Farmers' Market will be open for business from 7:30am-12:00pm. Local vendors are social distancing and following extra safety measures to keep their customers safe.

Enjoy some fresh air as you are shopping locally downtown. A number of downtown businesses will be open to welcome you back, and admire their holiday-themed decor along their storefronts. American flags will be proudly displayed on light posts, with patriotic music filling the streets on 9th and C Streets .

Drive-by the Wilkesboro Avenue Bridge and witness the Town of North Wilkesboro and
Wilkesboro celebrate patriotism and public servants by flying the American flag from our
aerial fire trucks! We are inviting all residents to cruise-by in your cars and salute the flag between the hours of 5-8:00pm . We are calling this experience a ‘miniature reverse parade’ where our trucks are stationary as viewers drive-by.

Conclude your evening with our first VIRTUAL Fourth of July CONCERT at 8:00pm! We are
excited to showcase local artists Will Easter and Alex Key through our Downtown North
Wilkesboro YouTube page (search: Downtown North Wilkesboro). 

Remember it may look a little different, but we hope you find joy in these innovative
social-distancing events (or even a little relaxation of getting your kids out of the house). If
you are attending the farmers market or shopping downtown, please kindly continue to
social distance and wear a mask .

There's still always a way to celebrate and keep special traditions alive. We have had to adjust
our expectations and get creative, because when life gives you lemons—well, you know what
to do with them.

Of course, this particular lemon is big (like, life-altering big)—but that only makes it more
important to find happiness and comfort in small things, like celebrating what you’d normally
be celebrating right now.

Happy Fourth of July!