Battle Tested BBQ sauce being poured on a rack of ribs
← All Posts
Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Holiday shopping? Order from these 6 local, veteran-owned businesses in the Carolinas

Battle Tested BBQ sauce being poured on a rack of ribs

Most of us in the Carolinas may not be gearing up for white Christmases, but we still know how to celebrate the magic of the holiday season. That starts with finding the perfect local gifts for our friends and family.

Want to add an extra layer of meaning to your holiday gifts? Shop local, veteran-owned businesses online in North and South Carolina. Support those who have served and returned to the place we all call home.

Whether you’re looking for something to stock your brother’s kitchen, or decorate your mom’s home, or liven up your friend’s wardrobe, there’s a store for you. Shop these 6 local, veteran-owned businesses this season.

(1) Hand+Built Leather Goods

According to Hand+Built Leather Goods in North Carolina, a good-quality leather bag serves as not just a statement piece, but as a practical accessory for men and women alike. Leather bags are long-lasting and can look better as they age. Hand+Built Leather Goods hand-stitches their bags, with styles ranging from messenger, to saddle, to traveler. They carry other goods including dog collars, wallets and journals.

"I believe in providing traditional leather-making techniques that will create leather goods that will truly last a lifetime,” said Carl Miller, owner of Hand+Built Leather Goods. He served as a welder and mechanic in the Army.

Shop Hand+Built Leather Goods online.

(2) Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce

Hungry for a unique blend of select spices and flavors, plus real ingredients? Mike Otis, president of Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce in North Carolina, launched his brand of sauces using a base recipe from his father and World War II veteran, Ed Otis.

“After more than 30 years of people telling me I should bring my homemade barbecue sauce to market, we decided to step into the highly competitive barbecue sauce category to see if we could create a brand that people loved,” said Mike Otis, who served in the military as security police, combat camera and lead media escort. “We created Battle Tested to be an all-natural, gluten-free sauce with no high-fructose corn syrup or chemical flavoring. It’s small-batch, craft-made.”

The brand donates 5 percent of the profit from every bottle sold to veteran charities, including Stop Soldier Suicide in Durham.

Shop Battle Tested Craft Barbecue Sauce online.

(3) Six & Twenty Distillery

This business, owned by David Raad, who served in the Army, works to craft legendary local spirits. Six & Twenty Distillery also has a goal to reflect the uniqueness of upstate South Carolina. Offerings include low-intensity wheat whiskey, five-grain bourbon, smooth rye vodka and rum made from Caribbean-sourced molasses. Also in the shop, you’ll find barware essentials like shot glasses and Glencairn glasses.

Shop Six & Twenty Distillery online.

(4) K Bar Soap Co.

The K Bar Soap Company in South Carolina is reflective of owner Chris McKinney’s time in the U.S. Marine Corps. Scent names are based on sayings or ideas from that time period. The brand’s lineup of soaps are all-natural and cold-processed, and contain naturally-produced glycerin for moisturizing benefits. K Bar Soap Co. also offers premium beard oils and grease, as well as hygiene essentials like combs and hand balm, and gear like hats and shirts.

“I started this business because I wanted to be self-sustaining, and due to the lack of all-natural showering,” McKinney said. “Freedom in the market, made for real men.” His company’s long-term goal is to employ veterans and educate them in the craft of cold-process soapmaking.

Shop K Bar Soap Co. online.

(5) The General’s Hot Sauce

The idea for veteran-owned The General’s Hot Sauce came into being at a tailgate – and evolved to become a business that works to make great hot sauce that people love, to create employment opportunities for veterans and to donate a percentage of profits to help military and veteran families. As director of operations Steve Osegueda says, “Service isn’t something you did — it’s who you are."

The team is a mix of veterans and non-veterans, and their sauces are a mix of peppers grown in the Carolinas and bottled in South Carolina. Expect hot sauces that are 86 percent actual peppers, blended with the highest-quality ingredients.

Shop The General’s Hot Sauce online.

(6) Gentle Lady Boutique

Owned by Theresa Mullins and her daughter, Samantha Haley, this North Carolina boutique aims to offer conservative, tasteful clothing in both modern and vintage cuts. You’ll also find jewelry, classic hats and accessories like feather totes.

Mullins served in the military as a 91T Sergeant in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps under the Health Services Command. She took care of military working dogs.

Shop Gentle Lady Boutique online.

Ready to shop?

Tag us on social media @pepsicarolinas with your favorite finds from these local businesses.

Images courtesy of listed businesses.


5 Must-eat restaurants in Columbia – and what to order


Try these 5 must-eat restaurants in Charleston – and enjoy them with Pepsi


5 Top Greenville, SC Restaurants (That Also Serve Pepsi)