When Marlowe Mager and Meagan Karvonen moved from Haywood County to Kansas, they knew they would be back to the mountains they call home. They just didn’t know it would be this soon. They also didn’t know they would open a small business to get here. But, recently, Blue Ridge Beer Hub celebrated a grand opening weekend where tourists and locals made them feel like a welcome addition to the craft beer movement. 

“I didn’t set out to own a small business,” Marlowe explains. “The pieces just came together. And I am not one to shy away from hard work. To be an entrepreneur, you must put in the hours and commit the time to making a business successful.”

Another key to owning a successful small business is having a true love for whatever you’re selling. Marlowe and Meagan have this one in the bag. Avid craft beer fans, they have traveled throughout the United States and internationally to sample beers. Marlowe has been home brewing for almost 20 years and he loves to share his passion.

“I want to be a resource for people who have questions about home brewing. I want to help them get started,” he explains.

In fact, the idea is for Blue Ridge Beer Hub to be a community for people who are interested in craft beer. A hub for people to gather, enjoy a drink and spend time together.

In addition, the business is a resource for things you can’t pick up at local grocery stores. With a large selection of beers, wine, ciders and meads, the selection changes daily. The taproom serves regional and hard-to-find beers on tap and for carry out. Blue Ridge Beer Hub also carries homebrew and winemaking supplies and equipment. They also have an extensive recipe book.    

Marlowe says he is amazed at how supportive everyone has been from the Downtown Waynesville Association to other local breweries and his neighboring merchants on Main Street. And Blue Ridge Beer Hub is also supporting their community. The business leases and purchases from local businesses, they contract with local service providers and they display and sell works by local craftspeople.

Marlowe says that typically when someone opens a business, they start with a business plan. “But things kind of happened out of order for us. We bought the business first. Things started moving really quick so we reached out to Katy Gould at Haywood Community College’s Small Business Center. She was extremely helpful. She provided free counseling and ideas about the location of our business. She made us aware of free seminars offered through the Center. At these workshops, we connected with other local business owners.”

Another way Blue Ridge Beer Hub hopes to connect with the community is hosting a monthly wine tasting event. These events will be held on the first Tuesday of each month. December will feature holiday wines. The Hub will also host monthly beer tasting events, though the day of the month will vary based on the availability of brewery reps.

“I fantasized about opening a brewery when retirement rolled around,” Marlowe explains. “But when I found out this business was ready to sell, I saw it as an opportunity to get into the industry early. The timing was just right.”

Back at home in these mountains, Marlowe and Meagan are living out their dream of being the hub for all things craft beer.

For more information about Blue Ridge Beer Hub, visit blueridgebeerhub.com.

Thinking about starting a business in Haywood County or growing an existing business? Take advantage of the programs, services, and resources provided by the Small Business Center. The NC Community College’s Small Business Center Network assists in starting an average of over 700 businesses each year. Small Business Centers have an economic impact in 90 percent of all NC Counties each year, helping to create and retain nearly 3,600 jobs annually. Visit SBC.Haywood.edu or call 828.627.4512 for additional information.

Donated photo. Blue Ridge Beer Hub recently celebrated a grand opening weekend and are a welcome addition to the craft beer movement. Pictured is owner Marlowe Mager in the new business.