Small Business Week: Finley's General Store aims to become 'town center' for Carrollton

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Posted at 7:06 AM, May 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 09:08:05-04

ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. - When you drive down Route 17 in Isle of Wight County's Carrollton area, keep an eye out for the old barn with 'CIGARETTES' written on the side.

Right next door you'll find Finley's General Store. It doesn't sell cigarettes, but it has just about everything else.

"We have gifts for everyone in the family, including baked goods, pillows, clothes, stuffed animals, salsas, jellies, dog treats, towels, peanuts, candy, and pretty much everything you can think of!," reads the store's website.

And much of what's inside is made locally -- at the very least in Virginia.

It all leads back to owner Cheryl Finley Ketcham, who ran the Smithfield Farmers Market for seven years, through which she got to know local vendors.

She opened Finley's in Smithfield four years ago as a way to showcase and sell their products more than one day a week, but quickly outgrew her small space.

In 2019, Ketcham opened Finley's in its current location in Carrollton.

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"We were closed for a while (during COVID) but then we opened up and we opened up safely and it gave people something to do. When everything else was closed they could come in here, they could run into their neighbors, their friends. It's not just a shopping trip, it's a whole community experience," Ketcham told News 3.

The store is packed full with unique products. Everywhere you look inside, you'll find a quirky sign or a funny pair of socks or old fashioned candy.

Ketcham says she's already looking to add more space, with a plan to expand her building and turn the 'CIGARETTE' barn, which she also owns, into a cafe.

"We're really hoping that over time we can create that town center feeling where people can say this is ours, this is Carrollton," she said. "Hopefully be able to paint the barn and say 'CARROLLTON' instead of 'CIGARETTES' so they know this is Carrollton."

A gathering place where customers not only find the local products they're looking for, but a real sense of community.