As we see 2016 come to an end, there is so much to be grateful for here at Valley Pike. Starting a new business has plenty of ups and downs but the support we’ve seen since the business opened is amazing. If you asked the Gardners (our owners) last December where they thought the Market would be in a year, I suspect they would have both looked at each other and responded “hopefully open - with customers!” Well, we’re open and in awe of the changes that 2016 held for this old barn!
January through May 2016 saw lots of nails, hammers, and hard work to get this timeworn barn back in shape. Restoring a 125-year-old barn, that hadn’t seen much love in the past 30 years, wasn’t a small task. During that time, our owner David brought Brian on staff who would help turn the Market into the store you see today. With years of experience in the industry, he knew all the right people and companies to help Valley Pike’s dream of being a resource for Virginia farmers and their products become a reality. He also decided to bring on a Marketing & Events staff member (yours truly) to constantly request and dream up new events and festivals for a building that wasn’t even finished when I began brainstorming!
June was the month the barn was finished and beautiful, if I do say so myself! Plenty of work was still going on inside the building to get items ready for food, coffee, and client visits but the bones and core of this barn were complete! Community members constantly drove into the parking lot to peer into the windows for a glimpse at what this new attraction might be. All the while we thought to ourselves, “don’t try and come in, it’s a liability, but please come back when we open!”
“Can we open now? If not now, when?” was the repeating question at each and every weekly staff meeting in July (and those questions came from me). The constant reminder that the Market was so close to being ready but we still needed workers hired, time to place orders, and actual products to sell, so we just weren’t there yet. However, the Granary, our event venue, was finished and picture ready… ready enough in the minds of Sidney Gardner, owner of Sidney Leigh Photography, and myself. A mock wedding shoot was the perfect opportunity to highlight the repurposed downstairs that had at one time held livestock but would now hold lively events, music, dancing, and weddings. Sidney collaborated with local vendors and friends to make our blank canvas come to life and picturesque for any couple. The photo shoot couldn’t have been more of a dream come true… even with a surprise proposal from our mock groom to his bride, who will be getting married here in the Granary June 2017!
We also had our parking lot buddy, the Valley Pike BBQ truck, open a new option, The Old School Burger Bus. Considering our own food options weren’t ready yet, our staff can vouch for both trucks and a majority of the menu options at each… take our word for it, if you haven’t eaten at one or the other you need to as soon as possible!
August, oh August! You were a blur of cardboard packages being opened and stocked, late nights from our managers, and prayers that the doors could open successfully for business. Our Preview Night for the community members and partners that helped us create this beautiful space was held August 4, 2016. Our chance to thank the people who refurbished the building, helped complete our paperwork, and supported this project from its beginning as just as a vision to real-life local business. Preview Night marked the final push to get everything ready before our soft opening to the public on Monday, August 22, 2016. We had two weeks from Preview Night to make sure when the doors opened the products were not only here but people could actually buy them! We thought we would open quietly and hopefully ease our staff into the Market’s opening with a Grand Opening Weekend in September… boy, were we wrong! You came out in droves and your support was incredible. Whether it was driven by curiosity, support for the Gardners who had put so much passion and love into this project, or just plain happiness that there was something in Weyers Cave… you came!
By the time our Grand Opening was here on Labor Day Weekend, we were off and running! On September 3rd, the Rumor Mill Coffee Company opened at 6:00am with the rest of the Farm Market open at 8:00am to the public. Community members were able to enjoy tours of the building, door prizes, specials, and live music from Little Walter and the Convictions from 7pm until 9pm, to end a full, fun-filled day. September 4th you pulled up a lawn chairs on a beautiful evening and enjoyed music from the Travelin' Hillbillies.
Then we were officially open, and you all kept coming, through the hiccups and bumps in the road! You were understanding the days our card readers wouldn’t work and the fact you couldn’t call the Market for the first few months because our lines weren’t operational. You waited patiently for WiFi and gift cards and there are no words to express how thankful we are for your support and patience through those bumps. Our staffers, who are the face of this business, have been welcoming and tried to find answers to questions we had never been asked before. We saw our first craft festival (even though it poured rain!) and celebrated Veterans Day with over 200 of you. We hosted 14 company Christmas banquets and still a few more to come in January 2017. The end of the year was highlighted with our first wedding in the Granary, which couldn’t have been a more joyous occasion with a couple whose love and family completely outshined the beauty of the space!
Tomorrow we’ll unveil our first collaboration beer that our bar manager David has worked on with Three Notch’d Brewery and we can’t wait to see what you think! Our goal is to continue to grow and look forward to the future year. 2017 is sure to hold a number of surprises for this new adventure but we’re certainly glad to call this community and Weyers Cave home. We know with your support, plenty of prayers, and the hard-working employees we have at the Market, next year will be even better!