An old store and memories reclaimed
If you’ve lived in the lower end of the county long enough, chances are that you remember the glory days of Russell’s Garage and Store, perched alongside Rt. 33, in front of what is now known as Mica Springs Farm.
Melissa Via places popular old-time drinks in the vintage Coca Cola drink cooler that once was used in the Short Pump General Store in preparation of this weekend’s grand opening.
Family members are breathing new life into the old store, which is seeing a revival of sorts, as they strive to carry on the family’s legacy as store owners and proprietors.
In the 1920s, store founders George and Ida Mae Russell established a garage and store on the circa 1857 family farm.In addition to vehicle repairs, the Russells began selling Vienna sausages, crackers and homemade cupcakes, as well as items that local farmers needed such as nails and other tools.
Eventually, the business grew into a full-fledged country general store where residents in the community could pick up ingredients or needed household items. Fresh eggs were collected by customers straight from the chicken coop at the front of the store and they could also buy fresh meats.
Locals used to gather at Russell’s Store to gossip around the wood stove, catch up on the latest news and keep up with what was going on in the community. It became a gathering place for nearby residents.
According to family members, Mrs. Russell was shot during a store robbery at one point during her ownership, but that didn’t frighten her into closing the store. She continued to operate the business she retired in 1988.
Following her death on February 23, 1990, the building was rented to numerous other proprietors who tried their hand at operating a convenience store, but none were successful.
The structure has been vacant for a few years now and was most recently being used to store an aunt’s old furnishings that were packed up and brought to the farm after her death.
After selling many of the stored items that relatives did not want, the family decided to reopen the store with sisters Julie Maxey, Melissa Via and Mary Maxey running the business. In honor of the three, the business is named J&M’s Nifty Thrifties at Russell’s General Store.
To read the entire story, see the Oct. 17 edition of The Central Virginian.