Rockfish Valley Community Center: Businesses Thrive in Unique Rural Setting
Where schoolchildren once bent over pre-World War II history lessons, an eclectic collection of retail shops, artists and unique services benefits the people of Nelson County and their neighbors.
The Rockfish Valley Community Center, named after the river valley and the former elementary school and located 8.6 miles down Route 151 from Route 250, enjoys enthusiastic support from the county’s diverse neighborhoods.
“We’re fully rented and now have a waiting list,” said Stu Mills, the center’s executive director. Former classrooms, cloakrooms and halls, as well as the auditorium that served 1930s families, now house more than a dozen small businesses. One notable former tenant, Ula Tortilla, had its start there. “We’re proud of our role as an incubator for them,” Mills said of the homegrown organic corn tortilla business that started there, outgrew its space, and now has a national clientele.
Mills, a businessman most recently known for the award-winning former Bistro 151, is joined in the Center’s administration by Sara Taylor, founder of Rapunzel’s in Lovingston. In the two-plus years since they’ve been working together, they’ve watched the growth of the business community at the center, and sought and received healthy community support for a number of energy-saving repairs and improvements to the building and grounds. Besides the businesses listed below, the center is home to non-profits and creative artists and service providers. For a full listing, go to rock fishcc.org.
Rockfish River Gallery of Fine Arts and Exquisite Crafts
Dozens of artists and craftspeople, Nelson County neighbors of Kathy Bonham, display and sell their work at the gallery, which lives up to its name, thanks to careful curation by Bonham, a former Denver attorney who found a new home and life’s work in rural Virginia. The Gallery is open Wednesday through Saturday, from 7 to 6. Visit www.rock fishrivergallery.com.
Claudia Gibson Catering
Gibson is familiar to many from farmers markets and catered special events and has a permanent home at Claudia’s Cafe, with breakfast until 11:30 and lunch until 3, Wednesday through Friday; 9 to 1 Saturday. Claudia’s Cafe is known for baked goods and fresh salads and lunches, mostly from local ingredients, as well as frozen entrees and soups to go.
Veteran nurse Elizabeth Martin has worked in the most intense medical settings, including emergency rooms and intensive care units. For the past 20 years she’s also been practicing–– and later teaching––Zero Balance, a touch therapy focusing on the core level of bone structure for health, balance and stress and pain relief. For an appointment, call 434-426-4578.
Trager Brothers Coffee
Starting small and now supplying coffee for their own and other area coffee shops, the Trager Brothers have maintained their commitment to environmentally sound, fairly priced organic coffee. Their popular shop at the Community Center has outside seating and an adjacent quiet studio for serious workers. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 9 to 4.
Virginia Rock Shop
There’s a wide-ranging, colorful display of rocks, fossils, minerals, crystals and other oddities in the shop, along with jewelry from estates and collections or made by the shop’s owner, David Lipscomb, who also repairs jewelry and replaces tiny batteries. Or make your own jewelry with hand cut and polished stones. The shop is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 to 5, and Sunday, 12 to 5.
As the world accumulates its creative work and has multiple ways to present and preserve it, the question is how. Peter Agelasto and Richard Averitt run a company that answered that question for Bob Dylan, among others. In a world where art changes from audio to visual, static to fluid, creative software can make sense of all the pieces: digitalrelab.com.
Full Circle Salon
This full-service salon, owned by veteran cosmetologist Tammy Huffman, specializes in foils, hair coloring, permanents, styling, haircuts and facial waxing in a spacious, light-filled suite. Huffman brings more than 20 years of cosmetology experience to her work with Nelson County patrons. Full Circle is open by appointment, 434-529-7180.
The Treasure Chest
Since it opened in 2001, the Treasure Chest thrift store has supported RVCC, last year to the tune of $80,000, with unused items going to county charities. Reorganized under manager Kat Walsh, it has a neatly categorized book store, a kitchen essentials room and organized displays and racks of clothing. Open 10 to 4 Tuesday through Friday, 9 to 3 Saturday.
Old Orchard Farm
Every part of the old school and grounds is put to use by the community, and that includes the former concession stand. The Buteau family of Shipman operates a year round farm market there, selling seasonal products, including their own farm-raised eggs and meat. There are often baked goods, especially during the holidays. Wednesday, 9:30 to 12; Saturday, 9 to 12.
New Health Consulting
Chris Lowthert offers the services of a highly trained chiropractor, but that’s only one of the many healing modalities he’s studied and now passes on to his clients. He’s qualified to practice and teach German New Medicine, a system that examines the relationship between trauma and disease; and other holistic healing arts. For appointments, call 540-256-0026.
Haynes Law Group Moves to Clover Lawn
A few months ago, Jeffrey and Adriana Haynes moved to their present space between the Tea House and Otto’s at the Shoppes of Clover Lawn. In the tradition of small-town, store-front attorneys everywhere, the practice, assisted by Maria Zapatero and Helida Beck, offers a wide range of legal services, including criminal, family law, personal injury, federal drug cases, estate planning and corporate law. Although the main focus is on serving the everyday needs of the neighborhoods around him, The Haynes Law Group has experience and contacts from Tidewater to Northern Virginia.
It’s against the current trend of growing specialization, Jeffrey Haynes said, but he’s never been happier than he is now, providing representation and guidance to people from every walk of life. He grew up in the Valley and came to Charlottesville for school. The couple is familiar to many in Virginia’s Spanish-speaking community for the volunteer work that Jeffrey and Adriana have done for a group they co-founded, Without Barriers, a local non-profit that serves the immigrant population and helps them to integrate into the general community.
One of their goals is to present a welcoming image, with colorful photos by Helida’s husband, Nathan, on the walls and a bilingual staff. The family has lived in Crozet since 2011, but the former office was in an out-of-the-way spot on Rte. 240. The new location is more visible and has even drawn some drop-in traffic, although “they were mostly curious,” Jeffrey said. Adriana said they welcome walk-ins, curious or not, or calls, at 434-220-6088.
University Tires, a full-service auto repair shop, is now open at the former site of the Community Garage at the corner of Jarman’s Gap Road and Crozet Avenue.
Rudy’s Dry Cleaners is now at the Clover Lawn shopping center between Dominoes pizza and the ABC store.
Waynesboro’s Blue Oregano Catering will open a retail bakery next to its current Main Street shop in September, with artisan breads, pastries, pies and quiche.