Tag Archives: Fringe Benefit

Dogs of Downtown- meet Keefer Dogg

5 Nov Keefer2

Post written by Erin Jenkins and Laureen Blakemore

The dogs of downtown are fancy and enjoy “the finer things in life”, but they want you to know they are just like all the other dogs out there. The Sister dogs of Clay Corner Inn Minkie and Caly enjoy lawn games with their parents and guests. Caly is an expert cornhole player, frisbee golfer, and both sisters love their tennis balls. Bella, the greeter and Fine Jewelry Expert at Capone’s Fine Jewelry  enjoys visits to the Farmers Market and sitting on laps in the store while visitors work with her mom and “brother” to design beautiful pieces of jewelry.  While Keith R. Dogg (“Keefer Dogg”), the  assistant curator at Matrix Gallery, enjoys long walks and seeing all his friends at doggy daycare.  When Keefer is not working at the gallery he can be found relaxing or helping his dad around the house, talking nice long walks, attending daycare  at Flying Fur  and taking training  classes with his humans.

While visiting I saw Mr. Dogg knock over a small book with his tail and he told me that often his big fluffy tail is too cumbersome for his mom’s gallery, so he gets to go on a car ride with his dad. Since he does spend a good amount of time “off the job” he really tries to soak up the attention from his customers at the gallery when he’s there.  Keefer Dogg  really does enhance your shopping experience, as he is such a smiley beautiful English Shepard. Keefer is very well trained, and getting even better as he grows.  His treat of choice is cubed Colby cheese, but we are pretty sure he would not turn down any kind of treat.
I asked Keefer a few important questions to get to know him better.
Q: So Keefer, are you a big Hokie fan?
A: I loooove turkey!

Q: What do you want people to know about you?
A: My bark is worse than my bite, and I wanna be loved!

Q: What is your main gripe about Downtown Blacksburg?
A: Not enough fire hydrants

Q: Do you get bored at the store with no other pets around?
A: I get walks with Dad lots , and I get a lot of treats. Of course I do want some more friends–furry and not– to come on over and visit me in Matrix Gallery!

Keefer is very excited that his store will be celebrating its 25th birthday on November 16, although he is a little concerned that mom may not let him come to the party. (Something to do with fluffy waggy tails and too much cheese which is supposed to be for the guests and not for him!) The big celebration takes place on November 16, 4:00-8:00pm. All non doggies are welcome to join the fun which will take place in Matrix Gallery!

Matrix Gallery is located at
115 North Main Street
540-951-3566

Coming in our next installment of the Dogs of Downtown; meet Minkie and Caly, the innkeepers of Clay Corner Inn.

Why not visit some of the Dogs of Downtown:
Calypso the Golden Retriever and Minkie the Jack Russell mix, Dog-keepers at Clay Corner Inn
Keith R. Dogg “Keefer Dogg”, Assistant Curator at Matrix Gallery
Molly and Minnie the mini-Schnauzers, Sales Assistants at Mad Dog
Goliath the Bulldog, Marketing Team Member at Nest Realty
Bella the Bischon Freis, Diamond and Fine Jewelry Expert at Capones Fine Jewelry
Barkley, Antique Collector at Heirloom Originals
Xena, the receptionist at The Laser Clinic
Milo, the greeter at 130 Jackson, who can often be found stationed outside Bollo’s

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Dog friendly downtown locations:
Fringe Benefit
Greenhouse Boardshop
Heirloom Originals
Huckleberry Trail
High Peak Sportswear
Heavener Hardware Lumber and Rental
Mad Dog
Market Square Park
Matrix Gallery
Nest Realty
The Community Arts Information Office
The Henderson Lawn

PLEASE be a responsible pet owner and pick up after your dogs.

A Downtown Blacksburg Paradox Turns 40

12 Mar

When I turned 40 (I won’t tell you how many years ago), I understood firsthand why, for a time, it was known as “The New 30″ (I’ve recently heard that that distinction now belongs to 60). It was liberating and empowering in ways I never imagined. I was comfortable and confident in my own skin. Like so many other invincible women before me, I never dreamed getting older could have so many wonderful fringe benefits. It seems a fitting paradox, then, that Fringe Benefit joins rank as it celebrates its own 40th birthday on March 18th.

Keeping up with the times

The Downtown Blacksburg women’s fashions’ mainstay has come into its rightful own in the capable hands and devoted heart of its endearing shop owner, Nancyne Willoughby, for the past 25 of those years.

“The original owner, Beverly Patterson, opened it as a natural fiber clothing store to combat the evil polyester of the ’70s,” Willoughby reveals.  “I thought the store needed a local owner after Beverly moved to Austin (Texas), so I wrote her a letter asking if she would sell the shop,” she divulges.  Two years later, Patterson conceded, and Willoughby bought the shop, as well as the name in September 1987 with then business partner, Judy Murray, who moved on in 1997 and now lives in Mexico.

“I shopped in the store while I was in college and enjoyed it. I never left Blacksburg after graduation,” says the arts-major-turned-shop-owner.  “We gave it a facelift and some love and expanded our market beyond students into locals and professionals.  We focus on personal service, and the store has evolved to keep up with the times,” according to the successful businesswoman, who knows every customer by name.

An Affinity for Giving

Every shopper gets 20% off on their birthday along with a Frequent Buyer Program, which has been a signature promotion for the past 16 years.  The loyalty incentive automatically entitles customers to 15% off every purchase beyond the first $350 through the following Labor Day, culminating in an annual end-of-summer, holiday-themed sale.

A Move in the Right Direction

In June 2004, Willoughby moved the shop from its original location on College Avenue, now home to Hokie Spokes, to its current location at 117 North Main Street between Matrix Gallery and Homebody.

“We more than doubled in size, increasing the space from 900 square feet to just over 2100,” she says.  “It was scary, because I had such a bigger space to fill,” she confides, “but I ended up overfilling it.”

Some of that additional space was filled with brand extensions like Ten Thousand Villages and Dansko shoes, which she has carried since 2004 and 2007, respectively, along with her most popular lines Cut Loose, Click, Habitat, Jag Jeans, Pure, Neon Buddah  “tons of accessories”, and a lot of stuff made in the U. S.

“I pick up new lines each season,” she adds, without being forced into playing favorites.  “I don’t know that I have one,” she says, genuinely torn. “It’s hard to decide.  I like a little bit of everything.  There’s something for everyone with jewelry from $10-150 and clothing prices that range from moderate to ‘up’.”

Stop by and check out the Spring 2012 collections, which feature a lot of green, perfectly coordinated with the shop’s day-after-St. Patrick’s Day 40th birthday.  While you’re there, check out David Nickerson’s original miniature, depicting Fringe Benefit’s place in Downtown Blacksburg’s history, on display behind the counter.

Help Make Fringe Benefit’s Birthday Wish Come True!

Looking for the perfect thing to get Fringe Benefit for its 40th birthday?  Lots and lots of likes on its Facebook page, which you can do by clicking here.  It only takes a minute and won’t cost a thing but will go a long way toward poising the shop for many years of continued success.

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Art at the Market

8 Jul Mccabecoolidge

Passionate about art? Love our Blacksburg Farmers Market? Is breakfast your favorite meal of the day? Love to buy local?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have the event for you! Saturday, July 16th, sees the return of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.’s annual Art at the Market. The event has been around for nigh on 20 some years and changed locations and titles three time. It has grown from a handful of artists displaying their latest paintings on a fence of Henderson Lawn on College Avenue under the dubious protection of a handheld umbrella; “Art on the Fence”; to artists showing their work in the alley behind the original Farmers Market; “Art Along the Alley”;to over forty artists in 2010 filling 10×10 booth spaces on the lawn of the Media Building on Draper Rd; “Art at the Market”.

Local artist, Sally Mook, remembers the event well having been a participant since 1987. “Art at the Market started out as Art Along the Fence, the fence being the one that enclosed Henderson Lawn from Main street to Squires Student Center on College Ave. Some artists brought their own setups, but a lot of us hung our paintings from the fence by looping the painting’s wire over the fence spikes or leaning paintings against the fence and resting them on the brick wall……
There was good shade from all the trees along Henderson Lawn and College Ave…. There was good camaraderie among the artists then just as there is now.
The idea that didn’t work out was “Art Along the Alley” – it was waaaay too hot there and that must have been the low point for Blacksburg’s sidewalk art show as I believe there were only 7 of us artists.
No matter what the weather, I’ve always loved being a part of this show. So many people come downtown to look at art and to visit, it’s truly a fun, hometown event for me.”
Nancy Norton, stained glass artist, shares an enthusiastic view of the event; “This will be my fifth year at Art at the Market. Through heat and rain and perfect weather, it is always a treat to see so many folks downtown and for them to have a delightful opportunity to see what our local artists are doing.”

Without a doubt this exposition of unique works showcasing local artists in all visual media has seen its popularity and success increase as each year passes. Attracting an increasing number of artists each year it has become the premiere arts event in Blacksburg.

Art at the Market is now held each year in conjunction with Breakfast at the Farmer’s Market, a family event featuring wonderful locally grown food, live music and the best produce the farmer’s have to offer! This is the ideal opportunity to take in a little art with your breakfast.

Art at the Market is another great event brought to you by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. with sponsorship from
Fringe Benefit, the Community Arts Information Office, and Mish Mish

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year to be local!

7 Dec boots

Get into the holiday spirit while supporting your local merchants- join  us for our special holiday shopping nights in downtown Blacksburg. For unique and unusual gifts, eclectic dining choices and a variety of special activities there is no better place to go. The activities on Ladies’ and Gents’ Nights are not restricted to the venues listed- featured below are details available at time of writing.

Downtown Blacksburg: buy local. eat local. be local.

Ladies’ Night- late night shopping/dining- Thurs 9th Dec, 4-8pm
Ladies come on downtown for Ladies’ Night- enjoy special treats and attentions. Let your local merchants assist you in creating your Wish List so that special someone in your life knows exactly what you want this holiday season! Shop for your significant other, family and friends.

Great shopping- including free gift wrap, personal shopping assistance, special discounts, wish lists, refreshments and more at participating locations:
Fringe Benefit
Matrix Gallery
Gourmet Pantry- great gifts, excellent service and a fun night out!
Main Lee Art- make a holiday ornament while enjoying a hot beverage.
310 Rosemont
Kent Jewelers- Holiday gift for everyone! Free jewelry inspection and cleaning while enjoying Hors d’œuvres
Mad Dog- wine & cheese
Community Arts Information Office- Blacksburg Regional Art Association offering “Gifts of Art”

Great Food- specials
Poor Billy’s
Ben & Jerry’s
Rita’s- buy a gift card of $10 or more and get one free treat
Next Door Bake Shop- 10% off
Café de Bangkok- 10% off meal purchase
India Garden – 10% off meal purchase
Bollo’s & Gillie’s

Great Entertainment and a place to stay!
Main Street Inn- Make a night of it. 10% off room rate
Gillie’s -acoustic favorites with Bobby Parker 7-9:30pm
Awful Arthur’s- Metal bands from Fredericksburg, Richmond, Roanoke and Blacksburg will perform at 8 p.m.
622 North- 10 Dollar Sins, classic blues, rock, R&B at 9pm
The Lyric Theatre- showing “Hereafter” at 7 & 9:30pm

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Gents’ Night- late night shopping/dining- Thurs 16th Dec, 4-8pm

Gents come on downtown for Gents’ Night- enjoy special treats and attentions. Find out what your significant other has on their personal Wish List held in each participating store. This year that special someone in your life will get exactly what they want this holiday season! Shop for your significant other, family and friends.

Great shopping- including free gift wrap, personal shopping assistance, special discounts, refreshments and more at participating locations:
Fringe Benefit
Matrix Gallery
Gourmet Pantry- champagne, tasty treats and a store full of great gifts.
Main Lee Art- make a holiday ornament while enjoying a hot beverage.
310 Rosemont
Kent Jewelers’- Hang out with the guys and play blackjack for discounts on jewelry. Enjoy chili, wings, and beverages on us while you get your Christmas shopping done early.
Mad Dog

Great Food- specials
Poor Billy’s
Ben & Jerry’s
Rita’s- buy a gift card of $10 or more and get one free treat
Next Door Bake Shop- 10% off
Café de Bangkok- 10% off meal purchase
India Garden – 10% off meal purchase
Bollo’s & Gillie’s

Great Entertainment and a place to stay!
Main Street Inn- Make a night of it. 10% off room rate
The Lyric Theatre- showing “Inside Job” at 7 & 9:15pm
Gillie’s – bluegrass with The Java Brothers 7-9:30pm

Fashions for Evergreens

5 Dec DBI- 30 Yrs of Steppin' Out

The holiday season is right around the corner, and it is time to enjoy the designs of local businesses  at  The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center’s Fashions for Evergreens 2010 display!

Fashions for Evergreens has become a staple in the New River Valley as young and old, locals and visitors grace the foyer of the Inn at Virginia Tech to view the decorations!

For the third year running Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. is participating in this fun filled activity. The theme for our tree this year is “30 years of Steppin’ Out”. Decorations on the tree include miniature replicas of the 30 t-shirts from each Steppin’ Out, garlands and ornaments made from old Steppin’ Out t-shirts and gold painted leaves from the downtown Ginko trees.

The tree was designed and created by Steve & Debbie Miller of Mish Mish, Mary Woodall of Sew Attitude, Ranae Gillie of Bollo’s & Gillie’s, Nancyne Willoughby of Fringe Benefit and Sue Drzal and Laureen Blakemore of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

The trees will be on display until the Inn closes for the holidays on Dec 19th. Voting for your favorite tree takes place through Weds Dec 8th. So hurry on over to The Inn at Virginia Tech with your family and friends to enjoy the decorations and to vote, vote, vote!

May the best tree win!

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Fringe Benefit: Pre-Holiday Sale!

11 Nov

Pre-Holiday Sale at Fringe Benefit
Starts this Friday, November 11th through November 21st!
20% off Storewide!
Excludes Dansko, includes sale merchandise

Serving Downtown Blacksburg since March 1972, Fringe Benefit caters to all your seasonal needs. It originally started out on College Avenue near the Lyric Theater. Currently, it is located conveniently on Main Street. Owner, Nancy Willoughby, took over the establishment in 1987. She moved to southwest Virginia to attend Virginia Tech and never left the area.

Have you stopped by Fringe Benefit? Fringe Benefit offers a wide range of shoes, clothes, jewelry, accessories and handcrafted items. You can find the latest styles of Dansko. Great for the fall and winter season these shoes offer comfort and warmth! Check out earrings by Patricia Locke. These earrings are a hit with a mix of fine art and modern fashion. Oh and one cannot have enough sweaters so wrap up in the warmth of one of the season’s latest finds.

Looking for the perfect gift? Fringe Benefit carries the latest household items from Ten Thousand Villages. This fair trade establishment started out in the 30s or 40s and it offers a variety of products from all around the world. You can find baskets, candles, picture frame and other household items.

Stop by during the pre-holiday sale and stock up on your seasonal gear!

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