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Made in America: Harriet’s General opens on Davis Street in Culpeper

A visitor walking through the front doors of Harriet's General quickly notices the wide variety of offerings for sale. There's a veritable kaleidoscope of color.

On the wall a sign proclaims: “If every consumer spent just 5% more on USA made goods, it would create nearly 1,000,000 USA jobs and assist in the building of the US economy.”

Don't waste time checking out where any of the myriad items displayed at Harriet's General were manufactured. Everything is produced in the U.S. of A.

Visitors might next recognize proprietress Kate Shrewsbury – she managed Pepperberries, now at 102 E. Davis St., for eight years.

“Sharon Clarke has been a wonderful mentor,” said Kate. “She's been very nice in sending people down here.”

Kate is joined by husband Acie in running the store, which has now been open just over a month.

She said it took two months from start to finish to remodel the space, order inventory and get the store up and running.

Acie pointed out that the wood on the walls is from a Rappahannock County barn that was torn down.

“I've been in retail for 25 years and always wanted to open my own store,” Kate said. “Acie retired after 28 years with UPS and now he can help me out.”

The Shrewsbury's are not naive about the challenges they face opening a small retail business in the face of today's economic climate.

“It's a hard time to open,” Kate acknowledged. “But there is both good and bad. With the holidays, we have a lot of people coming in right now. And it's fun learning to work together with Acie like this after nearly 20 years of marriage.”

Added Acie, “We both are used to putting in long hours, but now we work together instead of doing different things. It's wonderful.”

Being part of the Davis Street business community is another plus, according to the Shrewsbury's.

“People seem to be pleased with the store's concept, too.”

Kate said it was too soon to know what the most popular items might be at Harriet's General, but she mentioned a few things that she anticipates will catch the eye of shoppers.

“Our men's section has been very popular,” she said. Other than at the Cameleer, some of the things here are hard to find. We have a number of home items and under the front counter there are old fashioned toys.”
Acies's eyes brightened as he pointed to the toys.

“The yoyo's and slingshots have done real well, he said.”

Perhaps the bigger transition to full-time shopkeeper has been for Acie.

“With UPS I walked seven or eight miles a day,” he said. “Now I'm just standing on concrete. But I enjoy mixing it up with the folks that come in.”

Kate said that she and Acie have been very pleased with the suppliers with whom they have dealt.

“The quality is tremendous,” she said. “Some things might be a little more expensive but in things like the khaki's, socks and leather goods you can just feel the quality.

“And the vendors have been great to work with. If they tell you something will arrive in two weeks, it does.”

Acie said a lot of the vendors were “mom and pop places.” “You can see and get to know the face behind the merchandise,” he said.

If you enjoy pinball, try out the vintage machine at Harriet's General. “People say, 'a pinball machine? I haven't seen one like this in years.', Acie said. “All of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warriors Project.”

The name of the store has a dual meaning, Kate explained.

“My grandmother Harriet ran a UNICEF store in California and I would go out and visit her in the summer,” Kate said. “We'd go to San Francisco and that's where I got to love the retail business. We wanted to use 'general' for our store because we offer a lot of different things and because my grandfather was a general in the Army. So the name is kind of a play on words.”

Info Box

What: Harriet's General
Address: 172 E. Davis St.
Phone: 317-5995
E-mail: kate@harrietsgeneral.com
Website: harrietsgeneral.com
Twitter: @harrietsgeneral
Facebook: Harriet's General Store
Hours: Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Email the reporter at rfinefrock@timespapers.com

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