The concept of a store specializing in olive oils, high end vinegars and out-of the-ordinary spices is just right for downtown Culpeper, a district that has earned a reputation among epicures. Fine dining and quality provisions from merchants and a popular farmers’ market has made Davis Street a destination. However, that reputation alone may not have been enough to lure Taste Oil Vinegar Spice.
George Farrar and Jan Davis, the emerging entrepreneurs behind the retail store and tasting room also considersed Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Warrenton and several other small towns, as reported at Fredericksburg.com (Ditching a commute, adding some flavor).
Fredericksburg had a lot of appeal for us, but it was an additional 30 miles,” Farrar said. “One of the goals was to cut down on commutes. Warrenton would have been a little closer, but we couldn’t find a storefront that was small enough for us.”
A 1,200-square-foot space was available in Culpeper, and sizewise, it was a great fit for this business. At a time when large-inventory department stores demand extremely large spaces at the edge of town, many downtowns are well positioned for smaller footprint specialty stores. Additonally, it is clear that the active work that Culpeper Renaissance, Inc. has done over the years resulted in an atmosphere that is attracting businesses, keeping the storefronts filled and providing destination shopping that no big box can match.
This big-picture, hands-on perspective is one presented by National Trust Main Street Center Business Development Consultant Todd Barman, who has spent time recently helping Bristol, Radford, Luray, Blackstone and Altavista establish strategies. Altavista has pursued a community strategy to offer small, manageable spaces for emerging entrepreneurs in a larger vacant building by creating Altavista Arts and Antiques.