People come to the happy hamlet of Staunton, Virginia for many different reasons, not least among them our rich cultural offerings and a wide array of local foodie options.
And when they get here, finding it so charming after all, they often start to wonder, "What would it be like to live here?" Many go so far as to question us about the lifestyle and culture in Staunton, to pepper the locals with other queries, and even to seek out real estate, check out the schools, or look for entrepreneurial opportunities.
So we figured it would be helpful to get an insider's take on some of those key things that make our town different, making your curiosity just a little easier to satisfy.
Before you even arrive in Staunton, you can view the newest (2014-15) online guide to our town, put out by our robust tourism department. And if you're the kind of person who really likes to feel the paper between your fingers, you can have a copy mailed to you. And then there's the whole Visit Staunton tourism site for even more.
But the first insider tip that you need is to know — and practice — that Staunton is pronounced Stan-ton, not Stawn-ton! We'll forgive you if you mess up, but you'll hop on that local vibe a lot more quickly if you pronounce it right the first time! :)
Staunton has many resources for those who can picture themselves here among our ecclectic citizenry running a business to add to the city's charms.
First you can consider some niches that are clearly not being filled. A men's clothier comes to mind. More women's clothing options would be great, too. We could use a place downtown that combined local foodie culture with kitchen gadgetry, and another that offered a full line of grocery items (deli, bakery, produce, pantry and household items) with a boutique feel that's walkable to the city center.
There's likely also room for a stationer (letterpress especially), a shoe shop with good old-fashioned cobbler services, and place that specialized in soup and sandwich lunches, preferably with homemade baked goods, too.
And I can promise you that we'd really love more international cuisine offerings downtown. Hello suchi! We'd love Thai, Vitnamese, Greek, Middle Eastern — you name it, we just don't have enough of the flavors of the world to bite into!
Likely there are many more ideas to consdier for the reasonably priced rental spaces still available around our downtown. But what if you want to get into local business? Where to start?
If you're serious about a move and are eager to find out how to make it possible we recommend connecting with the Staunton Creative Community Fund (SCCF). They offer business advice, trainings, loans, planning services and more, among the many other things its creative community is engaged with.
In addition to business planning, the SCCF launched the (h)OUR Economy, a community time bank that's about to celebrate its second year in operation with well over 150 members and hundreds of hours — rather than mnoney — exchanged among its members for services. Every month they meet on the second Tuesday at 5:30pm for a potluck to discuss hyper-local approaches to building and sustaining our local economy. Want to go to one? Usually they're held at 16 West by Virtually Sisters, at 16 West Beverley Street just up the road from us. Bring food at 5:30 and hang out to discover something truly unique about our town.
Speaking of Virtually Sisters, they operate a local co-working space, offering small scale office space solutions for the telecommuter, small organizations, and community events. In addition, they too help foster small business growth with personalized services for their clients.
Those interested in teh downtown area specifically are also encouraged to contact the Staunton Downtown Development Association which is in charge of nurturing and supporting — and guiding — the downtown business community.
There's lots of other things happening in town that can give you a feel for the local culture.
Twice a year — during Memorial and Labor Day weekends — an event called Staunton Jams shuts down iconic Beverley Street for an all-day festival devoted to local music, art and culture.
And every Wednesday and Friday from April through November the Staunton Augusta Farmers Market operates in the downtown Wharf area.
Increasingly there are other weekend type festivals are happening in and around downtown. A good place to find out more is on a new blog called Staunton Insider.
Around town you can find the Staunton Little Libraries — locally made kiosks for picking up and dropping off books made free to use by the community. And you can look for ways to get involved with the community through Volunteer Staunton.
Of course this is all just a beginning peek into what it's like to come here and get a glimspe from the inside. But a start it is. We hope you'll check some of these things out!
— Joe and Evy (rhymes with heavy) Harman, Proprietors, Frederick House Hotel