Tag Archives: shop local

Meet Erica Snipes of Imagination Station!

When did you decide to start working for Imagination Station?
I needed a fun part-time job, and I have a twelve-year-old so we spent a lot of time in the toy store in Blacksburg. The owner put up a notice and said she was looking for help, so I decided that was a sign! Then, about half a year after I started working for them we decided we were going to move to Roanoke so my daughter could go to school here. The owner asked if I wanted to manage a toy store in Roanoke if they opened one. I thought about it, and a couple months later I said I would do it.

What is one important lesson that you’ve learned along the way as a manager?
Unlike some other retail businesses, you are growing up with the families and the kids. Establishing a relationship is really important. We are more than a place to come and shop. Upstairs we have a room that has toys, games, and books that we call our “chill out” room. You can just hang out; you don’t have to buy something. Go to Cups, grab a coffee, and bring your kids here.

With the technology we have available, why is this type of imaginative play still so important?
We are passionate about helping parents, caregivers, and teachers find ways to keep children engaged. With the advent of technology, it is so easy for all of us as caregivers to just hand over the cell phone or the iPad. There needs to be more tactile person-to-person play. For example, building blocks used to be the core of play. Everybody had building blocks, but people don’t really buy them anymore because they have so many pieces. They say their child doesn’t really know what to do with them. However, they need to be bored and build something because it helps with learning physics, gravity, and trial and error.

Find Imagination Station at www.imaginationstoys.com.

Giving Back: Craftsmen’s Classic

The Craftsmen’s Classic Show at the Berglund Center is the second largest food drive all year for Feeding America Southwest Virginia. The event will take place October 13-15, and offers free admission with a food donation. In years past, the event has brought in thousands of pounds of food for the area. Food banks like Feeding America Southwest Virginia are essential to our community. According to www.faswva.org, “The USDA estimates that 42.2 Americans lived in food insecure households, including 29.1 million adults and 13.1 million children.”

Without that knowledge, it is difficult to imagine that so many of your neighbors could be going hungry. This makes holding donations for admission to events like the Craftsmen’s Classic Show an integral part of helping meet the nutritional needs of families in Southwest Virginia.

In addition to helping out local families, this is a great opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping and support artisans at a time of year when every penny counts for small businesses. Nine Craftsmen’s Classics are held annually and throughout the year in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Gilmore Enterprises, Inc. takes producing each event seriously. Every show contains a careful balance of traditional and contemporary works. Ultimately, hundreds of artists and craftsmen from over 20 states are featured. They are juried and selected for originality and creative excellence.

Because these qualities are so important, there is something for everyone at this event. Enjoy new exhibitors and familiar favorites as you browse pottery, fine art, glass, jewelry, baskets, weaving, clothing, furniture, sculpture, photography, wood, and more! The event will also include specialty foods. All items are made by the participating artists and craftsmen. You won’t find any of these items in the “big box” retail stores. Many exhibitors even welcome requests for custom work, allowing them to explore their creativity to create a personalized gift for you or your loved one. Between collectibles, home accessories, and personal treasures for all ages, you have an opportunity to find something for everyone on your list!

Visit www.craftshow.com for more information on this event! We look forward to seeing you there!

Support the Arts in October!

We love all of the local talent showcased this month! Check out a couple of our favorite events below, and share your photos at those events with us on Facebook!

The Blue Ridge Potters Guild Show and Sale at Patrick Henry High School will open at 6:30pm on Friday, October 13. The show will continue through the weekend, allowing those in attendance to enjoy refreshments as they peruse the potters’ latest works and shop for holiday gifts at more than 50 booths. The largest all-pottery show in Virginia will be open Saturday from 10am to 6pm and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm. Demonstrations for adults and kids will be held throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. A favorite feature for both participants and customers is the Gallery. This year’s theme is “The Garden.” The Gallery is open to all Guild members to enter a piece based upon their interpretation of the theme. A wide range of work will be available at this event as more than 70 Blue Ridge Pottery Guild members are expected to participate! Visit www.blueridgepotters.com for more information.

The 42nd season of Opera Roanoke opens with a new production of Tosca on October 27 at 7:30pm and October 29 at 3pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center. The show features a cast of Opera Roanoke returning favorites including Dinyar Vania (La Traviata ’16), Thomas Cannon (Madama Butterfly ’11), and Emily Johnson (Falstaff ’08). This Puccini selection is riveting and perfect for Halloween weekend. When romance and politics mix, the result is a thrilling melodrama focused on the haunting aftermath of jealousy, sabotage, and betrayal. To purchase tickets, visit www.operaroanoke.org.

Art by Sharell

Sharell Whipple graduated in 2010 with a degree in animal biology. Soon after, she began a petsitting business.

“I took really nice photos of the pets and left them for the owners to find when they came back. One day, I took one of the photos, painted it, and gave it to the family as a Christmas gift,” Sharell recalls. “That was the first time I experimented with painting, and I fell in love with it.”

After her first piece was complete, Sharell continued painting pets, and eventually expanded into nature scenes, keeping her vibrant, colorful feel.

“I think painting on wood adds that extra element of nature. Also, a lot of the wood I paint on is extra smooth and sanded. It doesn’t have that texture that canvas has, so I can blend differently on wood,” she explains.

Many of Sharell’s nature pieces are influenced by her adventures with her husband. One of her early works was a Blue Ridge Mountain scene. At the time, she was living in California. She painted the landscape with acrylic paint, and added the quotation from John Muir, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” It’s the one piece that she has never sold because she loves it so much, and it now hangs on her bedroom wall.

Sharell can often be found creating art in the bay window her red brick home surrounded by a quiet neighborhood in those same Blue Ridge Mountains she painted just a few years ago. There, she can see deer walking through her front yard. She can hear the creek trickling right outside her window. It provides a connection to nature that translates gracefully into her art. However, sometimes she needs to step outside her peaceful home to spark creativity.

“I feel most inspired to create pieces when I’m away from my studio. When I’m out backpacking in the middle of nowhere and it’s quiet, the fireflies are glowing, and the total tranquility of beautiful sunsets surrounds me. I’ll go back to my studio, and I may not paint the sunset, but I’ll use the colors to paint a completely different subject matter,” she says.

You can find Sharell’s work at The Big Latch on Roanoke at Roanoke College on August 5, Riot Rooster on November 17-18, and locally at Kozy Comfort Kountry Store in Hardy. If you can’t make it to any of these locations, please check out her work on her website, www.artbysharell.com.

FloydFest 2017: Freedom

Where will you find your freedom on the mountain?

Will it be somewhere between the nine stages? 
A “natural amphitheater,” Streamline Stage at Hill Holler is a place to bring a blanket, lay back and relax while you take in the music. Or, dance with friends (or even by yourself!) to your favorite bands. Take in the Speakeasy Stage: an amazing covered dance space that has featured everything from the festive nature of musical performance to sword swallowing and burlesque dancing.
Of course, if quiet is what you need, seek out the Healing Arts Village for body-mind balance. Visit the Workshop Porch, hosted by Ferrum College, a space that transports audiences to the front porch music jam sessions of earlier times while artists share their music and stories to accompany it.
Take the kids to the Forever Young Stage where they can enjoy open mic sessions, Taekwondo classes, and tetherball matches, all in the main field area. FloydFest, as you may already know, is famous for the fun it offers for the entire family. Parents can enjoy the show on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage while the youngsters explore their own creativity.
And, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the Pink Floyd Garden Stage. This serene location is surrounded by trees, picnic tables, and craft beer vendors. It is the perfect place to meet new friends and spot old ones throughout the day. You don’t want to miss it at night, as it transforms under the aura of brightly colored lights to a brilliantly funky stage.
The VIP Pub Stage is for those with a backstage pass only, but Bella girls it is well worth it! Complimentary beverages, a comfortable lounge tent, and memorable performances await.

Will it be on an adventure with your FloydFest family?
FloydFest has multiple opportunities for outdoor adventure. They even have a tent dedicated to it! Sign up for one of their On the Water in Floyd Float Trips (Thursday-Sunday), the Parkway Brewing Company 5K Trail Running Race, or a guided hike. You can also join the Belcher Mountain Beatdown, a guided FloydFest 19-mile mountain bike journey (just make sure to bring your own bike and helmet!). In addition, there will be an Innova Disc Golf Tournament on Saturday! The mountain bike journey and float trips are catered, and include a small fee. Entering the 5K race, walking the Moonstomper Hiking Trail on your own, or joining a guided hike are free for FloydFest attendees.

Will it be in the performance of your new (or old) favorite artist?
Rebekah Todd & the Odyssey take the stage on Wednesday, along with talented musicians that will help you celebrate your first night on the mountain. On Thursday, enjoy Thievery Corporation, and honor artists of all ages with Girls Rock Roanoke. Friday welcomes Michael Frantz & Spearhead, Leftover Salmon, and Steel Pulse. On Saturday, Rising Appalachia (featured in this issue!) and St. Paul & the Broken Bones perform. Sunday, round out the weekend with Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, the TSisters, and HoneyHoney. These big names are just a few of our favorites, but there is a long list available on the FloydFest website. You will be surrounded with music all weekend—and really, there is no better way to enjoy the summer.

Visit www.floydfest.com for a complete lineup, list of activities and workshops, and to purchase your tickets! Don’t forget to bring donations for Floyd’s Plenty! Food Bank. Every two nonperishable items or one jar of peanut butter donated is an entry to win a FloydFest prize pack which includes a free 5-day ticket to FloydFest 2018. We’ll see you there!

Meet The Pie Lady

In late 2015, Cindy Bailey became an empty nester. Her daughter was a student at Virginia Tech, and her son would soon be leaving for West Virginia. As the reality of these changes began to set in, Cindy looked around her family’s home and thought it might be time to make a few changes of her own.

“I was a stay-at-home mom and worked part-time across the street at Ikenberry Autumn Adventure. My friend, who works at Ikenberry, told me that The Pie Lady was selling her business. She encouraged me to buy it,” Cindy recalls.

Cindy and her husband met with the original owner of The Pie Lady, Lisa. They decided that a business out of their home was ideal and convenient. In the fall of 2015, they began transforming their family room, initially a garage with a beautiful fireplace, into The Pie Lady kitchen. Perhaps it is the lingering family atmosphere, or the fact that Cindy and her husband live in the house adjacent to the kitchen, but it is reminiscent of a simpler time when families gathered around stovetops to share recipes and secrets. The large, open space is welcoming from the moment you walk through the door.

Although Cindy enjoys the cooking aspect of The Pie Lady, her passion is in the marketing of the product. Selling the pies gives her an opportunity to connect with her customers. As Cindy explains, people don’t feel guilty about spending money on food. Not only is it something they will use and enjoy, it often encourages their family to gather around a table together—free from the distractions of daily life.

Of course, The Pie Lady’s pies are different than the ones you will find boxed up in the freezer section of your grocery store. While they are convenient to prepare, they are also homemade. Cindy’s friend, Debbie, is her kitchen manager. Together, they work hard to produce quality products made from scratch.

“They are not the American Chicken Pot Pie,” Cindy explains. “They are a meat pie, like the French variety. It is more meat-based than gravy-based. The chicken is shredded. It is kind of like a quiche.”

There are nine varieties of dinner pies including Just Chicken, Buffalo Chicken, Chicken Fajita, Chicken and Vegetables, and Chicken Cordon Bleu. Customers can also purchase a Chocolate Pecan dessert pie.

You can find Cindy at events throughout the area, and her pies may soon be in some of your favorite local stores.

“Ikenberry’s wants to carry them, and so does Heritage Family Market. We have locations in Lexington and Radford that want to carry them too. We just have to be able to keep up with the supply,” she says.

That said, they are open to wholesale and fundraising opportunities. If you are interested in purchasing a pie for your family, or simply want to learn more about The Pie Lady, check out their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/thepieladychickenpies.

 

 

Meet Maker: Tinker Creek Handknits

Photo by Amanda Malone at Amanda Kelly Photos

Lisa Uotinen, of Daleville, Virginia, began knitting right after she graduated from college in 1993. Back then, she was working full time at Colonial Williamsburg and needed something to do on breaks between shows. There were no classes available then, so she learned by watching people around her and from books. She took a break when her children were born, but picked the hobby back up almost a decade ago.

As her talent developed, she decided to sell the items that she was making. In April of 2016, she opened her business, Tinker Creek Handknits. Most of her yarn comes from Cascade Yarns and is ecologically-friendly, made from natural fibers and minimally-processed wool that hasn’t been dyed using chemicals.

Photo Dec 08“When you buy minimally-processed wool, some people really do fare better when they have it on their skin because there are no chemicals or dyes. You are also choosing to support a sustainable industry in an environmentally-friendly way,” says Lisa.

Of course, wool itself is a sustainable industry. It is one that has proven to be useful for centuries. Lisa harbors no ill will against yarns that are processed, because the sale of that wool also helps the farmers who raise the sheep that provided it.

“People are becoming more aware of the impact they have on the environment. This is just one way that I can choose to support an ecologically-friendly industry. There are people who have made chemically processed yarn, and there is nothing wrong with that. Whenever you are using wool, you are supporting a sustainable industry,” she explains.

Tinker Creek Handknits is operated out of Lisa’s home, where she also raises three young daughters. All three know how to knit, but it is something they have pushed to the back burner as they have grown older. Instead, they help Lisa in other ways—like modeling her creations and giving their opinions on what will and will not sell.

“Their sense of style is usually right on point,” she says. “If they don’t like or wouldn’t wear something I make, chances are that it isn’t going to sell. They are teenagers, so they are on trend and know what will look right for people their age.”

Instead of buying your knitted items from big box stores this winter, make sure that you are supporting small businesses like Lisa’s. Not only are you putting money back into your community, you are also creating a relationship that will allow you to own unique and personable items. Lisa is happy to create custom lengths and knit with requested colors for her customers. That, of course, is the difference between something that you can specifically request and something that is mass produced.

Lisa will be unveiling new products and styles in early 2017! Follow her on Instagram (tinkercreekhandknits) or visit her website, www.tinkercreekhandknits.com to stay up to date on the latest products and to purchase something new for your winter wardrobe!

Shop Local in 2017!

We talk about giving back to our community a lot in Bella, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to shop local. The holidays are behind us, and too often at this critical time of year we fall into the slump of making purchases that are convenient at stores where items are on sale. That habit, though all too common, hurts both small businesses and the consumer.

With a simple swipe of your card, you are making a decision. It’s the old adage “quality versus quantity.” You aren’t going to find the same quality items at department stores that you will with local business owners. So, here are some simple ways you can change your habits for the benefit of the community this year:

Buy a new rug. When cold weather comes, we find ourselves redecorating the interior of our homes. One small change can mean a lot for a room. Start by finding the perfect rug at Oriental Rugs Gallery. You can count on your investment lasting for years, and it may be just what you need to enjoy all of the seasons to come.

Try new ingredients. You’ve found some great recipes to start of the new year, but you have no idea where to begin with the oils you need to purchase. Oliveto can help! Their oils are great for bread dipping, salad dressing, as a marinade, in place of butter or vegetable oil, and more! They also have balsamic vinegars that are perfect drizzled over fruit (and the occasional pastry!).

shop_localFind the perfect outfit. It’s never too early to get ready for Valentine’s Day. If you’re already searching for the right dress, Punch Boutique has you covered. (P.S. Ladies, you’ll never go wrong with blue—it stands out in a sea of red!) Pair your gorgeous outfit with a pair of boots or dress shoes from Yarid’s. Anyone who has ever purchased accessories from this amazing store knows that they are quality statement pieces that last for years.

Finally, don’t forget to stop at Chocolate Paper! Whether you’re going for a small, unique gift to give a friend, that planner you forgot to buy before the New Year, or a little chocolate reward for yourself—this is the place to find what is perfect for you!

Most importantly, don’t let the New Year and after Christmas sales at department stores trick you. They only exist to clutter our homes with things we don’t need. Shop with a purpose where your money does the most good for both you and your neighbors!

Oriental Rug Gallery
5999 Franklin Road
Roanoke, VA 24014
540-776-2808

Punch Boutique
3117 Franklin Road SW #6
Roanoke, VA 24014
540-904-6743

Yarid’s Shoes
4714 Starkey Road
Roanoke, VA 24018
540-266-7750

Oliveto
3565 Electric Road
Roanoke, VA 24018

Chocolate Paper
308 Market St. SE #3
Roanoke, VA 24011