Story and photography by ELIZABETH GRANGER
She chose her scent: mixed berry parfait. She chose her color: red. She measured and stirred and poured, and then, as her candle set, Ginny Toms wandered throughout the Warm Glow candle store with coupon in hand.
It was part of a Just Us Girls getaway package coordinated by the Richmond-Wayne County Convention & Tourism Bureau.
Toms, of St. Paul, Minnesota, was there with her BFF from junior high, who had moved to Indiana years ago.
“Richmond has been a great place for our girlfriends’ getaway,” Toms said. “It’s a smaller community (35,000 in Richmond; 70,000 in Wayne County) with lots of quality things to see and do.”
Girlfriends’ getaway packages have been a popular Wayne County offering for some time. They combine lodging, shopping and experience possibilities that typically include at least one night’s stay. Some packages focus on specific interests— antiques, history, art, flowers, spa pampering, the culinary scene—while others are more fluid with participants choosing a variety of experiences. They often include stops and samples on the Chocolate Trail, for which Richmond has long been known. The package contains coupons from several businesses.
Toms and her friend dabbled in a variety of experiences. Among them, the candle-making at Warm Glow Candle Company.
The candle shop at Exit 145 off I-70 started in the Richmond basement of Alan and Jackie Carberry’s home in 1994. When it outgrew the basement, it moved to Centerville, where visitors often thought they were smelling freshly-baked fruit pies as they strolled along the National Road (U.S. 40). Shortly after the factory moved to Centerville, they opened the shop at their interstate location where they highlight and sell their signature line of “lumpy, bumpy handmade candles.”
In 2018 “the perfect blend” of Artisans & Java opened next door to the Warm Glow candle shop with local paintings, pottery, jewelry, note cards, wall hangings and more.
For a different art experience, Toms and her friend visited the hands-on interactive Paint the Towne art studio in Richmond’s Depot District for a fluid art project. Toms’ combination of turquoise, yellow and ocean green produced a stunning lime green section on her canvas which was the hit of the afternoon.
“I wanted a place where people could come to experience art,” says Paint the Towne owner Maria Haber, who offers classes on pottery, acrylic painting, glass art, wet clay, mixed media—sometimes as wine parties. She also offers options for walk-ins, where pottery is particularly popular.
Boutique shopping took the duo to nearby Luxe Lizzies and the Cozy Nest, two seemingly unrelated businesses that share retail space. Luxe Lizzies offers clothing and accessories with a young-ish vibe; the Cozy Nest has “warm and cozy” modern farmhouse décor.
Shopping also took them downtown to The Secret Ingredient. Owner Jeanne Rush says, “I felt there was a need for something unique and different. There’s always something that we hope will make you smile.” Prices vary because “we go after a look, not a price.”
Small groups can make arrangements to visit the store after hours. “We can have a little party,” Rush says. “We love entertaining our customers.”
Years ago Rush offered tea and breads in the shop but became overwhelmed by all the baking, so she created a cookbook with the recipes. Now she’s inviting customers to give her recipes—with the stories behind them and perhaps photos—for another cookbook. Down the street is O’Onda Gallery & Gifts, offering international fair trade/local artisans/products representing special causes. “Where you purchase with purpose,” says owner Melinda Wilson. “People don’t expect this in a small town.”
After several visits to Mozambique, Wilson named her shop O’Onda, which is Portuguese for wave. “With everything you purchase here, it’s like the ripples of a wave,” she says. “You’re touching lives. You’re supporting the artists, their communities, …” She encourages a global appreciation in her customers.
Ply Fiber Arts offers classes and supplies for knitting, crocheting, and weaving. Owner Samantha Purcell attended Savannah College of Art and Design for painting, took one class in the fibers department, and changed her major. She and her husband opened Ply Fiber Arts in 2013.
In 2018 the shop moved to a larger building next door and began offering workshops in a variety of mediums—natural dyes, plants, ceramics, … Pottery wheels are available. The former yarn shop has become a bike repair shop.
The Tin Cup Tea Room & Gift Shop surprises with chocolate tea. And Joy Ann Bakery has thumbprint cookies and smiley face cookies.
On U.S. 27—the Quaker Trace —Fountain Acres Amish Market offers samples aplenty: ice cream, cheeses, salads, and other items in small sample cups on the refrigerator shelves. Be aware that the market does not accept credit cards.
In Hagerstown, the place to stop is Abbott’s Candies. And the candy to get is caramels. Crafted the old-fashioned way—small batches, hand cut, hand wrapped, hand packaged. And while the huge cooking pot is stirred continually by a hand-made paddle that’s been mechanized, its molten treasure is still poured by two workers. Free tours are available with advance notice.
The first candy made when the business started in 1890 was butterscotch. It’s still available, along with chocolates, gismos, truffles, brittle, fudge. The candy company was owned by the Abbott family until 2012, when Jay and Lynn Noel bought it.
Just Us Girls dining choices are open-ended and include simple to elegant options. Among them are AJ’s Main Street Diner, Old Richmond Inn, No. 9 Grill, Little Sheba’s, Firehouse BBQ and Blues, Legends Southside Bar & Cafe.
And you can’t have a girlfriends’ getaway without some pampering. One great option is to schedule a reflexology appointment with Kristin Pettitt. Kristin provides this incredibly relaxing procedure at “Restored Retail and Wellness” located in the Historic Depot District.