You’ve heard of Apple Records, right? How about Apricot Enterprises?
Well, if you’ve been in Blacksburg for very long you most certainly have passed the store, or even shopped there. Maybe it would help if you knew Arabic, because “apricot” translates to “mish mish”.
In 1967, owners Steve and Debbie Miller came to Virginia Tech as Architecture students …. actually Debbie was more of an artist. Both Virginians, Steve being from Richmond and Debbie from Alexandria, they connected sometime in those early years when good old VPI was still a very male-dominated school.
Three other friends by the names of Phil, Dave, and Jay joined Steve in recognizing the need for architectural supplies, and with a $300 loan they opened the first Mish Mish storefront in February of 1970. Debbie was an associate and the five of them opened for business on the 2nd floor of the 100 Block of Roanoke Street, next to a hippie store known as Humble Pie.
Obviously, it was a smart move to open such a store because today, 41 years later, they are as large as ever in their Main Street location. And their wares are not just for architects, or designers, or artists, or engineers ….. they are an integral part of the downtown Blacksburg landscape and cater to all kinds of creative people, whether connected with the college or not.
Many old-timers might remember their early store sites on Roanoke Street, followed by a move to the alley behind Bollo’s right next to the Lyric Theater’s back door, and then to a street-facing spot under the parking lot at Draper and Jackson Streets. That was back in the days one might find a resident cat hanging around the premises.
Today you will find Mish Mish directly across from the Post Office, and you’ll also find added features. This locale also has an artist gallery where local talent display their creations on consignment, and where you can have custom framing done on your own prints. As you browse the store, you are only seeing the retail portion of this unique trade. Behind closed doors in the rear, and up the stairs, are thousands of square feet of storage and office space that are vital to keeping the place ticking.
Mish Mish is a bright, well organized shop with all kinds of tools for kids and adults to use. Even if you just need a good fancy pen for yourself or as a gift, this is the place. The owners and staff can help you find anything, and can even suggest what you might need for the project you have in mind.
Visit Mish Mish at 125 North Main Street, or go to their website at www.mishmish.com.
Written by Blacksburg Resident Dennis Smith. Check out Dennis’ blog That 70’s Blacksburg