Blue Ridge Cotton Company donates 1% of every sale to charity.

May 17, 2024

A greater purpose

Nestled in the mountain town of Blue Ridge, Georgia, is a store that is known for its array of tourism-driven apparel and a wide assortment of gifts, books, paper goods and children’s products. And while the variety changes weekly, there is one thing that stays the same. One percent of every sale goes to charity.
Owners Joshua Durst and Gary Steverson own two other stores: Gather, a home, kitchen and gourmet food store also in Blue Ridge, and Fort Myers Cotton Company in Fort Myers, Florida, that also donate 1% to charities.

“Giving back to your community is important for business because
it elevates the focus to something greater.” — Joshua Durst

To date, they estimate they’ve donated tens of thousands of dollars to charities, including animal rescues, food-insecurity-focused organizations, charities focused on children and youth, and arts organizations.

FINDING LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS. Durst and Steverson had always made an effort to give back in their businesses, but when their son Michael was killed in a vehicle accident in 2016 at just 18 years old, they decided to take their immense grief and do something positive.

“Michael was an amazing kid and had a beautiful spirit of giving and welcoming. Our give-back program is a reflection of his legacy in this world,” says Durst. “Michael loved animals and much of our focus has been rescue efforts, including the purchase of a transport vehicle for a local Blue Ridge rescue.”

Blue Ridge Cotton Company is known for its wide mix of tourism-related merchandise.

The rescue truck, called Michael's Big Red Truck, has saved over 6,000 animals from kill shelters. It’s also how Durst and Steverson found their own rescue pup, Watson, a pitbull mix that is popular with patrons.

RIPPLE EFFECT. Their giving spirit has inspired others to give back. “Every small and every large gift of resources and talents causes a ripple of kindness to move throughout our communities and the world,” says Durst.

Sunshine Awards recognize retail stores in our industry that are making a difference through charitable donations and efforts. Is your store worthy of an award? We’d love to hear from you! Complete an entry form at