Sep 29 2014
For the first field work post, I headed into downtown Fredericksburg to explore the various shops and restaurants. On Friday, the 26th, I biked down at around 11:00 am and stayed there until around noon. The store that I spent the most time in was the Olde Towne Butcher, a butcher and deli shop that offers a wide variety of locally produced goods. A UMW student named Michelle was working there and graciously answered any questions I had about the store.
The Olde Towne Butcher is locally owned by a couple named Lee and Linda Russell and opened around 5 years ago. Many goods are supplied personally by the supplier, which is quite unique. For example, Michelle told me that a young woman delivered a shipment of Cardinal Chocolates from Alexandria (which is still considered local because it less than two hours away). Similarly, a cop living in Spotsylvania founded a company called Sweet & Sassy BBQ— he brings in his products personally as well. The only products that are delivered by truck are the two national ‘corporates’ they stock: Arnold bread products and Boorshead deli meat and cheese.
The Olde Towne Butcher is not a chain. Its retail space expanded recently and includes public restrooms. Outside, there is a bike rack for customers and a small parking lot with three spots. I asked Michelle about transportation and she told me that most of the customers live in downtown Fredericksburg and prefer to walk or bike to the Butcher. A select few drive; they have the option of parking on William St. or the small parking lot behind the shop. Michelle said that many customers are regulars that will come in a few times a day– they’ll come in around noon to buy lunch and then later that day to buy food for dinner.
Produce is delivered from local farms, such as Snead’s Farm, while dairy products originate from Trickling Springs, Pennsylvania. Meat is acquired from local cow farmers, such as the Silver Rich Farm. The Olde Towne Butcher is especially busy around lunch and dinner time and normally has 1-2 people working the register, 1-3 people serving meats, one person in the deli and five butchers. The customer base is loyal and very friendly.
After visiting the Olde Towne Butcher, where I spent most of my time, I kept walking around the downtown area. I eventually backtracked and passed a small German cuisine restaurant called Deutschland Downtown. As a fluent German speaker and half-German, I couldn’t pass up checking it out. The address is 411 William St. Deutschland Downtown’s menu made my mouth water, as it truly is authentic German food. You can enjoy an appetizer such as a Bavarian Puff or a garden salad, and choose from a variety of ‘Hauptspeisen’, like Curry-Wurst, Schnitzel, Cheesy Spatzle and Bratwurst. Deutschland Downtown also has an ‘Imbiss’ option, which is a food cart that can be found downtown! Like the Olde Towne Butcher, goods are bought from local farmers and markets.
What I noticed about downtown Fredericksburg’s shopping climate is that it much more resembles a European than the stereotypical American one. It’s not a strip mall, meaning there isn’t virtually unlimited parking. While there are options to park if you so desired, it definitely is more difficult. Most consumers seem to live very close by and are happy to walk or bike to buy whatever they need. As a result, there are less people out and about during rain or adverse weather. I really like the aesthetics of downtown Fredericksburg. The many nice restaurants and the old fashioned shops give it a very beautiful touch.
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