If you grew up in one of Virginia’s small towns, you may remember the days of walking to the local general store. Whether you were picking up household supplies for Mom or just a few pieces of candy or an ice cream cone for yourself, these stores served as a hub of community activity. Looking back and remembering these places creates strong feelings of nostalgia for the “good old days”, but luckily, such stores still exist in Virginia. Discover a simpler era when you visit one of these general stores around the Commonwealth.
Floyd Country Store—Floyd
Head to Floyd Country Store in Southwest Virginia to experience an authentic general store that is over 100 years old. They serve up homemade country food, milkshakes, hand-dipped ice cream cones, and everything else you expect to find at a diner-style store, but the real reason the locals show up every week without fail is the Friday Night Jamboree, where local bluegrass, old-time, gospel, and country music bands play live in the store.
Crossroads Store—North Garden
Crossroads Store sits just south of Charlottesville on Route 29 and has been around almost 200 years, originally opening in 1820. Nowadays, the country store operates as a one stop shop, with gas pumps and a deli that serves breakfast, lunch, and a limited menu of cold sandwiches all day long. If you have a sweet tooth, you definitely shouldn’t miss this local shop; they serve homemade fudge in as many as 15 flavors!
Burke’s Garden General Store—Tazewell
If you’re planning a trip to Burke’s Garden, often referred to as “God’s Thumbprint”, make sure you stop by Burke’s Garden General Store in Tazewell, which sells Amish-made baked goods, crafts, and handmade quilts. As you enter this small rural general store, you’re completely surrounded by rich wood, with old wooden flooring, beams, and shelves filling the quaint yet fully stocked space. Order lunch and sit on the porch swing as you enjoy the peace and quiet of this enchanting community. The homemade cinnamon rolls, pies, and breads will beat anything found at your typical grocery store (unless you’re counting calories).
BW Country Store—Wytheville
Located at Big Walker Lookout high atop Big Walker Mountain on scenic Highway 52, BW Country Store carries goods and crafts made by artists and craftspeople from the Southwest Virginia region. Like any authentic general store, the shop stocks a wide selection of items, from kitchen wares to unique gifts. There are many canned goods to add to your pantry, including locally made jams, jellies, and relishes. For an indulgent treat, sample their homemade fudge or ice cream (or both, we’re not judging!). On the weekends from May to October, the country store hosts live music from local bands. Check their event listings for historic demonstrations to learn essential skills of the past, such as lye soap making, blacksmithing, or apple butter cooking.
Paint Bank General Store—Paint Bank
You may expect hallmarks like old wooden floors or tin ceilings to appear inside a general store, but what about a working swinging bridge? Visitors come from all around to visit this general store and travel across the wonderfully bizarre indoor landmark found at Paint Bank General Store. The shop stocks everything from groceries like farm-raised buffalo meats to unique gift items, and they even have a year-round Christmas shop section. If you enter hungry, grab a bite at the restaurant, located inside of the general store.
Sugar Tree Country Store—McDowell
Built in the 1800s in the mountain region known as “Virginia’s Little Switzerland”, Sugar Tree Country Store carries many old-fashioned country items like wooden toys and handcrafted goods, but their claim to fame is everything maple: Highland County maple syrup, maple-covered donuts, maple sugar candy…The list goes on and on. The region is famous in Virginia for their booming maple industry, and the small country store stocks almost every item imaginable with the popular natural flavor. They also sell other locally sourced items like homemade apple butter and honey harvested from right down the road.
The General Store at Smith Mountain Lake—Moneta
The General Store at Smith Mountain Lake serves the surrounding communities in every way, not just food and home goods. They specialize in selling Virginia-made products, including handmade gifts, unique candies, old-fashioned toys, and a variety of snacks. Local artists contribute to the Quilt Shack, a part of the store that retails handmade quilts. If you’re interested in learning about the art of quilting, check the store’s events page for their quilting classes, or pick up a quilting book and supplies to get started on your own quilting project.
At the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Layne’s Country Store has been providing the folks of Rockbridge County with household necessities since 1954. You’ll find plenty of fresh produce and locally-sourced cut flowers, along with genuine country hams, jams, jellies, and even homemade pies. Pack a picnic at the store before you head up into the mountains, or stop in on your way to Virginia Safari Park or Natural Bridge Park, both only a few miles away.
Yoder’s Country Market—Pratts
Part store and part farm, Yoder’s Country Market is about 30 minutes north of Charlottesville. The shop has a deli with over 150 meats and cheese available. You can purchase your own deli items to take home or order one of their specialty sandwiches, wraps, or Paninis. On a hot day, there are few things more refreshing than their hand dipped ice cream, available in more than a dozen flavors, and if you’re searching for organic or gluten-free, the shop has an extensive selection. Locals rave about the Amish-made baked goods, breads, and desserts. Additionally, you can pick up spices, jams, snacks, candies, and gifts at the country market. Another nostalgic touch is the milk, available in old-fashioned glass bottles. Once you finish browsing the shop, head out to the barnyard, where you can feed the goats and watch them cross the 15 foot high skywalk. You’ll also spot turkeys, guineas, pheasants, and ducks outside of this rural general store.
Middlebrook General Store—Middlebrook
Middlebrook General Store was originally built in 1901, serving as a hub for the locals to get all their basic goods and supplies without having to travel far. Today, you may be able to use Interstate 81 to quickly reach much larger shops, but Middlebrook turned its focus to providing another hard-to-find quality: exceptional Virginia goods at reasonable prices. You can pick up bottles of wine from a local vineyard, tasty baked goods without all the preservatives, and cute home items that weren’t shipped from a huge warehouse in another country. Need these items as a gift? The friendly staff will arrange a thoughtful customized gift basket with the goods you pick out. The store serves up a hot breakfast and an array of lunch items to-go, or if the day is chillier, grab a table inside beside the market’s old-fashioned furnace.
Bluemont General Store—Bluemont
If you want farm fresh produce, like locally raised grass fed Angus beef and free range chicken and eggs, stop by Bluemont General Store in Loudoun County. They carry all sorts of creative goods and decorations, whether you are looking to add a few rural accents to your house or outfit your country style farmhouse. Pick up sandwiches for lunch, and don’t miss out on the homemade pies and hand dipped ice cream for dessert, which should be enjoyed on the picnic tables out front where you can take in the small town scenery and idyllic atmosphere.
Williamsburg General Store—Williamsburg
Although a little less genuine and a little more “touristy”, the Williamsburg General Store is still a fun stop for those that love classic old-fashioned markets. The random selection of knick-knacks and toys will keep kids entertained for hours, as the browse the aisles of wacky yet entertaining gifts. The exterior of the shop looks brand new, but the interior maintains an old timey feel, with exposed wood beams and hardwood floors. Snag a few souvenirs, local foods, clothing and gear, or even home goods and décor at the campy shop, and after perusing the selection, stick around in the evenings for live music performances put on by local musicians and bands.
Poor Farmer’s Market—Meadows of Dan
Poor Farmer’s Market began as a roadside vegetable stand, selling produce recently harvested from the fields just down the road. After a few years of resounding success, the owner decided to tansform an old gas station into her new business home, adding hundreds of additional products in the process. When you stop at Poor Farmer’s Market today, you can still purchase local produce, but you can also get items like fresh picked flowers, homemade baked goods, local honey, and homemade country store favorites like apple cider, jams, and jellies. They have a sandwich shop that serves up specialty subs and local favorites like pimento cheese and the rich sour cream pound cake. And of course your meal wouldn’t be complete without a cone of their hand dipped ice cream. After eating, pick up some souvenirs from the gift shop, such as their one-of-a-kind cast-iron wares.
Other Interesting Markets in Virginia to Visit:
- The General Store—Altavista
- Westmoreland Mercantile General Store—Montross
- Hill High’s Country Store—Round Hill
- Rap’s Orchard Gap Market & Deli—Fancy Gap
- Locke Modern Country Store—Millwood
- Country Food & Furniture—Powhatan
Take a trip to one of these old-fashioned Virginia general stores and travel back to a simpler, less hectic time, where the food is fresh and the goods are crafted with care locally. You have our list, now tell us your favorite old-time country store in Virginia!
© pkeppel for Virginia’s Travel Blog, 2016. |