Village looks for economic answers

Published 8:40 pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ronnie Gould of Driver’s Rio Grande Traders says he’ll go back on the road selling his interesting assortment of goods. “I’m not going to sit here and wait for people to come in,” he said.

Driver was a riot of fun and optimism Saturday during its annual street festival, but village business are changing how they do things in a bid for a brighter future.

Gift store Knot Hole Station has long been one of Driver’s focal points. Joan Mayo said it started out across the street from the present location 36 years ago, selling hand-made crafts and items on consignment.

“That’s how I got started — working with consignment,” Mayo said.

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Citing a tough economy, the closure of the Kings Highway bridge and a tornado a few years ago — the same things other Driver business folks mention — she’s now planning to go back to the future, as it were, and start selling on consignment again.

Joan Mayo of Knot Hole Station in Driver plans to start taking quality furniture and household accessories on consignment, in the hopes of attracting more business.

“I’ve decided to start taking furniture and decorative pieces,” she said, indicating she will start advertising in November. “We want to be sure that we take furniture and pieces that are in good condition, are clean, and certainly can be resold, and people can get a deal.”

Down the road, Rio Grande Traders’ Ronnie Gould says he’s made 106 purchasing trips into Mexico and Florida through the years.

He adds tolls to the economy-bridge-tornado trio, saying that when people have to start paying them to drive out from places like Virginia Beach, places like Driver will start seeing a lot less traffic.

“It’s a shame we can’t all get together and pick out a subject,” like antiques, he said, to make Driver more of a shopping destination.

Before settling into his store about 20 years ago, Gould use to be on the road in the south and southwestern United States buying merchandise and then following the rodeo and show circuits. He said he’s thinking about doing so again.

“That was a fine way to make a living,” he said. “I’m going to start working shows, as many as I can; I’m not going to sit here and wait for people to come in.”

Phyllis Murphy of Harmony House Antiques said, “Everybody’s trying to come up with a new concept to make things work.”

Murphy said she’s rearranging merchandise in her store to give it a “fresher look,” adding, “We specialize more than we used to in vintage jewelry. We are very successful with that.”

At Arthur’s General Store, proprietor Greg Parker said he had been at risk of having to sell before some friends organized a benefit event.

Now he’s selling artwork on consignment and working on plans to introduce a “signature” food item.

“It’s a flicker better than it has been … I have had a couple of Saturdays lately that weren’t so bad,” he said.