Business: Camp Cocktail mobile bar the toast of the Albemarle
William F. West – Sunday, November 22, 2015
KILL DEVIL HILLS — Sam Harriss appears to be one who does her own thing and who likes being her own boss.
Harriss certainly has been unique in the Albemarle region, as evidenced by having an old camping trailer converted into a mobile bar.
Harriss, 33 and a Camden County native, has been operating Camp Cocktail, out of a 1969 Shasta she located after months of searching on the Internet.
Harriss said that, after she purchased the Shasta, she had Mabel Studios in Watauga County do the restoration work to include the bar. The camper includes wood from her parents’ farm in Camden County, wood from a former pickle factory and odds and ends she collected through the years.
Harriss, who has been working as a bartender at Sweet T’s at Duck, said the idea for Camp Cocktail can be traced back to the summer of 2014. “It came about just from traveling so much,” she said, noting she also owns a 1959 Airstream trailer. “It’s hard for me to sit still.”
“And I love bartending and cooking and coming up with interesting, creative ideas. So, for me to be able to express it while moving around is kind of fun,” she said.
Harriss said she has taken the mobile bar to events, gatherings, parties and weddings. She said she has served patrons in Elizabeth City, in Camden County, on the Currituck County Outer Banks and in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She said she even took the mobile bar to the Palmetto State, for a special event held by Garden and Gun magazine in Charleston.
“I’ll do just about anything,” she said of her business approach.
Asked about the origins of naming her business Camp Cocktail, she said, “It just kind of came to me and it stuck.”
Harriss said that in her early years she had the best of two lives in the Albemarle. She grew up on a farm owned by parents Huck and Patricia Harriss and spent much quality time on the Outer Banks.
Harriss at first pursued an interest in art and earned a degree in painting from the Savannah, Georgia, College of Art and Design and even studied sculpture for a time in Australia. She said she went on to do post graduate studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and at Oregon College of Art and Craft, focusing in part on metals and woodworking.
She said she then worked in the Northwest, at wineries, and also did small repairs and woodworking on vintage travel trailers.
Although she has been based on the Dare County Outer Banks, she said she intends to hit the road soon for California, with her plans being to operate her mobile bar up and down the Golden State.
She said, however, that she wants to find a partner and maintain a business presence on the East Coast, so much so she has located a second Shasta for potential transformation to a second mobile bar.
As for her present mobile bar, she said pulls it with a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, but she wants to locate and purchase a truck from old days of Detroit-based domination, specifically a 1970 Chevrolet.
“I love anything that has wheels or moves,” she said.