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It stretches across Brunswick County’s farthest reaches.
From northern Shallotte to southern Bolivia in latitude, from eastern St. James/Oak Island/Southport to western Ash in longitude, the vast territory long known as “Supply” could well be Brunswick County’s largest city—if it was a city.
Supply, N.C., which ballyhoos its own ZIP code—28462—is that area people usually refer to when it’s just too far out and not fitting to put a place within one of Brunswick County’s valid incorporated towns.
That seems to be a typical scenario in Brunswick County, which apparently doesn’t have enough incorporated space to go around.
How else do you explain the existence of a local winery tucked well west of U.S. 17 that touts an Ocean Isle Beach address—an approximate 10-mile distance?
Ditto for Indigo Farms, which is a lot closer to unincorporated Ash (ZIP code 28420) than Calabash (28467), the address typically used even though the farms are a good 6 miles from the Seafood Capital as the crow flies (and according to the zigzag directions of Google Maps).
You won’t find any seafood restaurants there, either. Fresh produce, yes. Fried fish and shrimp, no, though it’s a safe bet there’s plenty of importing and exporting going on between these two amicable regions.
Supply, like Ash, is that slightly undefined place whose very name sparks intrigue.
What is a Supply?
Residents near Holden Beach—which shares a mail-delivery ZIP code with Supply—would prefer to say they live in Holden Beach, but can’t because that’s just not the way it’s done. The rule is, if you’re west of the waterway or Wings Beachwear, you can and must say you’re in Supply.
As Wikipedia defines it: “Supply is a small, unincorporated community in Brunswick County, N.C., located around the intersection of U.S. 17 and N.C. 211.” That’s vaguely succinct.
The name Supply “is derived from the use of the Lockwoods Folly River as a trade route in the 18th and 19th centuries. Residents of the nearby beach communities of Holden Beach, Oak Island, Ocean Isle, Caswell Beach and Sunset Beach often used to commute to Supply for [a ‘supply’ of] goods and other materials. This practice is still common, but development in the town of Southport and in the Intracoastal Waterway commercial districts has made traveling to Supply unnecessary.”
That may be so, but just try to avoid traveling through Supply. Unless you’re a homebody hermit who never ventures north of Shallotte, it’s kind of hard to do.
Here are some more Wikipedia tidbits about Supply:
History—“Supply is located midway between the town of Bolivia, the county seat of Brunswick County, and the city of Shallotte, and is just south of the Green Swamp. It is (was?) also home to Brunswick Medical Center. Chad McCumbee, an ARCA and NASCAR driver, is a notable resident.”
Supply is also where the novel “Holly,” by Albert French, is set, “although the novel indicates that there is a courthouse in Supply, but since Supply is not a county seat it is unclear why the novel so indicates.”
Did anyone mention that Supply can also be confusing?
As for fire stations, Supply boosts Station 13 at “17 and 211.” Educationally, it has Supply Elementary School.
So while travel to Supply these days may be “unnecessary,” the existence of this extensive stop-in-the-road is hardly irrelevant. Besides, it’s where non-Holden Beach residents have to say they live.
“Everybody knows where Holden Beach is,” one non-Holden resident recently told me. But out-of-towners and potential visitors have a hard time wrapping their minds and inner maps around Supply. We all do.
Until one of the surrounding incorporated towns decides to branch out a few extra miles and extend the annexation branch to Supply, say, in another century or so, residents there will just have to live with it.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.