The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Owner wants to create old-fashioned business|
Staff Photo by Charles Boothe:
Becky Miller has opened the Union Hall General Store in the former Smith Mountain Building Supply building.
Monday, September 2, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
Becky Miller wasn't sure what she was going to do after she retired, selling her successful hair replacement and salon business in Pennsylvania and considering options.
She and partner Todd Locker had bought a place that could accommodate their horses in Franklin County after selling their farm on the Maryland side of the Mason-Dixon line.
But they were still not sure where they would eventually settle down for good after Locker retired from his job.
That uncertainty has now been laid to rest.
Miller has embarked on an unexpected post-retirement adventure -- opening a general store.
Miller now owns the Union Hall General Store, which was formerly a home to recently-closed Smith Mountain Building Supply.
"Everything moved quickly," Miller said. "Once I got down here, I knew I didn't want to 'do nothing.' I'm not a do-nothing person."
After examining options and what may be needed in the Union Hall and South Lake area, the idea of a general store appealed to her.
"This is something we can do," she said. "It's something that we would enjoy," adding that she loves gardening and the outdoors, and Locker loves hunting and fishing.
Both also love people.
Miller said she liked the idea of an old-fashioned general store, where people can visit and get just about anything they need.
And that is what she, with Locker's help, is creating -- a place where almost anything, from core groceries to hunting and fishing supplies to hardware, will be available.
In fact, when all facets of the store are open sometime next year, that "almost anything" will cover the entire 27,000 square feet of the facility.
"We will be doing this in phases," said Locker, who has just recently been to Boston to wrap up contracts to sell Husqvarna and Stihl products.
The main part of the store, which features basic groceries and hunting and fishing supplies, opened Friday for a "soft opening," and a larger grand opening will be scheduled soon.
Locker said other sections of the store include Dickies hunting and work clothing, boots, Old Town kayaks, hardware (electrical-plumbing) supplies and small appliances. A small-appliance and machinery repair shop will be included at some point, he added.
Other future additions include a beer barn, a large wine shop and a Southern States seed and supplement warehouse.
Miller said she is also partnering with some local businesses to offer their products, including Homestead Creamery and Willow Tree Nursery.
A seasonal farmers' market under a covered area behind the store is also included in plans for the store.
Miller said the general store will not have "convenience store" prices, as items will be priced competitively with grocery stores.
She also wants customers to give her feedback.
"We want people to tell us what they want," she said. "We want to provide them as much as possible. That's what a general store does."
Miller said the venture has moved fast, in part because of the hospitality of local residents.
"People here are so easy to meet and talk with," she said. "They are happy and hospitable. They are really amazing. That is completely different from the North."
And she said she wants her general store to be different as well, reflecting the hospitable nature of the people here.