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Grocery Celebrates 1st Year in Business, 126 Years Later
George Bowers Grocery, an independent neighborhood store in Staunton, Virginia, marks its first year "re-opened". A grocery bearing the same name operated in the same location from 1881 until the early 20th century.
Owners, Brian Wiedemann and Katie McCaskey, re-opened the grocery because they believe in, and wanted to support, smaller, non-industrial food producers. They "re-opened" George Bowers Grocery in it's original location on November 22, 2008.
"We proudly carry artisan food from around Virginia and the immediate region. There is an enormous amount of top-quality food grown and produced in Virginia," says Wiedemann, a native of Ohio. "We actually want to bring in more and expand our assortment."
McCaskey, a Virginia native, adds "We envisioned a grocery we could walk to from our house. This is exactly the model most people had in small, compact towns and the ability to walk to a grocery is a perk we enjoyed living in Manhattan."
In unlikely symmetry, the original George Bowers was from New York City. He opened his grocery in Staunton under twenty years after the Civil War. He was embraced by the local community, something Wiedemann and McCaskey took to heart.
"We joked this year that despite a rocky economy, at least we weren't faced with circumstances Mr. Bowers must have faced.", said McCaskey. "Last year was both the 'best of times, and worst of times' to launch a small business. Thankfully we have a solid set of core customers who understand the importance of eating locally and supporting local business."
The grocery aggressively fills its day-to-day material needs from local suppliers. Renovation of the original space also used local craftsman.
The couple acknowledges the challenging economic environment the "new" old business faced its freshman year.
"We've been saddened to see the loss of other businesses because we know the hard work and dedication required to run a small business in a tough economy. We've been fortunate to surpass a milestone many don't." says McCaskey.
Adds Wiedemann, "We've outgrown parts of the physical store," adds Wiedemann.
The couple met in Manhattan and relocated to Staunton in 2008. Both are are both advocates of local food, environmental issues, and walkable development.
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George Bowers Grocery, in Staunton, Virginia, sells "staple goods & fancy groceries", just as it did in the same location over 120 years ago.