DBI Celebrates Women’s Month

March 2020 marked 100 years since women received the right to vote. Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. is proud to have a number of businesses owned and operated by women in our community. In these times of uncertainty, we still wanted to take the time to spotlight these businesses and more importantly their owners. No more than ever it is crucial to support small businesses. Show these women and their businesses some love by shopping online, purchasing a gift card to use later, or leaving them a great review on their Facebook page.

CMG Leasing- Jeanne H. Stosser

Jeanne Stosser is the President of CMG Leasing, Inc. and of SAS Builders, Inc. She has been involved in real estate development, investment, and management for the past 28 years in the New River Valley. Jeanne is the recipient of the Small Businessperson of the Year Award, New River Valley Builder of the Year Award, New River Valley Association of Realtors Developer of the Year Award and is a past President of the New River Valley Homebuilders Association. She is a Class A Contractor and a licensed Real Estate Broker in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Through her companies, Jeanne owns and manages over 1,500 rental units in Blacksburg, Christiansburg, and Radford, Virginia. In total, her multi-family residential properties account for over 3,500 beds. Her varied experience and talents extend to neighborhood development, custom home building, and commercial construction as well.

For more information on CMG leasing and Jeanne Stosser, visit their website.

Fringe Benefit- Nancyne Willoughby

Owned and operated by Nancyne Willoughby, a Virginia Tech graduate, Fringe Benefit is proud to have served the community for 48 years.

Nancyne was born in Massachusetts, grew up mostly in Northern VA, came to Blacksburg to go to Virginia Tech, and never left. She earned a BA in Art, with a minor in History at VT. She joined DBI, formerly the Downtown Merchants of Blacksburg, in 1987 and has served as President of the Organization for a total of 16 years since joining. Nancyne was instrumental in the renovation of the Lyric Theatre and was a member of the original Lyric Board for 10 years. She has also served on the Friends of the Farmers Market Board for 10 years.

Nancyne says: “I love being downtown, you get a real sense of community. I love interacting with my customers!”

In March 1972 the original owner, local entrepreneur Beverly Patterson, opened Fringe Benefit in the old Mill building, later to move it down to street-front at 217 College Avenue. It was an all-natural fiber store, to combat the evil polyester of the 1970s! Nancyne remembers shopping there when she was at Tech in the late ’70s. This very successful women’s clothing and accessories shop was there for more than two decades.

Beverly moved to Texas in the early ’80s and the store needed some attention. Nancyne had managed a few other boutiques in town after college and decided to ask Bev if she would ever sell the store; a few years later Bev was ready to sell. Judy Murray and Nancyne bought the store from Beverly in September 1987. They updated the business and worked together as co-owners until Judy left the business in 1997. The original store was 900 sq feet. Nancyne decided she wanted a fresher look and a bigger space so she moved into the current location, the old spot where Davidson’s men’s clothing shop had been at 117 N. Main St. in June of 2004.

Special Features of shopping local at Fringe Benefit
Fashion Shows- Fringe Benefit has provided clothing and accessories for Fashion Shows over the years for the Blacksburg Newcomers Club & the Blue Ridge Cancer Center

If you like expert assistance, we will be glad to provide it with our personal service. Whether you are shopping for yourself or a gift for someone else, we have unique items that are sure to please anyone.

Gifts Galore-Looking for that perfect gift? Find it in our gift selection of Ten Thousand Villages, bath products from Caswell-Massey, local handcrafted soaps, cards from Palm Press and Local Wisdom.

Speaking of gifts, we provide free gift wrapping, reward you with 20% off on your birthday and enjoy the benefits of our frequent buyer’s club. Come in today to find out more details of these benefits and visit their website to see some of the amazing products Fringe Benefit has to offer.

Gourmet Pantry- Roya Gharavi

At age 21, Roya Gharavi owned her first restaurant in Virginia Beach, an Italian eatery. After 4 years, she sold the business and moved to Blacksburg where she opened another Italian eatery, “Champions Pizza,” on South Main Street. Three years later, Roya moved her business downtown and opened Champ’s Sports Bar and Catering. Roya sold Champ’s after 8 years and opened the Gourmet Pantry in 2000.

The idea for the Pantry came after Roya found herself searching for special ingredients in gourmet shops during her travels to bring back to Blacksburg. The Pantry was opened to service the fine people of Blacksburg with gourmet ingredients and fine cookware in a convenient location.

Today, the Gourmet Pantry frequently donates time to the community to do cooking demonstrations focused on simplicity and nutrition in addition to our regular classes. Roya’s passion for cooking and food inspires her to create new recipes for every class taught at the Pantry. Many of us know Roya as our own living and breathing encyclopedia of cooking. The trust that our customers have in our knowledge, service, and products puts us a cut above the rest.

Two years ago Roya earned her degree in interior design and started Roya’s Design Group. She works with individuals and businesses offering accessible and personal service that will work for you whether you’re designing a new house or redecorating an old one.

For information on upcoming cooking classes visit Gourmet Pantry’s website.

Matrix Gallery- Lana Juarez

Lana Juarez majored in Fine Arts at Virginia Tech, and it did not take her long at all to fall in love with the town of Blacksburg, Virginia. She’s always loved small towns and always felt at home with the independently-owned shops and businesses here. With her degree in hand, she applied to any arts-related job in the area that she could find, although most were commercial arts-oriented, and that was not her training. Thus, her first job out of college was scooping ice cream at Gillies Confectionery!

Ten Years after Graduating College Lana made a living gypsy style, traveling the East Coast and Midwest doing juried craft fairs. She met an amazing family of fellow artists and craftspeople, and over the years she was exposed to an incredible variety of top of the line creations including jewelry, pottery, woodwork, blown glass, and leatherwork—in fact, almost all of the things she carries in the gallery to this day. She used to wish and wish that someone would open a crafts gallery so she could work there. That never happened, so she did it herself!

A little space on Main Street became available in 1987, and although she had traveled to some Colorado ski towns and even considered the Outer Banks of North Carolina for the gallery, starting here at home made the most sense. Matrix Gallery started as a three-person partnership (Lana, her talented ex, Gil Roberts, and the visionary local builder, Phil Louer). The doors never would have opened without the hard work of each of them, and Lana is so grateful they made such a great team. Time marched on, and she ended up buying out each of her partners, and with nerves of steel and a great miniature staff (of one, occasionally one and a half), she continues to run Matrix Gallery.

Today Lana loves the little gallery now as much as she ever did and still gets excited when she finds new work, and she is so grateful for the support of this community. It has been such a pleasure for her to share her love of beautifully crafted, functional art to live with and art to use and enjoy every day. She has always loved the care and energy put into something that is made by hand, and it has always been important to her to support American artists who are brave and driven enough to continue this important tradition.

For more information and to view some of Matrix Gallery’s product assortment visit their website.

New River Art & Fiber- Jessica Jones

New River Art & Fiber is the culmination of a three-year-long evolution that began when Jessica Jones joined New River Fiber Co. as its manager in 2017. The store was already three years old at that time, but was struggling and would greatly benefit from rebranding and a change of location.

Jessica chose to move the business into downtown Blacksburg because of a strong personal belief in the inherent value to be found in a vital downtown business community. She is proud to work alongside a great many downtown businesses owned and staffed by strong, savvy women, and hopes to be a positive force in Downtown Blacksburg’s continued growth.

Visit New River Art & Fiber’s new website to shop their products online.

Other Businesses downtown owned and operated by women: 

  • Beliveau Winery
  • Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation
  • Heirloom Originals
  • Kent Jewelers
  • Lia’s Hairstyling
  • Lyric Theatre
  • Moss Arts Center
  • New River Diaper Pantry
  • New River Irish Dance
  • New River Stage
  • Pointe West Management
  • Southern Harts Boutique
  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Sweet Rebellion
  • t.r. collection

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