Candler au naturel

Innovative entrepreneurs are trying to bring a natural touch to the Smokey Park Highway while injecting more local flavor into the Candler corridor.

Sweet woof: MoonDoggies owner Linda Gavel shows off doggie eclairs, nutter butters and macaroons — all available for discerning canines. Photos by Jonathan Welch

Linda Gavel, co-owner of MoonDoggies Natural Pet Foods, believes her business's recent opening meets a need in the community. "There were no pet-food stores," she reports. She and her sister, Susan Gavel, opened their doors several weeks ago, offering natural and organic dog and cat food as well as locally made collars, beds, pet sweaters and even special pastries.

A few doors down sits House of Herbs, the you-pick greenhouse Shannon Haun launched back in April. "We're trying to do something different and unique in the community," she explains. The herb shop grew out of a passion Haun has cultivated since the death of her son five years ago. A friend took her to the Spring Herb Festival at the WNC Farmers Market, an experience that felt like an awakening.

"As soon as I walked into that place, I felt healing," she recalls.

Haun's shop also features locally made soaps, teas and pottery, and she plans to offer herb-growing workshops as well. The next step, says Haun, is getting restaurants interested in her offerings, which are available year round.

Both business owners say they're hearing good things from neighborhood residents hungry for more locally focused stores in an area that, over the years, has evolved into more of a commuter corridor flanked by large chain markets.

"People tell me that in the old days, this used to be a great shopping area," says Haun, who hails from West Virginia.

"A lot of local people say, 'I'm so happy to see you,'" Gavel agrees. "Maybe other people will open up better shops too."

Both stores embrace organic principles. The Herb House doesn't use chemicals on the plants ("People eat this stuff," notes Haun), and MoonDoggies even supplies what Gavel calls "raw, organic cat and dog food."

Away we grow: House of Herbs in Candler offers pick-your-own, greenhouse-grown herbs. Owner Shannon Haun says residents along Smoky Park Highway are glad to see new shops there.

"You won't find this in your average pet-food store," she observes.

House of Herbs: 1444 Smokey Park Highway (667-3737). MoonDoggies: 1263 Smokey Park Highway (633-0900).

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