18 Feb New bumper sticker

Downtown Blacksburg Inc. (DBI) unveiled the new logo for the “BUY, EAT, LIVE local” campaign on January 27 2012. The logo was displayed on a giant scale adorning the drive side of a Blacksburg Transit bus in front of Burruss Hall on the Virginia Tech campus.

Left: Meaghan Dee, Instructor at FOURDESIGN, Right: Logo Designer, Amelia Liarakos

Proudly standing in front of the bus was designer Amelia Liarakos- a junior visual communication design major, and staff member of FOURDESIGN, a faculty-led, student-run digital and print design agency at Virginia Tech. Amelia designed the logo in two to three hours using Adobe Illustrator and said “It was more concept rather than building”.

The original “buy local. eat local. be local.” campaign ran from approximately 2006- 2011 and proved to be extremely popular throughout Blacksburg and the surrounding area. The DBI Marketing Committee decided it was time to revamp the look of the bumper sticker, to freshen it up, make it more appealing to a younger generation and add a “QR” code that, when scanned by a smartphone, could push traffic to their website. Organizers say the message of supporting the downtown merchants hasn’t changed; it’s just got a new look.

New bumper sticker

“What I wanted to do was to simplify it and give it a bigger impact,”  “I wanted to make it more modern. My initial thought was that the bumper sticker was a little cluttered, there was a lot of text going on,” logo designer Amelia Liarakos said of the old design. “For a bumper sticker you want something that’s simple and bold, so I wanted to simplify it.”

The logo is featured on bumper stickers which are free to customers at most downtown stores and restaurants. It is also displayed on fridge magnets which will be distributed at random during downtown events. T-shirts sporting the logo are available for $15 at Heavener Hardware, Mish Mish, Eats Natural Foods and Greenhouse Board shop. Long-sleeved shirts are available for $18 at High Peak Sportswear, Mish Mish and Heavener Hardware. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts will go towards providing great entertainment for downtown festivals such as Summer Solstice Fest and Steppin’ Out.

Designer Amelia Liarakos, in front of the Blacksburg Transit bus which carries her design

A lost art found in Downtown Blacksburg

13 Jan

Post by Karen Quina- Doyle

A Lost Art Found in Downtown Blacksburg

Faith Capone beams as she extends her free hand in a solid, introductory handshake. The other is firmly grasped around four-month-old Bennett, her first grandson who is hinged to her torso and is also, I surmise, the source of her prevailing glow.

“We were just over in the jewelry studio, and he was mesmerized by the torch.  I think he was taking it all in so he could go on to become the next generation of jewelry-makers,” she prides.  “He was really into it.”

The Path of an Artist/ Jeweler

Faith is the matriarch of the infinitely talented Capone family and owner of Capone’s Fine Jewelry and Design Studio at the corner of Main and Roanoke in Downtown Blacksburg.  Like her grandson, she enjoyed seeing her steelworker father pouring metal from an early age even if her calling wasn’t readily apparent.

“The college I attended in Edinboro, Pennsylvania at that time had 52 art teachers, three of whom taught jewelry, with an enrollment of just 6,000,” she says. “They even had their own jewelry department.”

By her own admission, an artist she was not really a “jewelry person”.  She didn’t enjoy her first jewelry class even though fellow classmates, some of whom offered to buy what she was turning out and others who went so far as to ask her to make their wedding rings, were quick to pick up on her talent.  Coerced by a friend into taking a second class over the summer, she flourished under instructor Roger Armstrong’s tutelage, Majoring in Art with a Minor in Metalsmithing/Goldsmithing.

After graduation and at the urging of husband Truman, teachers, friends and classmates who continued to follow and support her craft, she opened Our Friends Art Shop in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania.  It was here that she first officially marketed her own wares in a setting she likens to Downtown Blacksburg’s own Matrix Gallery.

The Move to Blacksburg

Reluctantly leaving that established business in 1973, she and husband Truman moved to Blacksburg where he pursued graduate work in Architecture and completed a Master’s of Science in Education at Virginia Tech. They both went on to teach a jewelry class there, but after three years and many state budget cuts, the jewelry program was phased out despite interest and enrollment that far exceeded capacity. Truman  worked as a  media designer and medical illustrator for the university and in 1993 received his Master of Fine Art degree and then went on to become  a professor of visual communication design, department head  and eventually the  first director of the School of Visual Arts (SOVA), which he helped found.

Last year, he returned to the shop, which he and Faith opened in 1986, with a hand in everything from designing the mixed media paintings, sculpture, and other works of art showcased and sold throughout the store to visual branding and physical space design, repairs, and maintenance.  He also creates the drawings that guide their custom jewelry designs.

Faith had no trouble establishing an equally loyal following in Blacksburg with most of her custom design work coming through referrals and word of mouth.  Over the years, she has adapted and extended her offerings to meet the town’s unique needs.

She has been commissioned to design the Steger Award for Poetry by Distinguished Virginia Tech Professor, the Poet Nikki Giovanni, each semester for the past 5-7 years, as well as a direct commission from President Steger himself, the gift of a lapel pin which he presented to the Queen of England during a recent visit to D. C.

Capone’s Studio create  hundreds of original design pieces each year from design concept to completion, as well as licensed Virginia Tech designs and price points for students, not to mention Capones has a reputation for being “technical repair specialists in the extreme” (think 17th-century silver teapot-leg reproduction, whose beneficiary proceeded to send silver from Jamaica just for polishing, pleased as she was with the mastery behind the repair) or seemingly easier fixes to costume jewelry and eyeglasses prized for their practical or sentimental value.  They are versatile, even going so far as to sell estate jewelry on consignment and appraisals and watch repair.

A Family Affair

Grandson Bennett and Faith’s daughter Harmony, were in town on an extended holiday stay.  She and her husband Will also have a hand in working remotely for the company (she with her  MBA degree and background in Environmental Marketing through photography and web design; he through computer systems/set-up), work from their home in Sausalito but are angling to get back to Blacksburg at their first opportunity.  She is eager to have a more direct hand in the family business similar to 5-year-old Bella, a bichon-frise adept at customer relations, and 28-year-old brother Austin, whose natural finesse and easy command of the jewelry trade are not only his birthright but a well-honed vocation that extends beyond the family fold.

“Austin was 3 years old when he first got involved in the business and worked here all through high school and college,” says Faith.  Austin remembers the jewelry studio in their basement.  “We ate, slept, and drank jewelry,” the two divulge.

After graduating with a Communications Degree from Tech, Austin went to work for a mom-and-pop jewelry store in Philadelphia before moving on to a three-and-a-half year sabbatical with Tiffany & Co. There, he worked on the sales floor, dealing directly with a broad clientele, as many as 30-40 customers per day.

“I learned right away to treat everyone the same, whether I was working with someone looking at a hundred-dollar silver bracelet or a hundred-thousand-dollar diamond ring,” he says. “It also taught me a lot about how to work with high-maintenance customers, not that we have any of those here in Blacksburg.”

That opportunity ultimately took him and his wife Caitlin to Miami, where she earned her Graduate Degree from Florida International University, before returning to Blacksburg a year-and-a-half ago.  He is currently pursuing certification through the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).

“My outside experience gave me a different perspective and unique appreciation of what our priorities should be,” says the handsome, urbane businessman who values the family’s reputation for achieving the highest standards in the industry through an unflinching dedication to both quality control and customer service.

“Each of our pieces is Cartíer-caliber,” he continues with a humble confidence that belies his age, “with the obvious distinction that each of our pieces is painstakingly made one by one at the hands of true craftsmen.”

Renaissance Man-part of a Design Team

That craftsman is Kirk Burkett who miraculously appeared in Faith’s doorway the fall she first opened asking if she needed some help.  Save for a brief vagabond stint that took him around the country, he has been with her ever since and is mentoring Austin, who shares his passion for making heirloom pieces from scratch.

“We have collaborated on zillions of pieces,” Faith provides.  “He’s the reason my hands stay cleaner and my fingers are no longer as warped,” she says, in reference to the way the physicality of such work can manifest itself.  “He has been a specialist from day one,” she continues.  “We at Capone’s establish an idea and he is integral  in  getting it done.  If he needs a jig, he makes it.  He’ll sit at the bench sometimes for ten hours perfecting a technique, defecting a finish.

A jeweler by trade since 1975, he was trained by the Lithuanian masters of the House of Fabergé, foremost among them, Bruno Sabonas.  He has gone on to perfect the vanishing, if not singular, craft of shaping raw materials into finished components for each stage of the custom production process.  (I am told there probably isn’t anyone within a thousand miles with his capacity for custom jewelry-making, though I am convinced after hearing more of his story that the range probably extends beyond that.)  His counterparts at Fabergé and Cartíer specialize in just one part of the process, whether that be polishing enamel, soldering shanks, or setting stones.  Kirk does each and then some.

During his years on the road, Kirk would stop in at jewelry stores and was surprised to find that the “jewelers” were mainly salespeople capable only of doing repairs or setting stones…if that.  In contrast, the number of component parts outsourced by Capone’s is negligible; Kirk  and team make nearly all of them (wire, sheet, and other raw materials) by hand based on the unique dictates of each piece.

As you might imagine, the tools of his trade are of equal weight and importance; he sourced each piece of his 100-year-old lathe one-by-one.

Enduring Designs

Faith and her design team are loyal to their reliable vendors, many of whom they have worked with for 15-25 years.  It’s an approach based on high trust, what Faith calls “the honesty factor”.  “We establish a relationship with our friends (she refuses to call them customers).  They trust us to pass along the faith we have entrusted in our vendors every time they choose to do business with us,” she says, citing a 25-year relationship with her diamond supplier; stones collected, sourced, and hand-selected exclusively from local vendors, sapphires from Sri Lanka, aquamarines from Brazil; a former apprentice, Anita Schultz, who honed her craft for 5 years at Capone’s before moving to St. Croix and is now back in the states turning out a line of handmade silver and copper chains and markings that is affordable in this economy.  “We don’t take vendors in from off the street.”

From there, they subscribe to a design philosophy of practical, wearable, durable, an approach that is conveyed through taking time to design things like jump rings thick enough to hold up for a number of years.  They are especially gratified when a customer returns after ten years saying “I still love my ring!” They appreciate being reminded that it is still holding up and that it has been designed well enough to transcend jewelry trends.

Collaboration is Key

Just as location, location, location is the formula for success in real estate, cooperation, communication, and collaboration (with a hint of mind-reading thrown in for good measure) are key to custom jewelry design.

“A piece of jewelry is a personal thing,” says Faith.  “If someone comes in with one idea, they leave with fifteen, without being confused about the choices.  At the same time, customers push us out of our comfort zone into more inventive designs.”

She goes on to relay a story about a woman who brought in three wedding bands from three generations wanting them to design them into something she could wear.  Originally thinking she wanted a ring, they sketched out a series of ideas,  such as taking them apart and linking the thin rings back together as a necklace charm  and ended up with birthstones from each of the three generation represented  suspended from the center.  “We ultimately created something that enhanced its inherent value even more,” Faith allows.

“It’s a long road between what customers envision and how you translate that, especially when the budget factor comes into consideration,” adds Kirk.  ” We at Capones prefer when they come in knowing exactly what they want and  I am satisfied when we nail it!”

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Has the talented design team at Capone’s nailed something for you?

We’d love for you to share your stories in the comments section, below.

a spoonful of paradise!

9 Jan

Post written by Lauryn Tamburello

I hope everyone has had a chance to have Self-Serve Frozen Yogurt (froyo) by now…it has been quite the craze lately and I don’t think it’s going away!

I moved back to Blacksburg over the summer after being in Northern Virginia for about a year and everywhere you looked, you’d find a self-serve froyo joint…I was in heaven. Then I moved back here and my boyfriend and I had to drive 20 minutes to Radford to enjoy the customized good stuff, I didn’t mind, but I’d certainly rather have one 5 minutes away instead!

Oh and now we do! Frosty Parrot has recently opened on Main Street right next to Mish Mish and across from the Post Office, a perfect location in our quaint town. You certainly can’t miss the shop either, with their fire red walls and colorful mascot parrot beaming through the windows!

Father and Son, Roger and Kyle Henderson can often be found at their proud establishment; Roger is in Partnership with longtime friend Randy Dutton and recently decided this would be a good venture. They started from nothing, no franchise guidelines or assistance and have learned the business through trial and error.

Roger has lived in the area for 20 years after bringing his family here on Father’s Day, 1991.  He is an ordained minister and has served as a Baptist Campus Minister at both VT and RU.  He currently serves on Sunday’s at First Christian Church (Disciples) in Newport.  Until this year, he taught Algebra at Blacksburg High School and continues to serve as the girls’ basketball coach.  Rogers wife, Cindy, is owner of Blacksburg Physical Therapy Associates. Roger says “It is my hope that Frosty Parrot Yogurt Creations continues to serve as a great alternative to the traditional bar scene.”

Kyle is a 2009 Blacksburg High School graduate and has been a part-time student at New River Community College.  Kyle serves as an assistant boys’ JV soccer coach at Blacksburg High School in addition to managing the Frosty Parrot. Roger’s daughter, Lindsey, is a freshman at Radford University but helps out with the family business in her spare time!

Like many folks in Blacksburg, Roger says that he always used the parking difficulty as a reason for not coming downtown very frequently.  “I really denied myself a treat.  Downtown Blacksburg is a diamond in the rough.  There is tremendous quality of food and retail shopping within – and just beyond – our 16 squares.  Downtown Blacksburg is more than the sum of its bars – there is great shopping, dining, and entertainment; certainly worth the inconvenience of a few extra steps.”

For those of you who haven’t yet enjoyed their 12 different flavors of froyo (and over 40 different toppings), stop by! You can check their flavors daily on their Facebook Page, where you can also find their hours.

When you first walk into Frosty Parrot, you’ll notice they thrive on cleanliness and a fun atmosphere, then you’ll see the wall of flavors! Grab a cup, choose 1, 2 or 12 flavors of froyo then head over to the dry toppings followed by some hot fudge or caramel and don’t forget to add some fresh fruit (or Reese cups, what New Year’s resolution?).

Looking for a place to get a head start on some fundraisers for your children’s sports, Greek Life, Relay for Life, etc? Look no further, Frosty Parrot offers “percent nights” from 6-9 where a team, organization, etc can come in to raise money and will receive 10% of ticket sales! The shop is also highly involved with the community, over Christmas, 20% of sales on certain nights when to the Montgomery County Christmas Store, a goodwill for the holiday season); also, they sponsor recreational sports such as basketball.

Also, don’t forget to “Like” Frosty Parrot on Facebook to receive frequent specials and look for their ad in The Burgs, the Collegiate Times and Roanoke Times for more discounts as well!

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Now you can sign up for a Parrot Pals Loyalty Card and earn points towards FREE YOGURT! Just ask for a sign up form on your next visit. Tell us about your favorite yogurt and toppings combination in the comments section below.

125 North Main Street
Blacksburg, VA  24060
Mon – Thu: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri – Sat: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am
Sun: 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Downtown Holiday Shopping Guide

19 Dec bumpersticker

FREE PARKING at all metered spaces now through January 3 makes it even easier to make Downtown Blacksburg your holiday shopping destination this year!

Great gifts for all are available in our downtown stores, so we have put together this brief guide to what you will find, where and when. And if you are still stuck on what to buy the person who has everything you can purchase Downtown Gift Certificates from the downtown branch of National Bank of Blacksburg.Now you can also purchase gift certificates and Blacksburg t-shirts and prints online at:Downtown Merchandise
Gift certificates are redeemable at over 60 participating businesses- you can get everything from a massage to a smart phone; from dinner in one of our many restaurants to a frozen treat in Rita’s or the Frosty Parrot; from shoes to tea services; clothing to snow boards!

Holiday Shopping Specials- Please note- all of our stores are CLOSED on Christmas Day

310 Rosemont- Uggs are in- Uggs slippers and boots make great gifts!
OPEN Mon-Friday- 11am-6pm, Christmas Eve-10am-3pm

Alligator Alley- Buy one get one half off on many items throughout the store
OPEN Mon- Friday- 11am-5pm, Christmas Eve- 11am-4pm

Beaux Arts Galleria- Holiday Sale 30% off online and in store orders
OPEN Monday–Friday 10am–6pm,or by appointment.

Bike Barn-Monday- All 2011 bicycles are 20% off. Emotion Kayaks are being sold AT COST.25% of bikes are Reduced!!
OPEN Tues-Thurs- 10am-5:30pm, Friday- 10am-6:30pm, Christmas Eve- 9:30am-5pm

Blacksburg Pipe and Tobacco- Many specials PLUS the great prices we have on all our products.
OPEN Mon- Friday-10am-6pm, Christmas Eve-10am-4:30pm

Bookholders-20% off all apparel
OPEN Mon- Thurs- 9am-8pm, Friday 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve- CLOSED

Campus Emporium-Sugar Bowl items now in! Special sale prices on many items throughout the store.
OPEN Mon- Friday- 9:30am-7:30pm, Christmas Eve- 9:30pm-3pm

Capone’s Fine Jewelry- 15% off Citizen watches. Holiday Hospitality Room offers a little extra pampering while you shop!
OPEN Mon- Thurs- 10am-6pm, Friday- 10am-6pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-5pm

Clothes Rack-Summer Dresses are on sale!! Buy Local- an eclectic shop for all of your eclectic needs!
OPEN Mon-Friday- 11am-7pm, Christmas Eve- 11am-4pm

Community Arts Information Office (CAIO)- Gifts of Art by Blacksburg Regional Arts Association
OPEN Mon-9am-3pm, Tues- 9am-3pm,& 4pm-6pm, Weds- 9am-3pm & 4pm-6pm,Thursday- 9am-3pm, Friday-4-6pm

Eats Natural Foods- Everyone’s a member on Christmas Eve & will receive 15% off. Live Local t-shirts on sale here!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-5pm

Fringe Benefit- Follow the sparkles to great deals throughout the store, amazing accessories available!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve- 9am-4:30pm

Gourmet Pantry- Wine Tasting on Christmas Eve 12-4pm
OPEN Mon- Friday 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve 10am-5pm

Greenhouse Boardshop- Exclusive VT Flip flops here as well as all your boarding needs! Live Local t-shirts on sale here!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-6pm

Heavener Hardware- Always great gifts for the home and the tool lover in your life! Live Local & Steppin’ Out t-shirts on sale here!
OPEN Mon-Friday- 7:30am-6pm, Christmas Eve CLOSED

Heirloom Originals-Antiques, gifts and originals- something for everyone!
OPEN Mon-Friday 10:30am to 4:30pm, Christmas Eve- 10:30am to 5:00pm

High Peak Sportswear -Your best source for t-shirts, golf shirts, hats, and all types of imprinted apparel and gift items!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-5pm, Christmas Eve -10am-3pm

Homebody- 20% off all clothing and don’t forget the Elephant Poop Paper!
OPEN Mon-Friday 10:30-7pm, Christmas Eve- 11:30am-2pm

John’s Camera Corner- Always a great deal and if it is still here on Christmas Eve it’s on SALE
OPEN Mon-Friday- 10am-5:30pm, Christmas Eve-10am-2pm

Kent Jewelers-New Pandora Inventory now in!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-7pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-5pm

Mad Dog- Coats 40% off  Sweaters 30% off
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-7pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-2pm

Matrix Gallery-A wide variety of pottery, glass, jewelry, wood, leather, candles and more
OPEN Mon- Friday-10:30am-7pm, Christmas Eve- 10:30am-4:30pm

Mish Mish- Many sales including easels, starter kits and paint sets. Live Local t-shirts & George Wills Downtown prints on sale here!
OPEN Mon- Friday- 9am-6pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-4pm

Tech Bookstore-33% off ALL VT clothing and gifts
OPEN Mon-Friday-9am-5pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-5pm

Ten Thousand Villages-Fair trade international craft supplier. Crafts from around the world from an ethical supplier. Located inside Fringe Benefit.
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-8pm, Christmas Eve- 9am-4:30pm

The 6 PAK Store at The Cellar- Christmas Ales are now in!
OPEN Mon-Friday- 11am-12midnight, Christmas Eve- CLOSED

Wireless Zone- 25% off all accessories including blue tooth, chargers and more, plus many specials on Christmas items
OPEN Mon- Friday- 10am-7pm, Christmas Eve- 10am-2pm

While you are shopping don’t forget to stop in one of our wonderful restaurants, services or the Lyric Theatre to enjoy the full downtown experience! Full list of downtown businesses may be found at

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Top Ten reasons to shop downtown!

16 Dec

10. Product Diversity- a multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based, not on a national sales plan, but on their own interests and the needs of their local customers, guarantees a much broader range of product choices.


8. Protect Local Character and Prosperity. By choosing to support locally owned businesses, you help maintain our diversity and distinctive flavor.

7.The Farmers Market is downtown!

6. Community Well-Being
Locally owned businesses build strong neighborhoods by sustaining communities, linking neighbors, and by contributing more to local causes. When you come downtown you will always bump into friends!

5. Bella,Sapphire, & Bradley the “mascot” dogs resident in Capone’s Fine Jewelry and Mad Dog and Heirloom Originals!

4. Keeping Dollars in the Local Economy
Your dollars spent in locally-owned businesses have three times the impact on your community as dollars spent at national chains. When shopping locally, you simultaneously create jobs, fund more town services through sales tax, invest in neighborhood improvement and promote community development.

3. You can stop and eat in one of the many fabulous restaurants and see a movie in the beautiful Lyric Theatre!

2. Public Benefits and Costs
Local stores in town centers require comparatively little infrastructure and make more efficient use of public services relative to big box stores and strip shopping malls………..

……and the # 1 reason to shop downtown for the holidays…..

1. FREE PARKING at all metered spaces through January 16!

Watch this video- Shop Downtown for the holidays!

Tell us why you love to shop downtown in the comments section below!

Down on the camera corner….

15 Dec

Post written by Tracy Watson
It is said that every picture has a story.  If that is true, then John Kline can probably tell it.  Ask him about the antique slot machine he traded for photographing a wedding, or about taking pictures of mining equipment seven levels down.  John Kline has seen and documented many changes since he first grabbed a camera so long ago.  Nowhere in Blacksburg will you find a better, more tangible record of the history of photography or of our town.

John has had a camera in his hands for as long as he can remember. His first camera, a Brownie Reflex, was his companion as a boy scout while he learned about the world around him. At Blacksburg High School he spent many late nights in the dark room as the school’s photograph editor. His summers were spent in the Virginia Tech photo lab. Even his years in the Navy were spent with a camera in hand.

John’s Camera Corner/Gentry Studio has been in downtown Blacksburg for more than 35 years. Having occupied many locations along Draper Road through the years, John recently returned to 213 Draper Road, a space he originally occupied when he first stopped working for Ewald Clark and started his own business. With all the extra room John has been able to fully display a remarkable collection of cameras, from vintage Brownies to 35mm cameras to modern digital cameras. While it may feel like a museum of photography, all these fascinating cameras are for sale and can be serviced right here.

John’s most unique camera can’t be found in his store, however. It’s in the restaurant across the street. A 1960’s photo booth. Pay your money, have a seat, flash your smile and take home a strip of four pictures as a souvenir.

John was among the first to offer  color processing in town many years ago and continues to provide film processing and digital photo printing today. He also does passports on site, photo restoration, large format printing and archival printing of your photographs. And if that wasn’t enough to keep him busy, John will photograph your wedding, reunion, or other event offering  all types of photography from aerials to wedding photography.

John is a proud supporter of “living local” in downtown Blacksburg stating that ” Survival in downtown Blacksburg comes first.  We adapt to the changes, but still keep the old alive, for example we are just building a Black and White darkroom again. We have added Records to our store to add a little more variety.  I have even sold sleds in the winter so you may never know what to expect.”

Take a look at or better yet, stop by John’s Camera Corner/Gentry Studio at 213 Draper Road and take a look around.

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and always a free cookie with your eye exam!!

14 Dec drjstaff1

Post written by Lauryn Tamburello

Dr. Steve Jacobs, Optometrist

Free cookies to get your eyes checked out? Yes, please! As soon as I walk into Dr. Jacob’s office, I’m greeted by two smiling women, Fran and Darlene, offering me a cookie while I wait to meet with Dr. Jacobs.

These two women (Fran’s the one baking the delicious cookies all the time – special advance requests taken eg. sugarless, nut-free etc…) along with Mechelle, Amanda and Regina, are part of what makes this office so special.  I look around and feel a sense of community and warmth; the office is covered with seasonal decorations as well as a community message board adorned with local business cards.  There’s nothing like a good support system.

No time passes as Dr. Jacobs introduces himself and we walk to the exam room. There I see how the office extends around the corner and comes out into an entire room of eyeglasses, there’s certainly not a lack of options here.

Dr. Jacobs came to the field of optometry in a somewhat roundabout way.  After graduating from Cornell University he received a Master’s Degree in Child Development at Michigan State.   However, due to the early 1980s’ prevailing political and economic winds, he decided another career option might be appropriate.   Following the suggestion of his father, who knew their local OD, he looked into optometry as a career offering involvement with people as well as science, and he hasn’t looked back.   The desire for a more laid back lifestyle, especially with two very young daughters, than one possible in Brooklyn or its environs, fortuitously led to Blacksburg “the U.S.’ best place to raise kids”  in 1988 and work at the newly opened NRV Mall.  Once he and his wife, Cathy, decided after two weeks that this is where they wanted to stay forever, it took two years to gather the courage and finances to open his own office, finding a perfect spot on North Main Street.

One way Dr. Jacobs stands out in the community is the personal service he and his staff offer as well as homemade cookies and the feeling you get as if you’re a part of their extended family. The practice is highly involved in the charity, VICCC, which works to create high-quality, affordable, educational, and nurturing care for very young children (ages 0 -5) of income-eligible working families in the New River Valley AND NRV Cares, which “provides child advocacy, resources, education and services.” For the past four years the office has held a “Trunk Show” in November featuring representatives from three eyewear manufacturers, great sales and great food, as a means to raise funds and awareness for these two organizations.   Patrons are requested to donate a portion of their discount the VICCC and NRV Cares, and Dr. Jacobs matches that amount.   Also for their benefit, the practice is currently holding a “Best of Blacksburg” raffle featuring items from local businesses such as wine sets from Vintage Cellar, Gillie’s gift certificate, jewelry from Capone’s etc…

A piece of advice Dr. Jacobs likes to work and live by and which helps local communities alike, is to be local and stay local.   Yes, the Internet might be convenient, but you’d be surprised at the great deals you can receive at your local shop! Don’t forget to “Like” Dr. Jacob’s on Facebook and stop in to buy a raffle ticket- 1 for $5 or 3 for $10! Drawing is next Monday morning (12/19), so hurry!!

Also, don’t forget to frequently check Dr. Jacob’s website for upcoming news & events and to learn more about his unique and wonderful staff.  The website is a great resource for those with common health concerns such as “What is Lazy Eye?”, “All About Color Blindness” and much more!

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Fran is the frame stylist and cookie cooker extraordinaire in the building and she boast that “she’s not the one with the accent…. you are” For an extra special treat try out Fran’s Recipe of the Month and let us know in the comments below which is your favorite! Happy Holidays!

Dr. Steve Jacob’s Office Location
620 North Main Street
Suite #101
Blacksburg VA 24060
Phone: 540-953-0136
Emergency Contact: In case of emergency, please phone our office at the number listed above and follow the instructions.


26 Nov KentJewelers1

Post written by Karen Quina Doyle

“Here’s to the crazy ones….The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.”

I’m sure I’m not the only one to come across this time-honored toast in recent weeks. What I wasn’t expecting was for it to come to mind as I was trying to figure out how to start writing this blog. And while I would be hard-pressed to go so far as to call her crazy, the rest of the Apple®-inspired tribute seems an apt way to describe Marla Kemsey, the creative powerhouse/owner behind Kent Jewelers.

Kemsey has elevated the whole experience of buying fine jewelry to an art form, redefining the way business is done in the process. “Our goal is to create a social atmosphere where you can buy jewelry in a way that enhances the aesthetics and economy of Downtown Blacksburg,” the attractive, fit visionary with characteristic composure and focus, provides. “I intentionally bucked the consultant’s advice to stick to a more traditional, formulaic layout in favor of a more personalized, boutique approach that’s not as serious about the way the merchandise is displayed. By design,” she is careful to distinguish, “I didn’t want the shop to look or feel like other jewelry stores.”

She succeeded. From the unconventional arrangement of the display cases to the hand-picked original art pieces gracing the shop walls, the resulting effect feels more gallery-like than category retail, sans the stultifying air that can sometimes make its way around such high-end transactions. By contrast, there’s an energizing vibe that emanates from the store and its ebullient manager Bailey Workman, a long-time employee and 2010 grad with a Management degree from Tech. It’s why you’ll find unlikely customers, like the camouflage-suspendered Roy C. Jones, gushing her praises for replacing a band on the watch she sold him on an earlier visit just as enthusiastically as a lady who is looking to purchase a diamond pendant.

Workman is as much a part of the draw as the singularly spectacular gems, each of which is individually chosen in careful collaboration between her and Kemsey as a process of this ring or this ring or this ring. “We decide on the front end what to sell and then merchandise it,” says Kemsey. “We may carry only one sapphire ring and one tourmaline ring and one ruby pendant that we specifically chose, each as a unique piece, as opposed to merchandising in multiples.”

Fifteen years after launching her first business venture, Chantilly Lace, which originated from a business plan she wrote as a Design major at Radford, the mother of three was ready for something new. “I love Blacksburg, and I wanted to continue to contribute to this economy rather than having to expand the other three or more hours away. My goal was to stay downtown, and I liked the idea of being right on Main Street. Blacksburg has an amazing amount of potential,” she endorses.

A Passion for Jewelry as Art
Not long after opening as Kent Square’s first anchor eight years ago, she acquired the shop’s first permanent art installment, a piece entitled The Grand Master Staircase by the Brazilian surrealist painter, Ferjo. “The painting was purchased at a gallery in Reno when I was supposed to be buying jewelry,” she confides. “It set the stage for the aesthetics of the store. Jewelry is beautiful. Art is stunning. I’m a huge fan of Picasso. The number of masterpieces portrayed in the contemporary context of this one collection is fascinating. I see something new every time I look at it.”

The contemporary but elegant feel of her most recent addition, a painting by Hugo Rivera that gives human form to a traditional subject, reflects the contemporary, eclectic feel she envisions for the store.

The day we met, she happened to be wearing something special, the very first piece of jewelry she got at market, a Cabachon lariat of garnet beads and freshwater pearls, even though she hadn’t worn it in three years.

Pretty in Pink
The daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Kemsey channeled her passion for the cause into Blacksburg’s annual Pretty in Pink fund/awareness-raising gala in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October. After hearing a radio report of another town’s success with a similar event, she knew Blacksburg could do the same based on its track record with, among others, Stepping Out; and she saw it as a way to give back to the community where women could come together around a social event. Now in its 4th year, the soiree has evolved into a good event that unifies downtown as more and more businesses like Gourmet Pantry, the Farmers’ Market, and Matrix Gallery, which was able to make a contribution to the Susan G. Komen Foundation with this year’s proceeds, have joined forces. Her hope is that it will continue to grow into the kind of event that is copied and used as a model for other small towns.

Holiday Get-Togethers
Kent Jewelers is set to host a number of other special events throughout the holidays. The first, Ladies’ Night, a social gathering organized around cocktail hour to give clients the chance to catch up with each other and the store’s latest offerings, is set for December 1. Kemsey and Workman have been known to give away thousand dollar diamond rings, in addition to the gift bags and wish lists everyone receives.

The guys will have their turn December 15 with Blackjack and poker chips that double as discounts on merchandise. It’s all part of their philosophy to bring people together in a fun social setting where they can feel comfortable and involved.

What’s on Your Holiday Wish List?
Have your eye on something special from Kent Jewelers? Write it down in the comment section below, and we’ll try to get word to Santa!

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Winter Events- mark your calendars!

14 Nov winterlights

NRV Roller Girls present:Drag Queen Bingo
2nd annual fundraiser on Nov 16th, at Awful Arthur’s after the Comedy Club
$15 for 15 rounds of Bingo, performances by the Drag Queens and a goody bag!
NRV Roller Girls

Creekmore Law Firm Open House
Thursday, December 1 from 6:00 to 9:00. Food, music, and a toy drive for United Way. Wear Victorian apparel for an extra bit of vintage Christmas spirit!

Ladies Night at Kent Jewelers
December 1 – Join us for a night of fun! Make a Christmas wish list, enjoy Hors d’oeuvres, and have your jewelry cleaned. Free Gift Bags to all attendees!

SILENT NIGHT silent auction at XYZ Gallery
December 2, 2011 6:00-10:00pm
Tickets: $2 in advance, $3 at the door
Bid on students artwork and enjoy light refreshments and live music.

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. & Town of Blacksburg present:
Winter Lights Festival with TubaChristmas and Holiday Parade
Friday, December 2, 2011. 4:00pm-7:00pm
4:00- 5:30pm Pictures with Santa at The Lyric (bring your own camera) Santa will leave at 5:30pm promptly to attend to other duties so don’t be late!
4:00-7:00pm Holiday Gift Market in Market Square Park
5:30pm Tree lighting by Mayor Ron Rordam and Santa, with music from the Blacksburg Children’s Master Chorale
6:00pm TubaChristmas co-sponsored by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. and the Department of Music at Virginia Tech in Market Square Park.
7:00pm Holiday Parade co-sponsored by Blacksburg Parks& Recreation Department & Virginia Tech Chapter of Circle K
Deo Gloria will be wandering the streets singing Christmas carols.

All ages and ability levels!
TubaChristmas is coming back to Blacksburg to join the Winter Lights Festival. TubaChristmas will make this the best holiday celebration ever! Bring your tubas, euphoniums and all of your friends to downtown Blacksburg on Friday, December 2nd , 2011.
Participants, please RSVP to

Holiday Craft Fair, Friday Dec 2
130 Jackson
Get into the holiday spirit by stopping by the Holiday Craft Fair at 130 Jackson for unique handmade gifts for all ages.

Tech Bookstore presents: “The Untold Civil War” Book Signing with James “Bud” Robertson, Jr.
Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 10:00am
“The Untold Civil War: Exploring the Human Side of War,” focuses on little known details in the lives of soldiers and leaders and offers a humanizing portrait of this time in history.
The book features 132 new stories and 475 rare illustrations, making it a perfect gift for history enthusiasts or those curious to study a new perspective on the Civil War.
Copies of the newest book will be on sale at the Tech Bookstore along with other titles by Dr. Robertson.

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. presents a FREE movie- “Elf”
Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. and the Lyric Theatre present our holiday gift to the Blacksburg Community
December 3- 10:00am in the Lyric.
Please come and enjoy a free showing of the movie “Elf” on the big screen in your favorite theatre!
Santa and Buddy the Elf will be available for pictures following the movie in the lobby.
Don’t be a ” cotton-headed ninny-muggins”…….bring your family, bring your friends!

Late Night at the Lyric presents
December 2& 3- Sing-along-Grease. Doors open at 11:30pm, show starts at midnight. All tickets $5
Also showing at 3:00pm  on Saturday December 3. Tickets $5

Gillie’s Tea Party!
Come and have tea at Gillie’s featuring 5 types of delicious tea to taste, fancy hors d’oeuvres , prizes and a very civilized afternoon of fun!
Sunday December 4, 4:00-6:00pm
Tickets: $10

HaeBo Productions present:
“Ten Minutes ’til Christmas” and “A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas” at GLE on Sat, Dec 3 at 2 and 7 and Sun, Dec 4 at 2pm. Admission is free.

Ladies & Gents Shopping Night in Downtown Blacksburg
Ladies Night- Dec 8
Gents Night- Dec 15
Featuring 4-8pm, late night shopping, personalized shopping assistance, free gift wrap, snacks and beverages, and holiday specials in participating stores.

Gourmet Pantry presents Holiday Cooking Classes
November 30- EDIBLE GIFTS FOR THE HOLIDAYS at 6:00pm $55 fee
December 7- International Holiday Cookies, the gourmet way. 6:00pm. $55 fee
December 10- “Taste of Virginia” great holiday gifts.- FREE
December 15- Gents Night Out at 6:00pm. FREE

New River Stage presents: The Society of Sidekicks
Saturday, December 10 · 11:00am – 12:00pm at The Lyric Theatre
Humanity is in deep trouble, menaced by the mighty power of the evil Bookworm! With earth perched on the brink of destruction, it’s time to call upon the heroes of the world to fight back. Unfortunately, almost all of them have been taken hostage by Bookworm. The last hope is the sidekicks, who are not quite sure they’re up to the job.

This delightful and entertaining original play is presented by New River Stage, showcasing the talents of its Dramatic Mondays class, a 12-week workshop for kids. The show will be presented on December 10, 2011 at 11 AM at The Lyric.
The show is free, and donations are very much appreciated.

HONK! is the musical journey of the ugly duckling, combining witty humor with a familiar story to create an entertaining experience for all ages. The sizable cast will include all ages from 6 through adults. The performance will be the first two weekends in March and the auditions are December 2-4. See for details.

Steve Jacobs O.D. Local Charity Fundraiser
Thank you to all of the Blacksburg merchants who’ve contributed items for our Best of Blacksburg Raffle. We have over 30 items on display with a total retail value of approximately $800. The Raffle will continue until the week before Christmas when we’ll pick our lucky winners. Winner #1 gets his/her choice of 10 items, #2 the next 10, etc… All funds rasied will go to NRV Cares and VICCC.

Hahn Horticulture Garden
Wednesday Garden Walks & Talks – Free!
Learn at lunchtime! All run 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m. – meet at the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion. No registration required. Parking passes available at Pavilion for Visitors only. F/S must park in designated F/S spaces.
These fun and informative walks and talks all start at the Peggy Lee Hahn Garden Pavilion. Did we mention they are FREE?
November 16 12:00-1:00 p.m. Art in the Gardens of New Zealand with Dr. Diane Relf
In a country as beautiful as New Zealand, art is integral to every aspect of life, from driftwood art galleries on the beaches to one of the finest botanic gardens in the world. Backyard hobby gardens and spectacular private estates are opened to the public to share the art of gardening and the art in the garden. Art shows are held in gardens to bring together nature and art.
Dr. Diane Relf, who winters with her husband Dave Angle at their home in Southland, New Zealand will share with you the country, the people, the gardens and the art. In conjunction with the presentation, there will be a show of New Zealand artists in the Hahn Pavilion from Nov 16 to Nov 30.
Call Stephanie at 540-231-5970 to register by phone or email

Blacksburg Newcomers Club
General Meetings start at 9:00am on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, September – May, at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church (600 Prices Fork Rd.)
Our organization is open to all residents of the New River Valley, whether you are new to the area or not. Making new friends and becoming part of the community is what we are all about. Please be our guest at our monthly meeting to learn more about this great organization.

Blacksburg Contra Dance Group
Blacksburg Contradances
Dances are on the third Saturday night of the month from 8pm to 11pm with a lesson at 7:30pm and in the YMCA Dance Room unless otherwise noted. Admission $8 (after 10pm, free) Children 10 and under get in for half price.
BlacksburgContraDance Here

Johns Camera Corner /Gentry Studio has expanded its Horizon.
.. We now sell vinyl records…..Camera repair…. 49cc motor scooters….., and a rental darkroom almost ready. Come and see us at our new location 213 Draper rd. Downtown.

Southwest Virginia Social Dance Society (SVSDS)
Every Friday – free dance lesson from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dancing follows at 8:30 p.m. First dance session free, and then $3.00 for members and $5.00 for non-members. Held at the YMCA Event Room.

SEEDS Nature Center Activities
SEEDS Come Visit!
November and December at the SEEDS – Blacksburg Nature Center:
Camouflage and how living things adapt to the change of seasons.
Tues 10:00am-1:00pm
Thurs 2:00pm-5:00pm
Fri 9:30am-11:30am
Sat 9:00am-1:00pm
Come explore, learn, and have fun!
Rain or shine…Nature discovery right downtown.
It’s a museum and more for children and the young at heart!

Blacksburg Farmers Market
Blacksburg Farmers Market hours for Nov and Dec are
Wednesdays from 2:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturdays from 9:00 am – 2:00pm

Next Door Bake Shop Happy Hour
“5pm to 6.30pm” $1 coffee in a mug. Monday to Friday!!!


9 Nov

Post written by Lauryn Tamburello

310 Rosemont is one of my favorite reasons to walk around downtown Blacksburg. Everytime I see the boutique I have to walk in, even if I was in there the day before! Something about the hard wood floor and vintage décor give you a warm feeling as you enter. My personal go-tos at 310 are the classic Longchamp bags, which last a lifetime and can even be washed down with soap and water (just be careful of the leather straps and accents!), as well as Jack Rogers Sandals. Between purchasing them for my mother and myself, I believe we’ve acquired at least 4 pair from 310 Rosemont. They always have an amazing selection and are willing to help in anyway.

You are greeted in the beginning of your shopping experience with, “Hi! How are you, can I get you water or coffee?” It is always nice how the staff want you to feel comfortable and take your time looking around.  Another thing I always look forward to is the candy jar! They keep it filled with an assortment at the cash register for your enjoyment.

One of the unique aspects of this boutique is how it equally caters to women as well as men. Past the women’s purses and shoes you are led to an endless array of bow ties, ties, polos, button downs, pants and jeans for men.  There’s also a place for the men (as well as boyfriends) to hang out and watch the sports game or play a round of pool.

Julie, a Virginia Tech Graduate in Fashion Design and Merchandising has recently taken on the new role of managing Blacksburg and Roanoke’s 310 Rosemont Boutiques.

One of the reasons Julie has taken on this challenge is that she loves the fact that 31o Rosemont offers  unique items including Jewelry (their top seller for women) and high-end brands such as Free People, BP Dakota, Uggs and plenty more.

310’s new seasonal items are Uggs (of which there is quite a variety including boots and slippers in an assortment of colors), fur vests, chunky sweaters and fall jackets.

A big seller to make 310 stand out from competitors as well as online shopping is the 10% discount they offer to VT students. When students go home and they see a pair of Uggs, Jack Rogers, a Longchamp bag, etc they know they can come back to this adorable boutique on Main Street, in downtown Blacksburg and get it for less.

310 Rosemont is also heavily involved in giving back to the community through Virginia Tech sororities. The Greek Life knows when they are trying to lend a hand to charities they can host a fundraiser at 310 Rosemont, whom will happily give a percentage of sales during a proposed time frame.

The store hours are Monday-Saturday 11-6 and Sundays 12-4 and are open all year round. Also, don’t forget to head over on Black Friday, November 26, to find huge savings!

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You can follow 310 on Twitter, Like them on Facebook and check out their website (which is currently under construction).


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