by Kathy Johnson
A Crozet couple, Deborah Henshaw and Jeff Grosfeld, have opened their second furniture store, Ann Arden Home Furnishings, in downtown Waynesboro in the same building as their other store, Under the Roof.
The pair opened “Under the Roof,” in Charlottesville in 1994 and a few years ago closed that store. “We started looking for new space in Charlottesville,” said Henshaw, “but space there is very expensive and we wanted a larger showroom.” Strip malls, she said, were just “not a good fit.”
A friend suggested the former Leggett department store building in Waynesboro. “50,000 square feet and it had a really good feel to it,” she explained. Customers have traveled to the new store from Washington, DC, Lynchburg, Roanoke, Blacksburg and even Delaware, Henshaw said. “You can pay us a couple hundred dollars to deliver and still save a ton of money,” she said.
The store emphasizes American-made furnishings. “We visited an American Manufacturers Show and were just blown away by the craftsmanship and styles,” said Henshaw. “We found so many American manufacturers that could make customized furniture, with thousands of different fabrics and 35-day delivery. Solid wood manufacturers can make things that start with a drawing on a napkin,” she said with obvious enthusiasm. The new store carries pieces by furniture designers like Candice Olson, Natuzzi, and Frank Lloyd Wright.
“When we moved here, despite sharing space with a discount store [that has since moved] we were still offering high end merchandise and 22980 [Waynesboro] is still the big buyer. They want high quality merchandise. And Crozet people going to Target come by downtown for the unique shops only downtown can offer.”
“It’s great being here,” said Grosfeld. “It’s totally different from five years ago. I’m glad to be a part of the renaissance of Waynesboro.”
Seeing things the same way, Mariah Clark of Mariah’s Amine Couture, who grew up and still lives in Greenwood, opened her shop last year in downtown Waynesboro. “Waynesboro has a lot of people working to create a vibrant art district downtown,” Clark said. “I saw Waynesboro as an opportunity to get in at the beginning and help to bring about a creative and flourishing downtown district.”
On Wayne Avenue with Clark is the Brown Bag Express. Owners Wayne and Faith Ayers of Afton opened the very popular breakfast and lunch spot in May. “Wayne noticed there wasn’t any quick place besides Sam’s (hot dogs) for homemade fresh food.” Ayers said they are very happy with their decision. “I like it down here.”
On Main Street just across from Deb Henshaw and Jeff Grosfeld’s new store is the River City Art & Wine Emporium, a popular spot for local and regional shoppers. Co-owner Eileen O’Rourke, a northern Nelson County resident, said, “When I was working in downtown Waynesboro I got recruited to volunteer for Waynesboro Downtown Development, Inc., which opened all sorts of possibilities in my mind for downtown Waynesboro. I began to realize that one way I could feel like I was really making a difference would be to follow a dream of mine and open a shop downtown. So opening here has been two-fold, basically putting my money where my mouth is and showing folks that it is possible. If you build it, they will come.”
Under the Roof and Ann Arden Home Furnishings are located at 404 West Main in downtown Waynesboro. You may see familiar Crozet faces there, not just shopping, but as store owners and shop keepers.