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NRV’s Premier Lifestyle Magazine

New River Valley November/December 2017


Happy Holidays

Search. See. Love.

Find a place to hang your heart. Explore all homes on the market today and leverage the insight of our agent network. Find your agent at

Priscilla The



Priscilla Morris REALTOR®

Darin Greear REALTOR®




Patti Bass Patti Bass REALTOR® 540.818.3958


Kerry Gillispie REALTOR® 540.230.1684 2016

Wendy Swanson REALTOR® 540.797.9497

Visit or download our mobile app today! 3601 Holiday Ln. Blacksburg, VA 24060 | 540.552.1010

Anne-Collins Albimino REALTOR® 540.239.3246 2016

Long & Foster was named “America’s Most Trusted Residential Real Estate Brokerage” by Lifestory Research.

Calendar of Events 2017 FASHIONS FOR EVERGREENS

When it comes to celebrating the holidays, there’s always room at

Trees on Display November 23-December 16 Our foyer's 18 professionally designed trees present awe-inspiring decorating ideas in an extraordinary display. After you take in all of the dazzling trees, be sure to cast a vote for your favorite. Plan to visit early this year since displays will come down sooner than usual due to renovations.


Debuts Friday, November 24 Stop by Preston’s for breakfast, lunch or Sunday brunch and see this sweet holiday creation by Christiansburg High School Culinary Arts students.


Friday, December 1, 8 & 15 | 5-7 p.m. On Fridays this holiday season, enjoy a casual family dinner in Preston's with a traditional holiday menu that will delight the whole family from Santa's Little Helpers to Mrs. Claus herself. Reservations recommended.



This season, treat yourself to the luxury of The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center and be surrounded by the sights, sounds, and scents of the holidays. On select days this holiday season, enjoy deluxe accommodations from only $89.00 per night. For reservations, please call 540.231.8000 or visit

Friday, December 1 & 8 | 6-8 p.m. Cozy up with a complimentary mug of hot cocoa for live entertainment by Blacksburg Master Chorale's own Ad Hoctet. This strolling group of carolers will ring in the season with Christmas carols and other holiday favorites.


Saturday, December 2 | 10:30 a.m. Join us for an exciting holiday cooking demonstration by The Inn's executive chef, Chang-Lei Yun. Cost per person is $8. Space is limited, reservations required. Please call Preston's Restaurant at 540.231.0120 for reservations.


Friday, December 8 | Performance starts at 5 p.m. Experience the magic of Santa Claus at The Inn! Listen to Santa’s stories, sing songs and share a magical experience. Children sit on the floor or move about the room comfortably, getting to know Santa at their own pace. This is not a traditional photo session with Santa, but photographs are allowed, so be sure to bring your camera! Space is limited, reservations required. Please contact Hannah Vogel at 540.231.0113 or for reservations.


November 26, December 3, 10 & 17 | 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Santa is your host for this bountiful brunch buffet. Join him for bowl-full-of-jelly laughs and tell him what you really want for Christmas. Brunch patrons will enjoy a complimentary photo with Santa. Reservations required. Please call Preston's Restaurant at 540.231.0120 for reservations.


Sunday, December 24 | 5-9 p.m. ’Tis the season for entertaining! Enjoy this festive night with a special holiday four-course plated dinner. Reservations required. Please call Preston's Restaurant at 540.231.0120 for reservations.


Monday, December 25 | 11 a.m.-2 p.m. A meal at Preston's is always special, but the holiday season holds a unique charm. Come enjoy the sights and sounds of the season and our genuine wishes for a joyous holiday. Reservations required. Please call Preston's Restaurant at 540.231.0120 for reservations.


Sunday, December 31 | 5-9 p.m. Close out 2017 "Inn"-style with live entertainment, a four-course dinner and a champagne toast. Reservations required. Please call Preston's Restaurant at 540.231.0120 for reservations.

901 Prices Fork Road, Blacksburg, VA 24061 | 540.231.8000 |



Nov/Dec 2017

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P. O. Box 11816 Blacksburg, VA 24062 o: 540-961-2015

PUBLISHER Country Media, Inc. Phillip Vaught MANAGING EDITOR Joanne Anderson ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Sabrina Sexton DISTRIBUTION MANAGER Dennis Shelor WRITERS Joanne Anderson Karl Kazaks Krisha Chachra Sheila Nelson Emily Alberts Jennifer Cooper Mike Wade Becky Helper PHOTOGRAPHERS Kristie Lea Photography Always and Forever Photography Tom Wallace Silver Pebble Photography Jamie Johnson Bunker Amodeo Photography Nathan Cooke Photography


I feel like I get to begin celebrating Christmas early, as we write the Christmas stories in September and October and photograph some of them a year in advance. I am touched by all of them and reminded myself how valuable shopping local is for the shopkeepers who work so hard to keep their stores inviting, relevant and interesting for all of us. Speaking of relevant and interesting, we are embarking on a wonderful new project for distribution in February. It is a hard cover, all color book, 64 pages minimum, tentatively titled: 2018 See & Do Book ~ New River Valley. It is a one-of-a-kind annual publication which will be distributed for free in lodging rooms all over the New River Valley. This may come as a stunning statistic: 2,700 guest rooms, give or take a few. That's a huge audience for advertisers with leisure travelers, VT and RU parents and grandparents, international visitors, business people, sports enthusiasts and conference attendees. We know some may get lifted, of course, and we'll replace them at no

SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER Justin Ashwell Cover Image by: Kristie Lea Photography Š 2017 Country Media, Inc. Country Media, Inc. will not knowingly publish any advertisement that is illegal or misleading to its readers. Neither the advertiser nor Country Media, Inc. will be responsible or liable for misinformation, misprints, or typographical errors. The publisher assumes no financial liability for copy omissions by Country Media, Inc. other than the cost of the space occupied by the error. Corrections or cancellations to be made by an advertiser shall be received no later than 5 p.m. the 20th of each publishing month. No claim shall be allowed for errors not affecting the value of the advertisement. Paid advertising does not represent an endorsement by this publication. Content cannot be reproduced without written consent from Country Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Real Estate advertised in this publication is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act of 1968.

charge to the hotel. They will be for sale as well at the hotels and on the counters of advertiser shops, restaurants and offices, if they choose to sell them. The plan is to include many previously unpublished professional photos around the New River Valley, informative light text, beautifully designed pages and interesting stuff. Advertising details can be found at This November/December

Pasture Talk

is a publication every shop, restaurant, lodging establishment, bank, urgent care facility and recreation supplier should be in --- and it covers one year in every lodging room in the New River Valley. I have experienced some stellar customer service recently. G&H

Appliance and Bull & Bones come to mind. I'm especially humbled when a business comes through to make things right even when something is my fault or a misunderstanding occurs. Not long ago, this was the case with Domino's and Enterprise [car rental], and both businesses went above and beyond to achieve complete customer satisfaction. A few small businesses step out this time every year and buy an extra ad in our Gift Guide page. I think there should be more, but here they are this year. Please pay them a visit when you are out shopping: pages 44-45. It takes money to make money, and these shops understand that, and they also know NRV Magazine is read by thousands of people in the region. Hats off to them! Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you'all!

Joanne Anderson ManagingEditor

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The Bear with the Blue Hat Ornament Text by Joanne M. Anderson | Photos by Kristie Lea Photography


"My husband and I love that our kids can see the Christmas tree in the great room below as soon as they walk out of their bedrooms."

In a home in the hills outside Blacksburg, Christmas decorations are tastefully displayed, traditions have been handed down and created anew, and the holiday spirit fills every space. This classy, contemporary family house blends rustic elements with modern living for a sophisticated country lifestyle. Chris and Mary Kate Gaines revel in the joy of family all year long and in the special Christmas season. Chris's mom, June, painted a little bear with a blue hat for his first Christmas. She painted an ornament each year until she passed away when he was 20. "The sweetest



part of this story," Mary Kate explains, "is finding two, and only two, little bear ornaments in a Floyd antique store shopping with my mother. Though we had been struggling with infertility for years, I bought them, praying that one day I might have children for whom to paint them." She discovered she was pregnant in October of 2011, and her mom, Dawn, passed away from cancer the next month. "It was such a blessing to paint that bear ornament and remember the hope I shared with my mom years earlier," Mary Kate recalls. They named their daughter

Nov/Dec 2017


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Evelyn Dawn June after both her late grandmothers. In these photos, taken one year ago, Mary Kate is pregnant with her second child, Broderick Paul, born in the spring. She might be painting the other bear ornament right now, as you are reading her story. The Gaines family begins decorating the day after Thanksgiving. "We're the people who never tire of early Christmas music or cringe at seeing Christmas decor come out in September. We love it," exclaims Mary Kate. Their own family traditions now include involvement with the Live Drive Thru Nativity the second weekend in December and the candlelight Christmas Eve service, both at Gateway Baptist Church. Back home on Christmas Eve they put on their "jingle jammies", set out cookies, carrots and milk and read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." "My husband and I love that our kids can see the Christmas tree in the great room below as soon as they walk out of their bedrooms. Christmas morning always has cinnamon rolls and a breakfast casserole. We read Luke 2:1-14 before opening presents. It's low key after that with family time with Nana and Pap and lots of coffee." Pap is Chris's dad, Paul Gaines. Nana is Linda, his second wife with big shoes to fill as the only Grandma. "She is amazing and we just adore her ... she is our rock," Mary Kate says. The couple purchased the 3,000-square-foot house in 2010; it was built in 1982. "The moment I walked in, I felt at home," Mary Kate remembers, despite stained blue carpet, dark beams, a pink sink and toilet and other things. 12


Nov/Dec 2017

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"All of 1980's finest! It looked more like a lodge, but I had a vision." It's definitely been a labor of love to change every room in the house. Today, it is a bright, open, inviting home with beautiful, rustic antique pieces in unexpected places and builtin shelves for style and function. The wood fireplace enclosure in the living room keeps the family warm and toasty all winter, and the view overlooking the forest to the Hahn farm is Mary Kate's happy place. "I would love to add a dormer upstairs with a Juliet balcony to take in more of that heavenly view," she says. But the open kitchen, vaulted beamed great room ceiling, stone fireplace, inlaid wood floors, crown molding, mud room, covered and open decks and a new playground area makes every day akin to Christmas for this abundantly thankful family with the bear with the blue hat ornaments, now plural. 14


Nov/Dec 2017


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It’s a Wrap Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper | Photos by Silver Pebble Photography

The Upscale Attic Hiding the surprise is a big part of gift giving and has been for years – even centuries. The use of wrapping paper is first documented in ancient China, where paper was invented in second century B.C. In the American Midwest, the innovations of brothers Rollie Hall and Joyce Clyde Hall, founders of Hallmark Cards, led to the development of modern decorative gift wrapping in the 20th century. At their stationery store, they ran out of the standard tissue paper wrap and began to use thick envelope lining. It was a hit, and wrapping paper was born in the United States. According to Hallmark, Americans spend approximately $3.2 billion a year on wrapping paper, so gift presentation is clearly important, but 16


there are myriad options. Gift wrap, gift bags, tissue, ribbons, etc. Gift wrap comes in prints, solids, stripes and everything in between. According to Doug Taylor of Caroling Retail Packaging, some current products are purple, glitter and European wrapping styles that include nontraditional colors such as black and reds that are more orangey or pink. Wrapping paper geared toward the recipient is always welcome; for example, sheet music for music lovers. Using decorative stamps on brown craft paper can make a perfect wrap. Placing a box inside a box inside a box is a classic way to build excitement. Ribbons can range from four-inch wide satin to chiffon and grosgrain. Baling twine or rustic string provide a vintage touch. Adding natural elements such as

greenery, twigs or pine cones is popular. So are jingle bells. Ornaments tied onto the package are decorative and become part of the gift. Handmade bows instead of stick-ons add panache; instructions can be found on the Internet. Flat ribbon is most appropriate for shipping as bows get crushed. For gift tags, use pre-made bookmarks available at craft stores. They can be decorated in numerous ways: punching out wintry designs such as snowflakes; using buttons or fabric circles to represent ornaments ‘hanging’ from the top; hand-lettering a heartfelt message. Personalized key tags or key chains work well. Die-cut initials tied on with ribbon and printable gift tags are available. Gift bags are relatively new to

Nov/Dec 2017


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Bonomos The Upscale Attic the scene and have quickly become the number one way people wrap gifts, according to Hallmark. They are like fruit cakes because they get passed around a lot. Reaching into one may not be quite the same as opening as a wrapped gift, but they are ecologically sound (reusable) and easy to work with. Ambitious wrappers can make their own gift bags out of wrapping paper or newspaper with instructions on the Internet. Burlap is an understated material to gather around items such as wine bottles, and tissue paper can be used in a similar manner for other odd-shaped items – all tied up with ribbon. Children can wrap presents using yarn as ribbon for an easy-to-workwith substitute. Curling ribbon requires only a tutorial on sliding scissors along the ribbon to create the curl. Another simple, attractive option is cutting the fronts off old Christmas cards and taping them to the tops of packages. Tying 18


small packages of candy or candy canes onto gifts is fun. In-home wrapping stations can be created with containers to organize tags, ribbon, scissors, tape and gift bags. They work great for kids and teens or busy wrappers who need supplies at the ready. Gift wrap organizers can range from an inexpensive over-the-door hanging bag to a $500 dream station. Fringe Benefit in Blacksburg is one local retailer who provides free year-round gift wrapping. Owner Nancy Willoughby says she increases the number of gift wrap choices around the holidays. She prefers traditional colors such as red and white and uses cloth ribbon with wire in it to shape pretty bows. Employees are trained in wrapping for quality and speed. Gift bags with colorful tissue are also an option. At Matt Hagan Outdoors, there is a group of employees who “make the cut” to wrap. Karri Whitt says their store’s mix of wrapping customers is about 50/50,

with men appreciating having the chore done well and busy women liking the convenience. For those who still aren’t inspired to wrap or are pressed for time, consider supporting the Montgomery County Emergency Assistance Program’s wrapping booth in the New River Valley Mall. With a long history of “wrapping for a reason,” the booth provides quality wrapping products and wrapping service for a reasonable fee, and all proceeds stay in our community to benefit the most needy among us. Some customers return year after year, counting on the booth to help them make the holiday season easier. Last year, one family dropped off more than 40 gifts. Christmas Eve finds the booth buzzing with activity for those last-minute shoppers who procrastinated and are oh-so-grateful for the service. The aesthetics of a beautifully wrapped package and building anticipation for the surprise inside continue to make gift wrapping, in whatever form, a special art.

Nov/Dec 2017


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When Beer and Art Collide

Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Kristie Lea Photography

Painting photos courtesy of Miller off Main St. Galleries So imagine as a college student at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art, you drop into a bar for a beer one afternoon after painting away part of the day with friends at Brandywine Battlefield. It's not a fancy place, kind of dimly lit with a horseshoe bar on a concrete floor. A man and some dogs enter. He chooses the bar stool between you and a friend and orders a shot and a beer. So, this is sounding like a corny joke, right? No joke. Within 20 seconds you realize that the newcomer is none other than Andrew Wyeth, perhaps the most famous 20


U.S. living artist at the moment. You don't want to say something foolish, so for a minute or two, you don't say anything at all, even pretend like you don't recognize him. But, it's a bar, and conversation flows. It was the first of many 10-minute conversations with Wyeth, a realist painter who, like Walt Hewes, painted the land around him. Hewes drew like all children draw, but in high school in Newtown Square, Penn., the passion for art kicked in, and it's never left him. In the early 1980s, he visited a cousin who owned the [now closed] Newport Hotel in Giles County. Like many

people who visit the New River Valley as tourists or students or to see family, this artist came, fell in love with the area and never left. He has moved a few times in and around Newport across some 30 years and now resides in a small place on Walker Creek where his kitchen doubles as a studio. But Hewes much prefers plein air painting, working outside with a sketch pad or canvas in his lap and his faithful dog, Traveler, nearby. "Many places in Giles County captivate me," he explains. "I go back at different times of the year. Castle Rock, Clover Hollow, Eggleston,

Nov/Dec 2017

Courtesy of Miller off Main St. Galleries

"Many places in Giles County captivate me," he explains. "I go back at different times of the year. Castle Rock, Clover Hollow, Eggleston, the New River" Courtesy of Miller off Main St. Galleries


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There's always something different to see in the same place."



Nov/Dec 2017


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Courtesy of Miller off Main St. Galleries

the New River. I live 50 feet from Walker Creek and 200 yards from where it flows into the New River, so I have painting subjects galore right around me. There's always something different to see in the same place." "He is known as a documenter of the region," says Sarah "Pippi" Miller at Miller off Main St. Galleries in Blacksburg. "Hewes often paints abandoned buildings, which are no longer standing a few years later." Along with Robert Miller, her father and founder of the business more than 40 years ago, Sarah revels in every painting that Hewes delivers. "We have published 80 of his best works into a series of limited edition fine art prints. Collectors insist on being called when a new painting arrives, and one out-of-state patron treasures the pencil drawings. They are exquisite for detail 24


and shading when you consider it is all done with a lead pencil." Hewes is inspired by traditional painters like Wyeth, Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper for their style and the way they see things. He shies away from commissions. "Basically, I end up doing things I'm not excited about, and sheer enthusiasm is a huge component of success in art." He's done a little wood carving, but usually gives that away to friends and devotes his serious time to watercolor, pastel and pencil for his main work. "Hewes is one of the premier New River Valley artists," relates Ed Lawhorn, NRV Market Executive with Union Bank. "The bank purchased four of his original watercolor paintings in the mid-1990s. Two of those ~ the Historic Smithfield Plantation house and Solitude ~ have

been donated to Historic Smithfield for its art collection. My wife, Karen, and I have one original among six framed limited edition prints in our home. He has a real gift for capturing the serenity and natural beauty of rural NRV places." One has to wonder if Hewes himself wanders occasionally into a local bar where a Virginia Tech or Radford University art major is enjoying a beer and would just love a 10-minute conversation with a successful NRV artist whose style follows loosely in the brush strokes of Wyeth, Homer and Hopper. Walt Hewes is exclusively represented at Miller off Main St. Galleries 211 Wilson Ave., Blacksburg Tues-Fri, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m Sat., noon - 5 p.m.

Nov/Dec 2017

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The Beauty of Christmas Trees Text by Joanne M. Anderson Photos by Always and Forever Photography

When you are in the beauty

one shape so I create balance that's

checks out floral departments often for

to manicure design and spill over into

branches and other things sticking out,

business, it can flow from hair styling Christmas tree decorating. And that's

precisely how life goes for Blake Le of Pulaski. He owns In Style Salon in

Christiansburg, Nail Trix at the New River Valley Mall and his own Christmas tree decorating business each holiday season.

"I view it as a large, tall, floral

arrangement, rather than a Christmas tree," says the 27-year-old. "I don't want



better than the triangle of a tree. With plus ornaments and ribbon in unexpected places, it keeps the eyes moving."

Le buys everything he uses on

sale, shopping post-holiday sales year-

round at places like T.J. Maxx, Ross and Michaels. "I love all colors and everything,

especially things which are glittery and sparkling. The more bendy, the better."

While he shops in all seasons, he also

reduced and clearance items.

Working with artificial trees for

their bendy branches, Le begins - much like many artists - not knowing full well

what the end result will be. With trays of trinkets, ornaments, ribbons and sticks,

he simply begins the design process,

tweaking along the way. His signature design features, however, seem to be sticks poking out at the top third of the

tree and wide ribbon. "Wide ribbon is

Nov/Dec 2017

N o v e m b e r / D e c e m b e r 2 0 1 7


easier to work with and is a good way to

love how quiet it is and the much slower

any open space in a tree."

majoring in graphic design and minoring

fill an empty spot. Put a pretty ribbon in

Le moved to the New River

Valley from California with his family in

2001. "This is a great place to live. We 28


pace." He attended Radford University,

in watercolor before stepping into the entrepreneurial arena.

For the last five years, his

flair for Christmas tree decorating has

expanded by word of mouth. He does the holiday tree for Pulaski Theatre, his own

businesses and places from Wytheville to Giles and Floyd counties.

Email: Nov/Dec 2017

RACHEL HOGAN ph: 540.599.0880

SKIP SLOCUM ph: 540.392.8891

If you enjoy a rigorous autumn hike almost as much as you enjoy a delicious meal afterwards, then the New River Valley is the place for you, and Rachel Hogan is your dream guide. An outdoor adventurist at heart, Rachel earned a degree in recreation management and worked at Wilderness Adventure before entering the real estate world 13 years ago. Rachel still thrives on sharing her passion for the outdoors with her family, friends, and clients, “There are countless trails, rivers, and rocks to explore!” She’s been known to lead her clients to the best hiking spots, biking trails, and canoeing putins and take-outs. The best part about an active day in the New River Valley? Working up an appetite! Rachel is a self-proclaimed foodie—she loves to cook, grill, and EAT! Authentic Mexican is her favorite. She shares, “Food brings

people together—we gather together to break bread, share recipes, and relish in each other’s company.” When she has clients who are new to the area, she loves discovering what type of cuisine they prefer, then pointing them in the right direction, or meeting with them at one of her favorite local eateries. As the temperatures begin to drop and the seasons begin to change, Rachel is looking forward to a Hogan family tradition—on the first snowfall of the year, she puts on a big batch of chili, packs beers and snacks for the day, then heads outside with her husband Patrick and their two sons, Braden and Bennett. Along with other families in the neighborhood, they play all day on the sled riding hill, and by the time they return home, the chili is ready, and a feast ensues! Meet Rachel, and learn more at:

This fall, you’re likely to see Nest Associate Broker Skip Slocum and his family rambling along in their vintage camper, setting off on adventure in the New River Valley. The restored 1971 Layton camper has carried the family on boundless adventures along with their dog, Tommy. “He’s a basset hound and doberman mix...and, yes, he looks as funny and cute as that sounds,” laughs Skip. An outdoor enthusiast, Skip enjoys hiking, mountain biking, trail running...and, of course, keeping tabs on the local craft brewery scene. He’s a lead sponsor of a local running shop, and supports the various annual 5Ks, 10Ks and half-marathons in the area. Perhaps most known for his guitar strumming and banjo picking, he’s a regular in the local Appalachian music scene. You may spot him playing in the

“Market Square Jam” on Wednesday nights at the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. He’s actively involved with the market itself, as well as the historic Lyric Theater, where he supports the “Live at the Lyric” music series. While Skip is humbly demure about the organizations and events he sponsors, we happen to know that he supports all things local! He serves on the Board of Directors for Blacksburg’s Downtown Merchants Association, as well as the Board of Directors for the Town of Blacksburg Business Relations Committee, a position which allows him to foster communication between local businesses and the community. And if you happen to have an old Volvo lying around...give Skip a call... he’s addicted to collecting them. Meet Skip, and learn more at:


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Dollar$ to Doors

Alumni Hall Text by Jennifer Poff Cooper

Photos by Silver Pebble Photography While online shopping has become ubiquitous, plenty of New River Valley shoppers still see the advantages of shopping in brick and mortar stores. First and foremost are the strengths of buying local. Local businesses tend to support community groups. Environmental impact is reduced with less transportation required. Local businesses create local jobs. Your sales tax money stays in your own community. And, local businesses regularly buy from or use the services of other businesses in the New River Valley. 30


"I want to buy local every chance I get," says Christine Chittenden, a local Realtor. "Many friends own or work at small businesses, and Blacksburg wouldn’t be the same without them." Kathy Taylor, a teacher at Christiansburg Middle School, relates: “My salary is paid by tax dollars, and I think about keeping the money flowing in the NRV.” Brick and mortar shoppers appreciate the distinctive merchandise selection. June Simonetti of Matrix Gallery says their large inventory of fine arts is

greater than what many online retailers stock. And Pearis Mercantile owner Anne Wheeler diversifies so that her selection is not the same as found online. The store has 30 artisan consigners along with its retail offerings, as well as a section that caters to Appalachian Trail hikers. Wheeler also changes merchandise seasonally so shoppers always find something new. Only in person can you shop local antique, consignment and thrift stores for lovely things you can spruce up with a homemade or personal touch as in

Nov/Dec 2017


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Crab Creek Country Store flea market flipping. Local businesses are able to tailor their offerings to local tastes so you are buying what you prefer, not what an executive in some big city wants you to buy. Of Slaughter’s Garden Center in Floyd, shopper David Dutton observes: “They know the local needs and stock accordingly.” Especially when shopping for a gift, finding something unique is desirable. Lisa Noell of Draper Mercantile says their Village Shoppes have become a destination for gifts that cannot be found at any “cookie cutter store.” Initially there

was trepidation about how well the shops would do, but no more. “People drive from Roanoke and other places more than an hour away for an awesome gift,” she explains. Many shoppers like the idea of knowing exactly what they are getting for someone rather than buying and sending something from a picture off the Internet. Among the benefits of shopping brick and mortar: 

touching products for texture, feel, materials

 checking workmanship for quality  observing true colors  finding things you might not have considered  seeing if it's Made in the USA  knowing the size(s), especially if you are mailing gifts  gaining a true sense of the product  discovering gift ideas which had not crossed your mind  visiting with local merchants and staff

Trust over transactions. That’s the best business banking relationship.

1 NRV MAGAZINE 32 4266_SNB_Business_Ad_16x3.05_NRVMag.indd

Nov/Dec 2017

With the lack of uniform sizing in clothing, an opportunity to try on items is important to many consumers. In shopping for clothes and shoes, Chittenden says, it’s all about sizing. “I really prefer to try things on rather than order multiple sizes and have to spend time shipping stuff back.” Retired professor Scott Butler relates: “I once ordered a pair of oxblood loafers from a catalog (comparable to online ordering), and when they arrived, they looked like a pair of big purple bananas. Sent 'em back.”

Experts say paying in cash is the best way to stick to a budget, which is possible when shopping in person versus online. This can be a lesson for kids in spending money wisely, plus it can teach them the benefits of spending money locally and interacting with people. Simonetti cites assistance her personnel give, saying they may spend an hour or more with a customer. Noell agrees: “People miss contact with someone who can help them find just the right gift.” The entire shopping experience cannot be overlooked: being outside in

crispy air, stepping inside a warm shop, connecting with people, getting wrapped up in the holiday season with decorations and music playing in the stores. Shopping is great with girlfriends or as a motherdaughter or couples event, or hire a babysitter and go solo, weave in a special lunch or coffee shop stop. "Shopping is a social outing for me!" Taylor exclaims. "Besides, who wants to spend more time in front of a screen?” Jennifer Poff Cooper is a Christiansburgbased freelance writer who often shops local in brick and mortar stores for Christmas gifts.

Like you, we strive to be our best every day. So we support the hard work of small business owners like you by understanding your business and providing service and solutions you can trust. That’s how great relationships are formed. Here’s to making your best happen.


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8/18/17 5:08 PM 33

Head Knowledge

~ hair stylists use knowledge in their heads to work with hair on yours

Text and photos by Madison Miller From sweeping the floor and cleaning the sink to learning the muscles in the upper body and a sprinkle of chemistry and mastering people skills, the cosmetologist’s job is comprehensive in science, style and sanitation before picking up those ultra sharp scissors. When you think of a hair stylist or manicurist or nail 34


technician, you may not realize the behindthe-scenes protocols a cosmetologist goes through. Christiansburg High School offers a wonderful cosmetology program, taught by respected instructor Rebecca Fore. Students must complete a two-year journey through their junior and senior years to

earn a license in cosmetology. Besides the hands-on practice across diverse hair and nail skill sets, the curriculum includes these chapters in the Salon Fundamentals textbook:  

Professional Development Salon Ecology

Nov/Dec 2017

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High school salon customers have many services from which to choose:  hair cuts and styling  manicures and pedicures  hair coloring  eyebrow waxing  perms and roller sets  facials  and more.

Rebecca Fore  Anatomy and Physiology  Electricity  Chemistry  Salon Business  Trichology (Study of Hair)  Haircutting  Hairstyling  Wigs and Hair Additions  Chemical Texturizing (perming, relaxing, and curl reforming)  Hair Coloring  The Study of Nails and Skin



Cosmetology participants must learn all these topics in depth and practice on wigs the first year. Students work with real clients in their senior year to earn a minimum of 1,500 salon hours in order to be eligible for licensure. Toward the end of this final year, wanna-be cosmetologists must take state boards which include both written and practical exams. With a passing grade, the license is issued by the Virginia Board for Barbers and Cosmetology and is good for two years.

Cosmetologists use many tools that each stylist has to personally purchase; most salons do not supply tools, only products and basic supplies like towels. To perform even the most basic duties, every hair stylist needs a hair dryer, various types of combs, curling iron(s), multiple brushes, clips, straightener, apron and shears. One way salons are structured is by booth rental, where the stylist pays the owner a set amount every month, and the stylist supplies all the tools and products. Commission is the most popular, however, where the owner furnishes the products and the owner/ stylist split the service price, typically 50/50, but sometimes 60/40 or 70/30. Rebecca Fore is in her second year teaching cosmetology at Christiansburg High School. A graduate of CHS and the cosmetology program, she worked as a hairdresser for five years before accepting this position. “I had this one special lady named Anne who cut my hair from when I was a little girl to a teen-ager," Fore reveals. "She gave me a mannequin, and I would work on it every day. I remember wondering how to cut layers, so I picked up a strand and tried it on myself. I learned how to cut layers before cosmetology class. I thought I wanted to be a nail technician, and then I learned that I was more interested in hair.” Fore loves her job. "The students

"The students and my relationship with them is wonderful, in part because I learn from them."

Nov/Dec 2017

Happy Holidays from Grand Home Furnishings Give the gift of comfort this holiday season.


220 Laurel Street NE

Meet the Artist

Gallery Open House December 16-17

Saturday 11-4 pm, Sunday 12-3 pm

Long Winter’s Nap

223 Gilbert Street, Blacksburg, VA 24060 (540) 552-6446

Validated Parking available at the North End Center Garage


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and my relationship with them is wonderful, in part because I learn from them. I'll teach something one way, and some of them pick up on it and perform the service another way.� One challenge is teaching left-handed students, who perform backwards to the more common right-handed hair stylists. "It can be tricky, but at the same time, it is good for me to interpret skills to my lefthanded students in a way they will master them. I stayed late to perfect it for teaching purposes, and now I think I could cut hair with my left hand.� Fore is still in school to become a Career & Technical Education (CTE) teacher and is taking classes for her teaching degree. Stephanie Guthrie, stylist/nail tech at Studio 700 in Blacksburg, was surprised



at all the head knowledge she had to learn; that is, knowledge about the head and its shape, bones, skin and muscles. "If I notice something odd on the scalp, like an

"Heads are different shapes, and some hair styles work better than others. That's the artistic part, . . ."

unusual pink bump or lesion, I will bring it to the attention of my customer; it might be something to be checked by a doctor or dermatologist. Heads are different shapes, and some hair styles work better than others. That's the artistic part," she says.

Getting your hair cut or a manicure or pedicure may seem like a simple drop-in and walk-out event for you, but cosmetologists have a whole ton of head knowledge inside their heads to work with the hair on your head and nails on your hands and feet. Madison Miller is a 2017 CHS graduate of the cosmetology program and a student at New River Community College. She is a hair stylist at Hair It Is and an aspiring photographer.

Christiansburg High School Cosmetology Department is open to the public: Wed., Thurs. and Friday, 11 a.m. -- 1:55 p.m. 540-382-5178, ask for Cosmetology or press 4

Nov/Dec 2017


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The Center of Attention Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts


Our eyes seek out beauty

food. What your centerpiece lacks in

in wooden bowls and baskets make for

the single red rose on the writing desk,

charm. An old teapot as a flower vase, a

a truly edible arrangement. For those

wherever they wander. Whether it be the flickering flame of a fragrant candle

greeting guests, or a festive holiday

arrangement on the table, a centerpiece is a focal point for us to rest our gaze

upon. It draws us in and lets us take note of the beautiful things in this world.

And it doesn’t have to be much.

Keeping a low-profile centerpiece allows us to see the faces across the table and

saves valuable space for things like napkins, forks and piping hot plates of 40


size, it can make up for in creativity and galvanized tin silverware caddy, even a beautiful wreath or an ornamental bird’s nest can help bring the outdoors inside

and enhance the visual appeal at your table.

For the fall season, think of

stacking small pumpkins atop a simple

cake stand, and placing pinecones inside a decorative bird cage. Adorn the scene

with acorns and a scattering of colorful silk leaves. Apples and lemons tucked

sort of a real life still life and double as wishing to make a bigger statement, the “horn of plenty” cornucopia idea brings history and a bit of Greek folklore into the modern day. A symbol of prosperity,

good fortune and abundance, the

cornucopia can be filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains (corn!), leaves,

flowers and even cattail. It is a wonderful

way to celebrate nature’s gifts during the harvest season.

As it begins getting darker

Nov/Dec 2017

earlier, centerpieces can be additional

You just can’t beat a homemade

Christmas closes in, buy a large bag

traditional “candlelight dinner” you can

neighbor makes centerpieces out of

with the same vessels to add holly and

sources of light. As an update to the

place a strand of mini lights inside a glass cloche and add a few touches of seasonal decor. Contemporary lantern candle holders and even old-fashioned

oil lanterns can add interest to a desk or

entryway table. Making your very own rustic wooden log candle holder, or Yule Log, is an excellent way to rescue and repurpose a fallen tree branch. A saw,

drill and some tea lights are all you need to bring this idea home. Place a few logs

of different heights together and tie them with a festive ribbon.





evergreen trees and holly bushes in her yard. She weaves branches of holly with

bright red berries into bundles of pine needles and swags from her Christmas

tree, and places a large red candle in the center. She sets the arrangement atop a

large golden charger plate with about a

quarter inch of water to keep it fresh all season.

Get kids involved with mini

painted pumpkins or baskets and

wood bowls with twigs, pine cones

and bittersweet collected outside. As


of small ornaments and head outside

evergreen pieces. Each child can make his or her own and find a place in the home to display it and show it off.

The centerpiece on a round

table is most appropriate in the middle,

but can run along the long middle on a rectangular table or corner to corner on a square one. It is the center of attention

on the table, but never can top the food and fellowship around the table.

Emily Kathleen Alberts a regular contributor to New River Valley Magazine who makes centerpieces often with her children for different holidays.

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Cancer Kids and Christmas in a cynical world, maybe some good deeds do go unpunished

Text by Becky Hepler Photos by Always and Forever Photography It’s a philanthropic system so unorganized it is not even a 501c, but Cancer Kids and Christmas, in its short five years of operation, has helped more than 30 families have a better holiday in the face of a cancer-ravaged situation. The organization grew out of one man keeping his promise to God. Travis Sparks of Narrows was diagnosed with colon cancer in the spring of 2012. As he was going under the knife, he said: “If you leave me here, I’ll work with families that are in the shape I am in now.” By October of that year, he still hadn’t figured out what that meant until one day during chemo, while chatting up the patient in the next chair, her story pointed 42


the way. The young woman with three children and a husband in construction, whose work season was slowing down because of the onset of winter, was facing a bleak Christmas. Her family could not help because her mother had also been in treatment for cancer. “You don’t know me," Sparks started, "but if you will send me an address, I’ll make sure that the kids get a good Christmas.” That launched Cancer Kids and Christmas. Sparks raised the money that first year by telling the sad story at work and passing the hat, which raised $750 for the young Floyd County family. Each succeeding year, he devised additional ways of raising cash, and along the way

gathered a group of volunteers who help him raise more money so they can help more people. This year, 15 families will have a brighter Christmas. Sparks has only two criteria:  

a family member is beset by cancer (child or parent) money must be spent on providing a Christmas celebration

The key event is a two-day extravaganza beginning with a hot dog supper and concert. Several groups perform, including Eric Gress, who opened for Travis Tritt at the New River Valley Fair this year. Saturday activities

Nov/Dec 2017

include breakfast with Santa, a Kid Zone with face-painting, craft activities and a bouncy house. Other musical acts and a puppet show are on tap as well as a corn hole tournament and vendors selling food, drink and crafts all day. In the afternoon comes the main moneymaker, a live auction for goods and services that have been collected from people and retailers throughout the area. There is no admission fee. Cancer Kids and Christmas grew from Sparks’ vision, but he is quick to praise and credit the work of his volunteers. There are no administrative fees or costs so all the money goes to the families. One of the more interesting facets of this program is the organic yet unofficial organization that has sprung up to do the work. Sometimes Sparks suggests a person to take over a job, but more often it’s the person stepping out with: "I'll be in charge of this," like Anna Welch of Narrows. She organizes and sets up the Kid Zone. Chuck and Mary Katherine Buracker spend the year finding auction items and work tirelessly on the big event, setting up, running the corn hole tournament, helping things run smoothly and cleaning up afterward. The Town of Pearisburg has granted Travis free lifetime rights to use the community center for the November event, and the local branch of National Bank of Blacksburg collects donations to the fund. There are groups that create fundraising events, like the fun run and a golf tournament, which give the money to Cancer Kids and Christmas. “We do it because we’ve known Travis since forever,” says Welch, “and because we’ve all been touched by cancer, in some way or the other, and it’s good to be able to help.” “It’s just a little bit of my time,” relates Chuck Buracker, “but what a great return.” The Facebook page for Cancer Kids and Christmas is filled with examples of where one good turn creates another, one generous act spawns three more. Bobby Lilly, Commonwealth Attorney for Giles County and a friend of Sparks declares: “Travis is the epitome of 'One Man Can Make a Difference.' While he is quick to point out the work of others, I don’t think we would be inspired to do what we do without Travis. He gives us the opportunity to do good and be part of something larger than ourselves.” Bluefield residents Becky and Robert Steele and their three children are CK&C recipients and caught Sparks’ attention when he found out Robert had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer that has now spread to his stomach. “I had never even heard of Cancer Kids and Christmas, so it was shocking to get Travis’ message,” says Becky. “We are so grateful. It means the world to us.” Becky Hepler is a freelance writer and resident of Giles County. You can find CK&C on Facebook Friday, Nov. 17, 5 p.m. ~ Hot Dog Supper and Concert Saturday, Nov. 18, 8 a.m. ~ Breakfast with Santa and all day activities Saturday, Nov. 18, 2 p.m. ~ Auction Pearisburg Community Center ~ Free Admission


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2017 Buying Local

alligator alley

This holiday season, shop at Alligator Alley for all of your men’s and women’s original brands like Vineyard Vines, Barbour, Lacoste, Fish Hippie, Lauren James, Sperry and others. You’re sure to find something right up your alley – when you shop at Alligator Alley.


The Shops at Clay Court 401 South Main St. Blacksburg The Corners Shopping Center 5207 Bernard Dr. Roanoke. Blacksburg - 540-552-4287 Roanoke - 540-772-4287 FISH HIPPIE CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES ARE AVAILABLE AT: THE CORNERS SHOPPING CENTER 5207 BERNARD DR ROANOKE 540 772 4287 THE SHOPS AT CLAY COURT 401 SOUTH MAIN ST BLACKSBURG 540 552 4287

pearis Mercantile


Are you looking for a treasure for yourself or maybe for someone special? Then Pearis Mercantile is the place to be! Located in Downtown Pearisburg, you will find unique shopping with 35 Artisan Consigners, speciality gifts and ideas. Shop the holiday ornaments & home décor for inside or outdoor. You will find so many wonderful items it may be hard to make a decision. The friendly sales staff can help with your selection & a gift bag comes with every purchase. Open daily with special Sunday Hours that start before Thanksgiving until Christmas. 200 N. Main St. 540.921.2260

Allure Spa & Skin Health Boutique

Offering:Massage Therapy, Facials, Microdermabrasion, Chemical Peels, Dermaplane, Microcurrent, & much more! Bridal & Special Occasion packages Professional skin care lines:Dermalogica & Jane Iredale mineral makeup in stock GIFT CERTIFICATES & online booking available.

540-921-2300 44


Nov/Dec 2017


Buying Local Gift Guide The Upscale Attic


Smithfield Looking for an unique gift? Plantation We have over 75 items Smithfield will have their arriving daily! Since 2007, "Wrapping Up The Season our collection of gently used Sale" with 20% off all furniture & home decor merchandise during the end includes a variety of styles of their seasonal year event Capones Fine Jewelry and is priced far below retail. "The Holidays at Smithfield Just a year ago Capone’s Fine Jewelry moved into the Historic You're sure to find a treasure 2017: Forged in the Season" Brownstone, Main St., Blacksburg. Since the move, they have at The Upscale Attic! We also Dec.1 - Dec. 3. The store offer gift cards. showroom Visit us inand repair space. Now in established a remarkable will be open only to extend 360 Arbor their 31stChristiansburg year, Capone’satcontinues to offerthe custom designsDec. of 8 from sale through Tues.-Fri. 10-5 & Sat. 10-4services. a special Drive. flair, repairs and evaluation Their goal is toSmithfield 10am to 4pm. 1000 540.381.0551 provide the finest quality in precious gems, designs andRoad, customer Plantation Blacksburg service to the NRV. The Capone Family would like to invite 540.231.3947 your family toThe visit Orange them soon for the Holidays. Convenient Benefit parking isBandana provided behind the shop off ofFringe Washington St. Baskets Unwrap a taste of home this

holiday season540-953-1000 with locallymade gift baskets. Our gifts feature everything from velvety wines and spa products to delicious treats from small businesses. Online shopping and nationwide shipping ensures Santa gets there on time.

Matrix Gallery

A great little gallery full of quality American Crafts by local, regional and national artists. Pottery, Glass, Jewelry, Wood, Leather, and more. Beautiful holiday gifts that are functional, decorative, and fun! Located at 115 N. Main St. in Downtown Blacksburg 540.951.3566

wine & Design

Nightly Public Studio Classes (includes 2 glasses of wine - optional)

On Wheels (at your location) Private pARTies (birthday, bachelorette, GNO, etc.) Art Buzz Kids Classes Art Buzz Kids Birthday pARTies Art Buzz Kids Camps Team Building Paint it Forward (fundraising)

540-381-6964 45

Wrap the woman in your life in style with accessories, jewelry, sweaters, bath products, locally made soaps and lotions and unique gifts, or a gift certificate to Fringe Benefit. Make sure you get exactly what you want by filling out a Fringe Benefit wish list at our store, located at 117 North Main Street in Blacksburg. 540.951.9777

Downtown Blacksburg Inc.

Purchase a Downtown Blacksburg Inc. Gift Certificate redeemable at over 60 downtown businesses! Gift Certificates are available at National Bank of Blacksburg’s downtown branch and make great gifts! Buy, Eat, Live Local 540-544-7700


Fresh-cut local Firs & White Pines to make the holidays special. Decorate your home with customized Wreaths, Bows, & Mantel Swags. We offer many local Jams & Jellies, Candy, Assorted Fudge, & Wine to fill up your gift baskets this holiday season. Reserve a home cooked meal for any family gathering. Hrs: M-S 7am - 10 pm, Sun:9 - 10pm. 820 Hethwood Dr., Blacksburg, near VT Campus. 540.951.0990

N R V M A G A Z I N E November/December 2015

Holiday Season ...

NR V F o o d F a re

The holiday season is a memorable time of year with special treats, drinks and meals. Peppermint bark appears in the Williams-Sonoma catalog, and Ghiradelli chocolate squares of this flavor grace market shelves. But, you can make it at home in under an hour. Mulled wine came into vogue in the 2nd century when Romans heated wine to drink in an effort to stay warm in winter. Europeans added spices to promote wellness. Variations are abundant, and it still warms the tummy in winter. Cupcakes may have been so named for having been baked in cups or for the switch of weighing baking ingredients to measuring with cups or cup portions. Whatever the reason, we're glad they are here for less baking time, individual servings and the delight in decorating enjoyed by all ages. Compiled by Joanne M. Anderson

Mulled Wine 4 servings

1 large orange 6 whole cloves 6 whole black peppercorns 1 bottle (3 cups) fruity red wine 2 cardamom pods 6 allspice berries 1 cinnamon stick (+ 4 for garnish) 1/2 cup sugar



1/4 cup fresh cranberries (for garnish) Grate zest with fine grater, then juice the orange. With flat side of knife, press on cardamom pods to bruise them. In large non-aluminum pot, combine orange zest and juice, cardamom, cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon, wine, sugar and brandy. Cook over

medium heat until sugar dissolves, always stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; simmer until flavors have melded; about 30 minutes. Pour through fine mesh sieve, garnish with cinnamon stick and fresh cranberries. Enjoy. courtesy of with cranberries added

Nov/Dec Nov/Dec 2017 2017

.... special

treats Peppermint Bark • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or other dark chocolate broken in pieces • canola oil • peppermint extract • 8 ounces white chocolate chips or other white chocolate, broken into pieces • 15 peppermint candies or equivalent candy canes, crushed Lightly grease a 9x9 inch pan and line with waxed paper. Place semisweet chocolate and 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir often. When the chocolate is melted, add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Pour into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Refrigerate about an hour until completely hard. Melt white chocolate and 1 teaspoon of canola oil in a double boiler over simmering water. Stir often. When all melted, add 1/2 tsp peppermint extract. Pour on the semisweet chocolate layer and spread evenly. Sprinkle the crushed candy; gently press down. Refrigerate until completely hardened. Remove from pan; break into small pieces.

Vanilla Holiday Cupcakes One Dozen

1/2 cup softened butter 3/4 to 1 cup sugar 2 eggs 2 tsp. vanilla extract 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 2/3 cup cold milk Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each one. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredient, then milk. Bake at 350º, 18-22 minutes. Decorate with colored frosting and sprinkles.

N o v e m b eNr /oDv e cmebme br /eD r e c2 e0 m 1 7b e r 2 0 1 7


Community-Centered and Customer-Focused

Text by Becky Hepler Photos by Always and Forever Photography While the Corner Market Country Store looks like your typical gasand-go food mart, a closer look reveals a locavore’s dream. Colorful fresh produce is abundant, along with gourmet items such as Amish butter and eggs and local honey. Of course, you can still grab a cup of coffee and a newspaper while paying for your fuel. As Drema Thompson, Giles County native and owner of the Corner Market, likes to say, she comes from a long line of peddlers. Like her father and grandfather, she and her husband would take a 2 1/2-ton truck to the big 48


farmers markets in North Carolina and Virginia to load up on produce, then go to several little towns and waysides in the New River Valley area to sell their goods. After the birth of their two sons, however, they got out of retail and chose different career paths, she in bookkeeping and accounting, he in law enforcement, including a State Police gig that took them to northern Virginia. Eventually a vacancy surfaced in Giles County, and they came home. Drema decided to return to her roots as well. “Selling from a truck has low overhead, but loading and unloading

is exhausting," she explains. "You can lose a lot of perishable product, and the weather can really mess with your plans.” So Thompson started looking for a permanent place. When the Rich Creek property became available, she, her brother and his wife snapped it up immediately and within a month, in April of 2001, they were open for business. The market is definitely on an important, visible corner at the intersection of Route 219 and Old Virginia Ave., which was U.S. 460 before the bypass was built. In 1929, Togo Spangler, son of Rich Creek’s first mayor, built a service

Nov/Dec 2017


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station in the shape of an airplane at that location, hoping to attract the growing automobile traffic. A painting of this hangs in the current store. The attraction stood there until 1954, when a fuel truck clipped one of the wings and the whole structure was subsequently torn down. These days, Thompson relies on friendly service and high quality produce to bring in the customers. She has contracts with many local farmers to sell their goods, some of whom go back to her truck days. Everything must meet her 50


demanding standards, and she specializes in foods not found in chain stores, such as half runner beans. "We work with lots of small farmers so we can get a wider range of products than might be available from the big agribusiness producers." The produce is augmented with various preserved foods such as jelly, jams and syrups as well as pickles. There is a wide selection of old-fashioned candies that can be bought in bulk or by the piece. In addition to foodstuffs, customers can find decorative items like hanging flower

baskets in spring and summer, potted mums, pumpkins and cornstalks in the fall and other seasonal decor. The store also stocks animal corn and bird seed. The business remains a family affair. Thompson’s son, Adam, who as a teenager worked at the store, bought out his uncle and aunt’s share in 2014. While still working as a civil engineer for a regional construction company, he is busy in the business end, will work on weekends if needed and has definite ideas on how to be successful. "It’s hard to keep a business going. Many flame out, but our core business principles are a commitment to service, in order to create a loyal customer base, a great product and good prices," he explains. He figures 80 percent of the business are regulars, and that’s regional, not just local, with return customers from Roanoke to Beckley, W.V., and all in between. Thompson is a bit of an economic engine, employing nine non-family members, four of which are full time. All are trained to emphasize the friendly service, including niceties such as helping customers pump gas or carry groceries to the car. “We want to be helpful and friendly, and not too overbearing,” states Adam. “It’s important that our customers get what they want. If the product is not good, we want them to bring it back, and we will get them another one.” There is a huge commitment to community. “Our customers are so loyal to us, and we want to help support them,” Thompson comments. So you can find her donating peppers and onions for the spaghetti dinner at the high school or other products for an after prom party or drinks for the basketball team fundraiser. “We want to maintain a family business that’s valuable to our neighbors and be a community-based business.” Becky Hepler is a Newport-based freelance writer and retired high school librarian.

Nov/Dec 2017


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BT’s: Food, Fun & Friends since 1983 Text by Emily Kathleen Alberts | Photos by Always and Forever Photography “You can’t beat Wanda’s soups!” says Diane Whitehead, wife of BT’s founder Tom Whitehead. “Every morning I come in here, Wanda is in the kitchen chopping like mad. She makes all her soups from scratch.” Wanda Rigney is the talented kitchen manager at BT’s and has been cooking up spot-hitting creations for many years. “You just can’t find too many places like this,” she explains. “BT’s is a big part of people’s lives.” Located on Tyler Avenue in the heart of downtown Radford, BT’s ambiance is sure to lift your mood. Though its 52


mascot is a frog, it could just as easily be a chameleon, the way the clientele changes throughout the day. From young families and professionals on lunch breaks, to grad students and business folks during happy hour, to the eclectic dinner crowd, which Diane says is “every age known to man” -- and finally, when late night rolls around, the students take over. The open floor plan has plenty of high-top dining tables and a separate billiards room for shooting pool, an outdoor patio lined with palm trees, a cozy bar with industrial style globe pendant lighting and an upstairs for hosting

events. All was part of a recent remodel that, surprisingly, never shut down the restaurant. Hal Clary, resident construction expert, said yes to the undertaking on a leap of faith, which had him working from 3 - 11 a.m. for two solid months. “It’s a neighborhood place AND a student hangout,” says Hal. “We have somehow managed to get that balance right.” Tom agrees. “There is no pretense. Professors meet students for lunch, the working class and the business crowd all drink and dine together.” BT’s has phenomenally loyal customers. “You can set your clocks by some of these folks,” Tom laughs.

Nov/Dec 2017

“It’s like a Cheers!” Diane adds. “I am endlessly fascinated with the clientele.” Many of their regulars are born and raised here since Radford is less transient than other nearby areas. “We have parents who brought their kids here when they were little – who have since grown up and now bring their children. Students who meet here will get married and bring their kids, and long time employees often settle down and start families together. Originally from West Virginia, Tom Whitehead came to Virginia Tech back in the '70s to play basketball. Working as a waiter and majoring in business, Tom had the smarts backed by

Working as a waiter and majoring in business, Tom had the smarts backed by real world experience in the hospitality industry. real world experience in the hospitality industry. “Back in those days, two places served beer and that was it, so we started a ‘liquor by the drink’ club where we got to meet all the movers and shakers in town and sit down with pillars of the community.” Tom was also part of a Rock ‘n’ Roll nightclub on Main Street in Blacksburg where the Tech Bookstore is now. The club was called “After Sundown” and would bring a thousand plus people from miles around to enjoy the disco light show and bands such as R.E.M., The Bangles, Marshall Crenshaw and Modern English. Tom put the “T” in BT’s when he founded the restaurant 35 years ago, with partner Bill Ellenbogen. “There wasn’t much here, and this place was in rough shape. It was definitely a college beer bar,” Tom remembers. But the pair worked together to remodel the restaurant. “We ran out of money twice and went back to the bank.” Though Bill moved on after just a year, Tom hunkered down and stayed the course. After more than three successful decades, he notes: “The times and the market may have changed, but our mission has never changed.”


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From day one, BT’s has stayed true to its motto of Food, Fun & Friends. By offering patrons an affordable place to eat, a cozy place to meet and a fun place to mingle, they have cracked the code of the often-challenging restaurant industry. “Maintaining a talented and committed staff has been the key,” Tom shares. “And paying attention to the details.” Details like “keep a nice salad” go far in an industry where everyone offers a salad. “You need to make sure that yours is one of the best, because that is an easy thing for people to compare.” 54


And of course, the knock-yoursocks-off soup. “Sometimes if I am going to an event I will just order up a big ol’ jug of it and take it with me,” Diane declares. “People are always pleasantly surprised!” Diane has also been a key factor in the success of BTs. Her eye for design was crucial in the recent remodel, and she has influenced the ambiance of the restaurant throughout the decades. She loves showing off art she has commissioned such as the stained-glass pieces in the upstairs windows and the tee

shirt murals inspired by the famous frogs on BTs shirt designs. And at a recent wedding event where Diane and Tom were surrounded by the ever-growing families of their dedicated employees, the smiles of their loyal patrons and a boat load of all of their children, Diane and Tom witnessed how their love of food, fun and friends has truly given them a family.

Written by Emily K. Alberts, a bona fide witness of the wonderfulness of Wanda’s soups.

Nov/Dec 2017


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Moving Households to, from and around the New River Valley

Text by Karl H. Kazaks Photos by Tom Wallace From the driver’s seat perch of his 2009 Freightliner Cascadia semi truck, Lou Bartlett commands quite a view. Through a wide, two-paned windshield, he can see his tractor’s long nose, encasing a powerful Detroit diesel engine and the traffic and road ahead. Two mirrors on each side, one on top of the other, allow him to see what’s happening alongside and behind his tractor and trailer, with one mirror on each side set to offer a close view, the other a more distant view. The instrument panel has some 56


of the gauges you’d see in a normal automobile, plus others specific to a tractor trailer, such as axle temperature and air pressure – important for a ride whose suspension and brakes depend on air. Those are the sorts of things you’d see in just about any Freightliner, which is the nation’s top-selling selling brand of semi truck. What you’ll find only in Bartlett’s truck, however, is his traveling companion – a large, stuffed Winnie the Pooh. “He’s Facebook famous,” Bartlett explains.

“People ride by, see him there with me and wave and honk.” Bartlett is a household goods driver for Clinton’s Transfer & Storage of Blacksburg, which has been in business for 69 years. Founded by Clinton Graves in 1948, the business is owned by Clinton’s son Brian and managed by Brian Saari, president. Clinton started in the business of cleaning rugs. He also operated a taxi service, but the moving and storage business has been the mainstay of the company for a long time.

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Mark Parcell, director of sales and marketing, was a boys’ basketball coach at Blacksburg High School before coming to Clinton’s in 2014. He got his first taste of the moving business in his college summers when working alongside his friend and classmate, Brian Graves, moving furniture. Clinton’s has six full-time local movers, three of whom have commercial driver’s licenses. During the summer, they hire extra part-time help. The business has five box trucks up to 26 feet long for local moves. It also has two tractors and about a dozen trailers from 40 to 53 feet long. Clinton’s is an agent for North American Van Lines, responsible for overseeing moves originating in the New River Valley and southwest Virginia. To make it all work, Clinton’s uses three full-time over-the-road drivers and 11 contract owner-operators, who live all around the country. Even though Clinton’s is based in Blacksburg, its drivers work from coast to coast. In part, that’s to make sure the trucks are used most efficiently. For example, Bartlett recently oversaw a household move to Montana. Once he arrived out West, he picked up another load that originated out there. 58


The Freightliner Cascadia, which is made by a subsidiary of Daimler, is known as a Class 8 truck, because it is rated to carry more than 33,000 pounds. Household goods drivers like Bartlett get paid by calculating weight hauled and mileage driven. It’s called a semi truck because it is used in tandem with semi-trailers, which have no front wheels and can only be moved when connected to a tractor or cab. Bartlett, who has been in the moving business since 1984, likes his Cascadia because it has an extra storage box behind the driving cabin, providing more room to pack household furniture. It has two fuel tanks, one which stores 90 gallons of diesel, the other 150 gallons. “I don’t run with full tanks, though,” he says. Instead, he just fuels up each morning with what he needs for that day’s haul because he’s had fuel stolen from him three different times. Because Bartlett works the long-distance moves, he could be out on the road for a month or more at a time. He doesn’t mind; his life is in the moving business. “My brother and I had a paper route in high school,” he recalls. “A guy on our route in the town where we lived had a moving company. We went to work for him, and the rest is history.”

Nov/Dec 2017

DCJS #11-9804


Home Safe Home · 745-2111 Also find us on Facebook!


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Newsy Relevant Valuable A round-up of items of interest across the NRV

Jesus is the Reason for the Season

Live Nativity Scene Gateway Baptist Church 2196 Harding Road ~ Blacksburg Fri., Sat., and Sunday, Dec. 8, 9, 10 ~ 6 - 9 p.m. DRAPER MERCANTILE'S

Business Expo 2017

Wed., Nov. 15; open to the public 3 - 5:30 p.m. Chamber Business After Hours, 5:30 - 7 p.m.

Inn at Virginia Tech

Montgomery County businesses network with the public and with one another. A great opportunity to connect with local businesses and business owners, ask questions, find answers, discover new products and services.

SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY Meet Santa, Baking Contest and more!

Sat., Dec. 2, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

---------------------------------------------------You and a few friends can be seated for dinner inside a life-sized gingerbread house! Chef's dinners are offered Nov. 18 and 25, plus Dec. 9, 23 and 30, first come first served. Gingerbread classes for kids and many more holiday events at

Saturday, November 25

Celebrate the small shops in our New River Valley communities for Christmas gifts, birthday presents and treats for friends and family year-round. The highest performing EarthCraft-certified home in Virginia was designed and built by Blacksburg-based Shelter Alternatives and recognized with a 2017 Award of Excellence at the EarthCraft Celebration of Excellence in October. Owner Ed Tuchler accepted the award which recognizes projects that exhibit steadfast commitment to sustainable building practices. Asked how his company managed to win over home builders in Atlanta, Charleston and the whole southeast region, Tuchler replied: “We embrace science with creativity and intention to improve the livability of our homes.� EarthCraft is a green building certification program established in 1999. It is designed to address the climate in the Southeast by creating and maintaining energy and resource efficient living environments. 60


Nov/Dec 2017

Tuesday - December 5th

Tree Lighting Ceremony - 5:00-6:45 p.m. Parade of Lights - 7:00 p.m.

For more than 15 years, Musica Viva! volunteers have worked tirelessly to promote awareness and appreciation of chamber music specifically and the arts in general. Internationally-acclaimed musicians perform in five or more chamber events each year. Musica Viva! is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. All members of the Board of Directors and the Artistic Direction serve without compensation.

Join us for local shopping and dining in Radford For more information go to:

Autumn Joy - Chamber Music for Piano and Strings Sunday, Nov. 12, 3 p.m. Squires Recital Salon at Virginia Tech Chamber music of various combinations, including Mendelssohn Sextet, known for the great virtuosity demanded of the pianist and unusual instrumentation of the violin, two violas, cello, double bass and piano. Also the Virginia premier of Richard Ratner's Piano Quintet and a piano duet for four hands.

Music of the Great Masters Beethoven, Mozart and Smetana Sunday, Dec. 10, 3 p.m. Squires Recital Salon at Virginia Tech Features the beautiful and charming Beethoven String Trio in E-flat Major, op. 3, the uplifting Mozart Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, K. 493, and the dramatic Smetana Piano Trio in g minor. For more information go to:

Pulaski County is . . .

This new local campaign in Pulaski County is your opportunity to share what this rural county is ... [to you!] Go to Facebook. Look for Pulaskicountyis and click on photos, then click on the blue box that says: What is Pulaski County to You? You can add your two cents here and see what others are saying! And you can "Show us!" at #PulaskiCountyIs. Find out more about this special part of the NRV at It's just up the road or down the road or around the bend.


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Keep the Holidays

Merry and Bright

Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays quite like the glow of bright, colorful lights. Few things, however, can put a damper on holiday decorating quite like seeing a section of those freshly hung lights go dark. “It’s a shame when you go through the hassle to get your light sets and pre-lit decor, such as your pre-lit tree, wreath or lawn ornaments, out of storage only to find some sets only partially work or don’t work at all,” said John DeCosmo, CEO of Ulta-Lit Tree Company, the maker of the LightKeeper Pro, a tool that fixes light sets by illuminating working bulbs so the user can see the bad ones. “When light sets go out, it’s as if a bit of your Christmas spirit did, too. “We understand the frustration of light set repair, and hope our customer service and light set repair tools make the holidays a bit brighter for all each year.” With these pro tips, you can keep your holiday lights bright and spirits merry: 62


• Measure: When planning the number of lights you will need for your tree, estimate using at least 100 lights for every foot of tree height. • Decide Between LED vs. Incandescent: LEDs are more expensive than incandescent lights, but typically last longer. When it comes to energy usage, a tree with 1,000 incandescent lights can cost $10 over an average holiday season while the same tree using LEDs costs around $1.50. • Consider Indoor vs. Outdoor: Commercial-grade light sets are more reliable for outdoor use because of their durability and thicker insulation. • Inspect: Before stringing lights, check for broken bulbs and sockets, frayed cords, burned out lights and loose connections. For sets with bulb outages, use a tool such as the LightKeeper Pro for incandescent lights. Plug the empty bulb socket into the Socket Connector then squeeze the trigger a few times and most light sets will illuminate within seconds.

For LED lights, the LED Keeper can help find and fix the problem. • Connect: For best results when using incandescent lights, connect no more than three strands of mini-string sets together. LED light sets can handle connecting more than 30 strands together. • String: When stringing lights on a tree, begin at the top of the tree with the light set plugged in. If a light set blinks during stringing the tree, you may have a loose bulb. • Replace and repair: Occasionally check for any bulbs that aren’t working and replace them as soon as possible to get the most of your light sets. Two burned out bulbs can decrease the lifespan of the light set by 39 percent; four burned out bulbs by 67 percent. Should your lights go dark this holiday season, the pros at Ulta-Lit are available to answer questions seven days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and year-round, at 888-8582548 or (Family Features)

Nov/Dec 2017

Eric, Emma and Megan prep for the holidays.


NRV Magazine Nov-Dec 2017  

New River Valley, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Radford, Montgomery County, Giles County, Floyd County, Pulaski County, Virginia Tech, Radford...