Laurel Mills Store reopens

By Posted on Jul 10 2014 | By

In June, the Laurel Mills Store in Castleton reopened its doors after a four month hiatus between ownerships. Local residents couldn’t be happier.

Pete & Brenda MacMurray

Pete & Brenda MacMurray

The new owners, Pete and Brenda MacMurray, are familiar with the Piedmont region having renovated and reinvigorated the Orlean Market in Fauquier County in 2008. The serial entrepreneurs are pleased to be back in Virginia after operating a B&B and gift shop in New Bern, N.C. for the last three years.

Pete McMurray is a creative businessman with a host of successful companies on his resume’. Among his more unique ventures was the development of one of the first eCommerce businesses in the country, called PC Flowers. Created in 1989, the business sold flowers nationwide via the embryonic Internet.

Later, he shifted gears and purchased and operated a major marina located near the Outer Banks in North Carolina. His early career involved stints with IBM and Boeing Computer Services. His wife, Brenda, operated a grocery store in Manassas in the 1990s.

The energetic couple has breathed life back into the historical village store that was built in 1877. An old woolen mill next to the store manufactured confederate uniforms during the Civil War.

The MacMurrays restored the pine flooring and exposed the original brick walls to showcase goods typically found in a small grocery store. And more.

By the end of July, wine—both Virginia and international—and several craft and popular beers will be featured along with fresh sandwiches, soups and salads.

Former longtime co-owner of the store, Mary Frances Fannon, says, “I am thrilled to death to have the store back in operation.”

As are a host of unique customers.

“All the kids from Castleton Festival come in. They are really, really nice kids; musicians, singers, costume designers, and more. Who would have thought we’d have an internationally acclaimed music festival in Rappahannock County? We have people from all over the world come in the store now,” says Pete MacMurray.

And that includes local residents, many who have enjoyed successful careers elsewhere and seek the beauty and quiet of Rappahannock County as counterpoint to their busy lives.

One such legendary cohort is the “Sunday Morning Front Porch Group” that has been meeting for years at the store for coffee, pastries and banter. If one was to stumble onto this crowd, they’d be chatting with consultants, political figures, high-priced lawyers, former CEOs, and judges just to mention a few of the diverse occupations.

Long time Front Porch member Richard Viguerie says, “The Laurel Mills Store has changed but it hasn’t. You’ll find the same warm smile and friendly greeting from Brenda and Pete that we’ve grown accustomed to over the years from Mary Frances Fannon, then Marion Sharp.”

Viguerie explains that as one walks onto the front porch and up to the heavy wooden door, it looks like the mom and pop store he’s known for decades. “But when you step inside—wow—you feel as if you’ve been transported to a charming boutique shop in Greenwich Village.

“Brenda and Pete have clearly made a long term commitment to our part of beautiful Rappahannock County. I, and the other front porch regulars, welcome and thank them.”

Brenda MacMurray is doubly pleased to be co-managing the store since she is again able to visit nearby family members.

The Laurel Mills Store is opened seven days a week in the summer from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays 8 to 5 p.m.

But locals know that if an item is needed during off-hours they can, “Simply knock on the front door and we’ll let them in since we live on the second floor,” says a smiling Pete MacMurray.

Rappahannock hospitality continues in fine form with the rebirth of the Laurel Mills Store.


Published in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Rappahannock News.

Laurel Mills Store

Laurel Mills Store

Categories : HAGARTY TALES