He may have a successful display on the exploration Channel, but Manes’ true passions room his little shop and also the town of Newport

I fulfill Eric Manes within Fruit jug Alley, his wife’s apparel boutique in the sleepy Smoky mountain town the Newport, Tennessee. Much better known together “Digger” from the discovery Channel docu-series Moonshiners, Manes is wearing overalls v the top switch on each side undone, and doesn’t look like someone of truth TV fame. However then again, Manes doesn’t exactly line up through my expectation that a real-life, forest moonshiner either—someone who has actually spent his life illegally making the type of liquor it is bottled up in unlabeled mason jars. He’s polite and relatively clean cut, v a short, gray beard and glasses, and also a thick southern accent. At 56 year old, he reminds me a bit of my dad.

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Manes walks me v his store following door, The back Alley Grainery, where he, ironically, sells brewing and winemaking supplies. Maximum floor is a lounge the he calls his Dude Den. The an are is bigger than my apartment and mostly empty except for a bar, a pool table, and a small seating area. The minimal decorations encompass a taxidermy white bird and a snapshot of a donkey. Manes props one of those unlabeled jars the brown liquor on the bar and also offers me a sip. For himself, that cracks open up a can of hill Dew.

I oblige and, to mine surprise, it’s in reality pretty good. “I don’t do shitty liquor,” Manes says.

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The earlier Alley Grainery opened in 2018. | photo courtesy of Digger Manes

Manes and his wife took a huge risk to kickstart a downtown revitalization through their businesses, but slowly, others are following. The street looks quite empty, yet he states Newport now has actually an ice cream parlor, a hair salon, a firearm store, and a food van that’s looking to open a brick-and-mortar.

“Being the city undertaker’s son, mine parents operated every day and I would pertained to work v my dad. I remained in every nook and also cranny that this downtown area and also it’s home to me,” that says. “I might walk right into every store and also name anyone who worked there and I miss that. We’ve end up being so disconnected from our communities and people don’t take it time to it is in kind and also speak to each other and also have small conversations like, ‘Did you fish this week?’ I’d love to watch it get ago to that.”