- Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 15:04
- Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 10:40
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Lawyer Diane Lank and businessman Don Hess, residents of Glebe Harbor, were quick to notice one problem when they returned to Westmoreland County after 16 years: residents from Nomini Bay and Cole’s Point had to drive as far as 15 miles to buy gas and groceries.
To solve the problem, this month Diane and Don opened a new country store on Erica Rd. at a location that previously had been the site of two closed small stores, Bud-Dees and Marie’s Corner Store.
Residents have long made humorous references about the limited shopping in the area along the Potomac River. In a good natured reference to that situation, Diane and Don have named their new store and gas station Erica Mall.
“We are getting a lot of comments of thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Hess. “People are elated in no longer having to drive 20 minutes to the Food Lion when all they need is a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, or some macaroni noodles. Having a well-stocked store nearby is handy, and we really are a convenient store.”
Erica Mall opened its doors for the first time on July 2. “We began with a baptism by fire during a busy Fourth of July weekend and then settled into a busy and fun summer routine,” Hess said. A grand opening is planned for Sunday, Aug. 18.
The modern, colorful and neat country store offers all of the usual needed items including beer, gas, milk, bread and lottery tickets. It also sells general groceries, ice cream, live bait and hot coffee. “Our signature Pura Vida fair trade coffee compares favorably to brand name coffeehouse brews and we have brewed-fresh-daily iced tea, sweet and unsweet,” said Hess.
Hess said he and Lank are working with local artisans to provide displays of their works. “Not many small stores in the Northern Neck or elsewhere, for that matter, can lay claim to having artwork from a local artist and bloodworms for anglers - within a foot or two of each other!”
“We couldn’t be happier with our first few weeks,” Hess said. “Our customers have expressed how excited they are to have a neighborhood store back in the area, have been so very nice to us, so complimentary, and so supportive.”
“People are quite complimentary of the design of the building, its welcoming red metal roof and yellow siding, its spacious, solid interior,” Hess said.
“We’ve also received lots of kind comments about our efforts to source products people have requested. So far, we have two pages of products that we’re now stocking that we didn’t have on day 1 - from graham crackers and marshmallows - for s’mores - to mousetraps.”
“It really isn’t just our store, it is a community store. It already feels like people from miles around are taking pride in ownership of Erica Mall, and are helping us to find our way,” Hess said. He said he and Lank have a vision of being “happy running a store where people are happy to shop.”
“To a large extent, we have accomplished that already. We knew from the first days of planning that we would never get rich from running a small country store, that the hours would be long, and that there would be frustrations along the way,” Hess said.
“What we wanted in the end was to be able to provide something nice for the people of the Northern Neck, to be proud of our store, our employees and our products, and to have fun doing it all. That’s a lot to ask, but we think we’re on the right track.”