Sep 28 2014
On Friday I explored Fredericksburg’s downtown district. (From 11:00-11:50am 9/26/14) It was a beautiful day, sunny and in the 70s. The downtown area is located in the local historical district, and all of the shops conform to similar standards: all are brick and mortar stores with glass fronts and window displays; most are narrow shops which are similar in size but vary greatly according to use. The vast majority of consumers and employees downtown travel by foot or motor vehicle, however some also use bicycles or arrive on the train. Many of the goods sold are mass produced and are delivered by truck, while local, individual producers can make deliveries in person. While I walked around, I went by East Coast Vapers, the Visitors’ Center, The Toy Store, Jabberwocky, Picker’s Supply, Lord & Lilly’s, Fraser Wood Elements.
My personal connection with the downtown area is as old as I am. I have lived, worked, played, and shopped there most of my life. The pace of the street was slow when I arrived at 11:00 and parking was plentiful. I parked by Sammy T’s and walked down to East Coast Vapers. I started there because it’s on the far end of Caroline Street. I’m not really that interested in vaping per se, but my husband and I are trying to quit smoking and I know several people who have been successful using a personal vaporizer. East Coast Vapers not only sells the various devices and everything that goes with them, but they offer a bar service as well. Customers can sit at a counter and try different flavors from a menu. I arrived just after 11:00am but the store was not open, even though the Friday hours said they opened at 11:00. As I was walking away someone came out and told me that they would open in an hour. I didn’t go back but I still might. I have no idea why they weren’t open, but I believe a lot of downtown retailers hold unusual hours in spite of the expensive rent because they don’t get a lot of business at certain times.
From there I walked down to Jabberwocky. On my way, I stopped at the bench outside the Visitor’s Center to start my notes and I chatted with a tourist who was waiting on a carriage ride. He and his wife were visiting Fredericksburg with friends for the second time. After our chat I continued toward Jabberwocky. I wound up walking right past it at first because The Toy Store next door had an eye catching display of children’s costumes on a sidewalk rack. I have shopped at The Toy Store for my kids before, but I didn’t go in on Friday. I looked at their costumes which were very cute, but mostly for girls. So I went into Jabberwocky, which is my all-time favorite children’s bookstore. I got to speak with Mona Albertine, one of the owners. She recommended some books for my younger son who doesn’t really like to read, and showed me the collections she carries that my older son loves, like Tintin and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. She also offered to answer any questions I had about marketing and so forth. They have a huge word of mouth following and occasional book signings. Mrs. Albertine and the other ladies who work at Jabberwocky have always been extremely kind and helpful. They are great at recommending fun new books for all ages and levels, and will order any they don’t have in stock. They carry, and more or less divide the store, by books, toys, games, and activity sets like art or science kits. There was one other shopper at the time I was in there, quietly browsing. It is a quiet, clean, bright environment with eye catching toys and books displayed everywhere.
When I left Jabberwocky, I ran into Professor Moon and we walked down the street another block, where we passed a guy waking around in a dingy, half-open bathrobe, accompanied by an equally disheveled lady friend. They were very friendly to us and said what I think amounted to a greeting.
Next I went into Picker’s Supply. Picker’s sells instruments, accessories, services, and lessons. They also buy and sell used instruments. They have been around a long time and have a large local customer base including a lot of musicians who play professionally. I took guitar lessons there when I was ten, and I know some of the current music teachers. The place was empty except for me. I think my younger son has a gift for music, and although he has several instruments to fiddle around with, I would love to get him some formal lessons. So I talked to the guy at the counter and got their rates and a list of the teachers and instruments they specialize in.
When I left, I went next door for the heck of it, into a store that I would not have thought to enter otherwise. It was called Lord & Lilly’s (& Sandy’s Frugals and Frillys). It is a Christian arts and crafts and collectibles store. It smelled wonderful and was very cluttered but very clean. Her merchandise included various collectible items that I’m not sure I could name, candles, faux flowers, and scrapbooking supplies. The owner was present with her dog (Sandy – whose image was also on the sign) and she was personally tending to another customer, showing her around the store. They were both friendly to me but I tried not to interrupt them. It was a quaint, intimate, and very aromatic environment.
By the time I got back to my car, it was noon and the lunch time traffic had arrived in the streets and restaurants.
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