Updated: 42 minutes ago
AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Small Business Saturday this year, in the midst of a pandemic, is not about driving the masses downtown for one day. It’s really an invitation to shop small, shop often, and shop local through the holiday season and beyond. Waynesboro and Staunton are offering new initiatives to keep people shopping and supporting downtown. “So many people are still staying home, and with the rise of COVID cases you know they don’t want to go out shopping,” Jennifer Ledford, owner of Initial Inspiration, said. “We’re not able to have the large events, the large gathers,” Staunton Downtown Development Association Director Greg Beam said. It’s the same story with businesses across the commonwealth, and Shenandoah Valley-area businesses have pivoted. In Waynesboro, they’re launching Thirsty Thursdays in December. “We will have spiced cider, extended shopping hours,” Ledford said. Several merchants donated prizes for a drawing, and shoppers can go to those businesses now through December 3 to sign up. “Really doing more for our customers because they’re the ones that shop small and really make a difference for us,” Ledford said. Folks can continue to enjoy an outdoor meal in Staunton with Dine-Out in Downtown, as well as shop. “They all are prepared to open their doors and be ready to greet customers as they come in safely into their various businesses,” Beam said. The Staunton Downtown Development Association is aiming to provide a safe alternative to shopping in-person with an online directory. “It’s been a rough year for everyone, but we’re going to continue to need that support and those customers as we move into the coming months even,” Beam said. “The shop small messaging isn’t just one day it’s much bigger than that.” Information for Staunton’s Shop Small event is available on the Staunton Downtown Development Association website. Registration for Waynesboro’s Shop Small Saturday Prize is open now.
Updated: 48 minutes ago
Even several years after his death, a World War II veteran is still surprising his family. A piece from the Roanoke native’s wartime years was sitting in a museum in France until a stranger in Europe started asking questions. “Well, I’ve always liked history,” said Janie Simon. Simon is a woman who spends much of her day in the past. “It’s my first Zoom call,” she said while getting her microphone to connect, “So sorry!” Simon, who now lives in the Netherlands, said she devotes much of her time to studying WWII. “The home front stories, the stories of the soldiers, that element of the war really fascinates me.” she said. So too does the memorabilia, the things our soldiers left behind; some of which she recently found in a French online auction. “It was just a rainy day and I was sitting with a cup of coffee and decided I would just scroll through the auction items.” One item in particular made her pause mid-scroll. It was an American pilot’s cap with a name of its owner in the description. “I couldn’t scroll past that,” she said, “because I immediately start to think, who was this man?” Who was E.B. Thrasher Jr? Simon started researching. She followed a digital trail that led her to a home in Roanoke; filled now, mostly, with memories. “Yeah, he’s been gone for three years now and it’s, it’s been hard,” said the woman who lives in that Cave Spring home. Sue Thrasher, 90, is the widow of Ernest Boyce Thrasher, Jr.: a man she fell in love with in 1956 and said goodbye to in 2017. “I met him across the street on the golf course,” she said chuckling and pointing. Their love and their life was a good one, albeit devoid of war stories. Before marrying, Thrasher spent four years in service, enlisting just days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He piloted a B-24 bomber, based in Manduria, Italy, serving in the 450th Bombardment Group (H), 47th Wing, 15th Air Force, United States Army. His group, the 721st squadron, was among those charged with destroying Nazi infrastructure from the skies. “That’s pretty much, growing up, that’s all I knew,” said Andrew Thrasher, the youngest of E.B. Thrasher Jr’s four children. Andrew Thrasher said he can’t recall his father ever talking about the war. That’s why it was quite a shock when an internet stranger messaged his wife on Facebook about the hat a few weeks ago. “First you’re kinda like, well, is this really real?” Andrew’s older brother, Richard Thrasher, along with his mom and other siblings were skeptical. That is until the picture proof was undeniable. “On the inside where his signature was, that’s his hat!” said Steve Thrasher. “Yeah that’s his,” Andrew Thrasher said, recalling the photos. “I knew it was my dad’s signature,” Richard Thrasher agreed. “I was dumbfounded!” said Sue Thrasher. “I couldn’t believe it! I still don’t believe it!” “I feel like he is giving his family like this little wink and nudge,” said Simon. “...and it’s like, okay, yes, I left this earthly world in 2017 but I want you to have this cap.” With the family’s blessing, Simon helped secure the hat at auction. She solicited the help of a friend, whose grandfather, she said, died in a concentration camp. In securing the cap, Simon said she was able to share her research on Thrasher with the family and help shed a little more light on those years in the sky. “He’d probably love it,” Andrew Thrasher said of his dad. “He could probably tell us why his hat’s still over there!” The hat that carries the mysteries and the memories of the man in flight. “I’m proud of him for being my dad, I’m proud of his service,” said Steve Thrasher, “and that we love him very much.” It’s a love and appreciation of service earning a hat tip to sacrifice. “I’m so honored just to be a little tiny part in being able to return something to this family,” said Simon.
Updated: 52 minutes ago
Updated: 54 minutes ago
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Through sales at its thrift store in Harrisonburg, Mercy House helps homeless families and dependent children in our community. On Nov. 27, it opened a second thrift store location. The new storefront launched at 148 N. Main St. in Timberville. Retail manager Michael DelBiondo said the long-term goal of Mercy House is to find affordable housing opportunities for families. Not only is the building a thrift store, but also has six apartments to help families find an affordable place to live. “The Timberville location fits everything that the Mercy House is about under one roof,” DelBiondo said. “There are apartments not available yet, but there are apartments here. Currently, they are occupied so if anyone leaves them, we may transition someone else in.” DelBiondo said the Timberville community has already shown support at the new store. He said they made a lot of sales on Black Friday, which was their first day open. For more information on Mercy House, click here.
Updated: 56 minutes ago
The holiday shopping season has kicked off and Nov. 28 is Small Business Saturday, a time to support local businesses in your community. “This year I think Small Business Saturday is more important than ever before, and so we have been trying to find really fun deals to offer customers,” Sabrina Dorman-Andrew, the owner of New Creation, said. “We’re really hoping that people will come in and shop small and then we can offer great deals, and even freebies to say thank you.” Dorman-Andrew said New Creation has been open in Harrisonburg for five years and the past few Small Business Saturdays have been successful at her store. “We’re hopeful that it will be the same [on Saturday],” Dorman-Andrew said. “I think our local community really loves their small businesses, so hopefully they show back up for us this year.” To fit everyone’s budget, Dorman-Andrew said New Creation will have $5, $10, $15, $20, and $30 deals. On the other side of Main St. in Harrisonburg, Lisa Roeschley, the co-owner of Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn, said she is not sure what to expect because of COVID-19. “We’re going to have to wait and see how comfortable customers feel coming out,” Roeschley said. “We most definitely want to welcome them into the store.” While the Saturday turnout is up in the air, Roeschley said they’ve been working hard to prepare at Shirley’s. “We make all of our popcorn in small batches, so all day long we’ve been getting ready all the different flavors,” Roeschley said. “We carry 14 flavors here in the store, plus we have our holiday flavors, white chocolate peppermint, and dark chocolate peppermint.” She said this weekend, Shirley’s is offering 20 percent off and free shipping on orders over $50. For more information on New Creation, click here, and for more information on Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn, click here.
Updated: 58 minutes ago
On Thursday, Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue responded to an early morning house fire in the 100 block of Grover Road in Edinburg. Fire officials said they received a call around 5 a.m. where four people in the home saw smoke and flames coming from the basement while they were preparing their Thanksgiving dinner. The homeowners were both said to have volunteered with local fire agencies and determined the flames were too large to be put out. Fire officials said the family tried to rescue their two dogs as they were exiting the home, but were unable to do so. Shenandoah Fire and Rescue received help from Woodstock, Edinburg, Mount Jackson and Conicville volunteer fire departments. The family was also aided by the Mount Jackson and Woodstock Rescue Squads. Fire officials said the flames did rekindle overnight, and that the home is a total loss. The family was assisted Thursday morning by the American Red Cross. Coworkers and friends have since started a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $20,000. If you are interested in helping the family, click here. Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue would like to thank the Food Lion in Woodstock and the local McDonald’s who provided food and water for first responders as they were working the incident.