Category Archives: Shop Local

Rappahannock Art Leage

Shop Local Day Profile – Rappahannock Art League

Leading up to our next Shop Local Day event on Saturday, November 8, Chesapeake Bank wants to highlight some of the participating merchants throughout the region who are offering shoppers a little extra to come out and support their community businesses.


The Rappahannock Art League, founded in 1949, is the oldest and largest visual arts organization in the area. A not-for-profit organization, RAL’s home is a cooperative gallery run by volunteers. Many events take place in the gallery including monthly forums, workshops and receptions. Learn more about the Rappahannock Art League in their profile below.


Business Name:  Rappahannock Art League
Contact: Hope Towner
Contact information: Website, Facebook or by phone at 804-436-9309
Shop Local Day Deal: Enter a drawing to win a $100 Gift Certificate. May be applied to any purchase at the Studio Gallery!
Store information:  Rappahannock Art League is located at 19 North Main Street in Kilmarnock. Visit the studio Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Chesapeake Bank: It looks like RAL offers many great services to the community – from the gallery to exhibits to tours. Can you tell us more about your offerings?

Hope Towner: Rappahannock Art League Studio Gallery has many events. We produce a changing monthly show in our Exhibit Room, host monthly art forums and lectures, hold First Friday receptions, lead bus tours to nearby museums and galleries and teach adult workshops and summer workshops for kids. We welcome the general public to all of these events. In addition, the gallery provides a creative environment for our member artists to share ideas and techniques. RAL artist development groups meet regularly including the Life Drawing Group, Tuesday Painters (an informal painting group), the Photography Group and more.


CB: What does shopping local mean to you?

HT: Shopping local should be encouraged throughout our community. Supporting local businesses keeps our downtown vibrant. It is also a great way to learn about all the wonderful things our community has to offer.


CB: What service or product do people come to you most for?

HT: Everything in the Studio Gallery, including our monthly shows, is for sale. All the artwork is made by local artisans. There is so much talent in our midst!


CB: What is one of the biggest challenges you face in your business, and how are you dealing with it?

HT: As a non-profit organization, we rely heavily on our membership dues and other donations. We are constantly on the lookout for new grants and new ways to encourage contributions. The Amazing Raise has been a wonderful event to participate in (and many of our local businesses do!).


CB: How did you get started in the industry you are in? We’d love to hear any details on your business story.

HT: I got started in the non-profit business right after college. I started in the theater world. After several years in D.C., I decided to get my Masters degree at American University in the Arts Management program. Since then, I’ve worked in Tucson, San Jose and Berkeley, Calif. But I always spent my vacation time here in Kilmarnock. My parents have lived here for 30+ years, so when it was time to come home, I couldn’t think of a better fit for me than RAL. I’ve been learning a lot about the visual arts, maybe I’ll even dabble in the arts myself!


CB: You’re the only paid employee of RAL, right? Are you volunteer-run otherwise? Tell us about that.

HT: Yes, I am the only paid employee, albeit part-time. We are a cooperative, run by volunteers including our Officers and our Board of Directors. Every artist who has opted to display in the gallery is required to work three hours per month – but many members who aren’t exhibiting volunteer as well. Just as in any business, there are lots of jobs to be filled, and I’m grateful that we have such a wonderful group of dedicated members!

Paula Milsted

Our Director of Marketing, Paula Milsted, on Her Passion for Shopping Locally & Supporting “Charming Small Towns”

The blog post below is first in what will be a series of employee-written blog posts. This post is written by Paula Milsted, who serves as the director of marketing for Chesapeake Bank. She celebrated her 12th anniversary with Chesapeake Bank in April of this year. Paula lives in Warsaw with her family and works in Kilmarnock. Here, she talks about why shopping local is so important.


I grew up on a farm outside a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania not unlike the town in which I live now.  Growing up we were able to go town (meaning the small town) to get groceries, go to the drugstore, visit the dentist, shop for cards, party supplies and gifts, hang out at the local Pizza Pad and play the jukebox, rent videos next door and run to the ATM at the community bank across the street for more money to do all of those things.  We even had a movie theater in this little town.


As I grew older, the next larger town down the road started opening up Walmart, Home Depot, Giant Eagle (large grocery), Blockbuster, an AMC movie theater and more.  One by one each of the businesses mentioned above closed and have left main street looking like a scene from Stephen King’s The Stand.  Well, maybe not that bad, but you get my point.


This town had hidden charm that I hope will come back someday.  I don’t think the community fully understood the impact they were having on their town, until it became what it is today.  A community group has formed to bring this town back to the charming small PA town it once was.  I look forward to the resurgence of this little town.  It takes a lot more work to bring it back than it does to maintain.


And, that is why Shop Local Day is so important to us!!  We all live and work in charming ‘small’ towns (yes, even Williamsburg counts as a small town with all of its charm).  Shop Local Day is a way to raise awareness within our communities about the importance of preserving this charm and maintaining our livelihood, character, economic stability, product diversity and community’s well-being.


So, think about starting with your local shops when finding those groceries, that appliance part, the perfect gift, a gift certificate or a place to have lunch.  You will make a difference and can feel good about supporting your friend, neighbor, civic leader and charming community.

Karen Podd - The Poddery

Shop Local Day Profile – The Poddery

Leading up to our next Shop Local Day event on Saturday, November 8, we’re highlighting some of the participating merchants throughout the region who are offering shoppers a little extra to come out and support their community businesses.


Chances are you’ve seen the work of the Podds, whether it be at a local restaurant, a neighbor’s house, an art gallery or strolling the grounds at Monticello. Their handmade pottery – Karen and Robert Podd are owners of The Poddery in Mathews County – has a way of standing out.


For more than 40 years, the Podds have been offering unique pottery pieces out of their home/studio. A couple pieces – a cylinder-shaped dish that has proven versatile (customers have been known to bake foods, place candles, plant bulbs or pot plants in it) and a chip-and-dip platter – have been big hits: “We’ve sold thousands of them,” Karen Podd said. But the one-of-a-kind pieces, says Karen, are the cream of the crop. “As an artist, I just have to do them.”


Learn more about The Poddery in the profile below.


Business Name: The Poddery
Contacts: Karen or Robert Podd
Contact information: Website or by phone at 804.725.5956.
Shop Local Day Deal: Mention Shop Local Day and receive 10 percent off all purchases.

Store information: The Poddery is located at State Route 660, Foster, VA, 23056 (a quarter mile past the Foster post office). Visit the studio from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. seven days a week.


Chesapeake Bank: What does shopping local mean to you?

Karen Podd: It means keeping the money in the county…The domino theory: If we can keep the money in the county, it can give someone a job and promote the business and help them spend money. Considering the gas prices today, it really is more economical to shop in the county instead of getting in your car and going somewhere.


CB: What is one of the biggest challenges you face, and how are you dealing with it?

KP: One of the biggest challenges is just to get people here. We’re not in downtown Mathews. Just getting people to come and see what we do. Once we get them here, they usually buy something. Because we’re high-quality crafts, we’ve been known in the Tidewater area for the past 45 years. We’re part of Made in Mathews, 12 artists who joined together and open their studios. We also have our work in the Bay School in town and a small display of our work in the information center in town.


CB: What has been the greatest success in your business?

KP: Disney World has some of our work at their convention center in Orlando. Our garden pots are in the garden at Monticello. Berret’s restaurant in Williamsburg has numerous pieces of ours, including a 24-foot piece behind their bar. Just a general statement, nobody does what we do; nobody does the designs that we do, really unique takes on regular stuff, like fireplace fronts, kitchens and mosaic walls. That’s what we’re known for.


CB: How did you get your start?

KP: We got started because clay ceramics was one of my classes, part of my curriculum at Northern Illinois University. Robert was in the Navy at that time. The Navy brought us to the area, and I became an art teacher for the Mathews Public School System. We lived in Norfolk for about five years, and I became more and more proficient with my clay work and started entering local shows. Robert got out of the Navy, and we decided to stay in the area. By that time, studios had started to carry my work…We kept looking and looking and looking and found this old place here. I was teaching at Granby High School and teaching a lot of Granby wrestlers, who came up here on weekends and helped us gut our house and build our studio [in 1972]. We started doing art shows along the East Coast, and our work was featured in galleries in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Richmond. The rest is history: Now people come to us.


CB: How many art shows do you think you’ve done over the years?

KP: Oh, lord. I would say easily over 500.


CB: What made you take the entrepreneurial plunge?

KP: There was passion there, but we were outdoors people. We were always going to what was called at that time Seashore State Park. Most of my designs, I was really interested in nature… [Starting the business] it just seemed like the right thing to do. We always felt that if it didn’t work out, we could go back to the city and get our jobs back. And we had the support of our families. It was the right move at the right time.


CB: Do you have a favorite piece?

KP: I’m proud of a lot of the one-of-a-kind pieces that I’ve done. The ones that have given me the biggest thrill were Disney World buying a piece and doing work for Monticello. It’s a thrill when you’re looking at a garden magazine and see a picture with our pots from Monticello.


CB: How do you stay involved or give back to the community?

KP: We have always donated work for any group, the fire department, silent auction for PTAs. Also, we have donated reproduction tiles at Tompkins Cottage in the style of the 1800s. We’ve demonstrated at local events. We’ve talked to women’s groups and garden groups. We’ve always been involved with our community.

Anne Paparella

Shop Local – Meet Anne Paparella

Anne Paparella has been serving as the executive director of the Lancaster by the Bay Chamber since the spring of 2014. A previous small business owner who participated in Shop Local Day as a merchant, Paparella has a great perspective on the importance of shopping local.


Chesapeake Bank: What is your role with the Chamber? How long have you been there and are there any facts about the Lancaster Chamber you would like to share?

Paparella: I am the executive director of the Lancaster by the Bay Chamber of Commerce. I started working for the Lancaster Chamber this spring. I have lived and raised four children in this county for the last 22 years. The Lancaster by the Bay Chamber has about 245 members and is growing. We have several events we put on each year from RiverRide, a bicycling event, to Taste by the Bay, a food, wine, craft beer and artisan event at the Tides Inn, and The Parade of Homes, showcasing our local builders. We host Kandy for Kids, a trick or treating event, and the Lighted Christmas Parade is in its 36th year. It is a very active chamber of commerce!



Chesapeake Bank: From your experience in small business as well as your current work with the Chamber, I’m sure you have some perspective on the impact shopping locally has on businesses and the overall community. Why do you think shopping local is important?

Paparella: I have worked in retail most of my working career. I co-owned a gift shop call The Box Boutique in White Stone. We called ourselves a hardware store for women with all kinds of girly gifts including lingerie, pajamas, and purses. If it was fun and funky, you could find it at The Box. We also specialized in affordable gifts. I loved every bit of it, from the buying to the display. I especially loved the interaction with our customers. Often, our customers would just stop by to have a conversation or tell us something that was exciting or sad in their lives. We were a gathering place for people. Most of my customers became my good friends.


I definitely understand the impact of shopping local. The summer months, in this area especially, are filled with visitors and river guests, but the spring and winters can be very quiet. I think the Shop Local campaign reminds people how important it is to shop local businesses first before you go out of town. Being a small business owner is challenging. It is not enough to have cute things or great food, you had to have great displays and great customer service. Quite often one person has to do it all for their business. The Shop Local campaign helps you to realize you are not in it alone.



Chesapeake Bank: What kind of impact has the Shop Local initiative had in the Lancaster community and on the Chamber? Do you think it has helped generate more awareness and support for local businesses? Do you see more local businesses working together and supporting each other? 

Paparella: I definitely think you have the merchants working together. Often the merchants will direct their customers to other businesses to help them find what they are looking for. I have, as chamber director and a business owner, been part of discussions with other merchants to generate ideas on how to create excitement and bring more business to the area.


I love that my job allows me to promote businesses in this area. The more unusual shops we have the more attractive the area becomes for visitors. We have such a unique shopping and dining culture here; adorable boutiques and gourmet restaurants. There is something for everyone in this small area. I am grateful that Chesapeake Bank has promoted this shop local campaign. I think it shows the businesses that they are not alone. We are fortunate to have local banks that are so invested and care so much about this area.


The Velvet Rocker

Shop Local Day Profile – The Velvet Rocker

Leading up to our next Shop Local Day event on Saturday, November 8, we’re highlighting some of the participating merchants throughout the region who are offering shoppers a little extra to come out and support their community businesses.


The Velvet Rocker, a home goods store that focuses on re-imagined home décor, is a dream turned reality for Williamsburg Shop Owner Laura Tayman.


With a background that includes nearly 30 years as a criminal prosecutor, her day-to-day is much different now that she spends her time interacting with clients and helping them update their homes. Tayman has turned a creative hobby into a vibrant local business. Learn more about The Velvet Rocker in the profile below.


Business Name:  The Velvet Rocker
Contact: Laura Tayman
Contact information: Website, Facebook or by phone at 757-208-0300.
Shop Local Day Deal: Mention Shop Local Day and receive a 20% discount on a Paint Workshop or home decor item of your choice. Paint demonstrations and refreshments will be available throughout the day!
Store information: The Velvet Rocker is located at 5525 Olde Towne Road in Williamsburg, Va. Visit the shop Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Monday and Sunday by appointment.


Chesapeake Bank: What does shopping local mean to you?

Tayman: Before opening The Velvet Rocker, I enjoyed shopping at locally-owned shops because of the warm atmosphere, the chance to enjoy unique and original inventory and to visit with shop owners that had become friends. It was always a pleasure to enter a shop and be welcomed by the owners, who often made the effort to remember my name.


Since opening The Velvet Rocker, shopping local means all of the above and more. I am now the shop owner that has the joy of getting to know her clients and update their homes while getting in touch with their creative side. I love welcoming clients into the shop and helping them select paint and finishing products to update their home décor.


Ensuring that local revenue stays local plays an important role in building a strong financial community. It is a way of investing in our local economy and helping to keep the local community strong. I hope people understand that supporting local businesses allows local residents to engage in a business they feel passionate about. It really is about helping local residents to achieve their dreams.


Chesapeake Bank: What is one of the biggest challenges you face, and how are you dealing with it?

Tayman: Because The Velvet Rocker is so different from a typical retail store, one of the biggest challenges we’ve faced is finding a way to communicate to local residents what we offer. We’ve tried to develop a website and Facebook page that can explain our unique products and services. We’ve also begun advertising, but it is challenging to explain in a short advertisement the unique properties of our two paint lines, opportunities for creative paint workshops, and our unique home décor.


Chesapeake Bank: How did you get started in the industry you are in? We’d love to hear any details on your business story. 

Tayman: My first career as a federal criminal prosecutor could not have been more different from my second career with The Velvet Rocker. The concept for The Velvet Rocker was born out of an attorney’s desire to turn a creative hobby that she was passionate about into a vibrant local business. I’ve painted and refinished furniture for years as a hobby.


Chesapeake Bank: It looks like there are some great things offered at The Velvet Rocker that might not be available at other places. Can you tell us about them? 

Tayman: At The Velvet Rocker we carry American Paint Company’s all natural clay/chalk paints and finishing products that allow clients to paint furniture and home décor without any sanding or priming. We also carry the award-winning General Finishes milk paints and finishing products. All of our paints require no sanding or priming, and can be used over existing wood finishes, but also on laminate, metal, plastic, glass, and fabric. The paints that we carry are not available anywhere else in the Greater Williamsburg community. We’ve also made the effort to bring in other unique home décor items. For example, we are thrilled to carry a line of high quality aromatherapy candles that are hand-poured in Ohio.


Chesapeake Bank: We see you do upcycling. Can you explain that to us?

Tayman: The process of restoring furniture is often called “upcycling.” It’s a concept that is taking root in larger communities and slowly spreading. Much of the older furniture here in Williamsburg is good quality, solid wood furniture. It is a shame for this furniture to land in landfills because it is dated. Painted furniture is the new style; often referred to as ‘Pottery Barn inspired.’ Because the paints are so easy to use, they are a great alternative to stripping and sanding old furniture. Plus, the furniture can be painted in your favorite current color so it blends with your personal style and complements your existing décor. It is a great way to update and freshen up, hence our slogan, “re-imagined home décor.”


Chesapeake Bank: How do you stay involved/give bank to your local community?

Tayman: One of the things I enjoy most about being a new locally-owned business is giving back to the community. We are engaged with Habitat for Humanity, Hospice House and Housing Partnerships, Inc. Williamsburg’s thriving philanthropic community was one of the things that motivated us to open a small business. We know Williamsburg is a place where people understand the importance of supporting the local economy.


[Photo credit: Jim Goodridge of JPG Portraits]

Gloucester Chamber of Commerce

Shop Local – Meet Makalia Records

Makalia Records, who has served as executive director of the Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce for nearly five years, weighs in on shopping locally.


Chesapeake Bank: Why do you think shopping local is important?

Records: I can think of a handful of reasons:

  • Locally owned businesses build strong communities by working together towards a common goal. Relationships are built and these members contribute to local causes.
  • Keeping dollars in the local economy recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy. Local businesses are more likely to purchase from other local businesses. This impact results in the local tax base growing.
  • Entrepreneurship ignites Americans’ economic innovation and prosperity while helping the middle class into better paying jobs.
  • Business owners select products based on their own interests and the needs of local customers and create more choices for local customers. They offer unique options because they provide products and services from local artisans and craftsmen.
  • Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live, work and play within their own community.
  • Creates local jobs, cutting back on commuting times and benefits the families. You don’t have to shop local all the time to make an impact in your community. Just remember getting in the mindset of shopping and doing business locally will improve your community two-fold.

Chesapeake Bank: What kind of impact has the Shop Local initiative had in the Gloucester community?
Records: The impact has been measurable. We know when “The Buck Stays Here” initiative was introduced with the first Shop Local Day event in September 2012, 45 businesses in Gloucester participated; double that amount are participating now.


Chesapeake Bank: Do you think it has helped generate more awareness and support for local businesses?

Records: It has definitely created awareness for local patrons and business owners. As a Chamber, we know it has directly impacted the community. As Chesapeake Bank has gained new customers, we have gained new members. We believe 100 percent that achievements can be made in a partnership far easier than going at a project alone. We are so gracious to Chesapeake Bank for allowing us to work with them and local business owners in making the importance of “shopping local” a priority!

Save the Date

Shop Local Day Returns Nov. 8

Mark your calendars – Shop Local Day makes its return Nov. 8.


It’s hard to believe this is our fifth Shop Local Day since launching the campaign in the fall of 2012. And it’s been inspiring to see the growth in support of local businesses in the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Greater Williamsburg over the years – more than 350 local businesses participated in May’s Shop Local Day, up by about 50 merchants from the previous year.


Chesapeake Bank again is partnering with area chambers of commerce and local businesses on this special day to remind shoppers that shopping locally not only can save money, but it also ensures “The Buck Stays Here,” meaning our dollars stay in our community and create a stronger local economy.


Be sure to check back often to view the growing list of merchant offers in the online directory. Merchant registration is now open and will continue through November 5, 2014.


Irvington Farmers Market

Home Grown – Fans of Local Farmers Markets Span Far and Wide

Did you know August 3-9 is Virginia Farmers’ Market Week? It’s good timing, too – some of our backyard farmers markets are getting recognition across the state – and nation.


Virginia Living magazine readers selected the Irvington Farmers Market as the best farmers market on Virginia’s East Coast earlier this year.


What’s not to love? Not only do they feature more than 100 vendors – crafts, jewelry, artwork, furniture, meats, seafood, soaps, clothing, you name it – but it also hosts musicians and provides fun for the whole family.  Normally, the market runs the first Saturday of each month from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (98 King Carter Drive).  However, there are two dates in August: Aug. 2 and Aug. 30 (Labor Day weekend). The Meadow Street Band, based in Richmond, Va. is scheduled to appear on Aug. 2.  To receive a list of vendors, email You can also find updates on the market’s Facebook page.


The Williamsburg Farmers Market  is currently a top contender in the national America’s Favorite Market contest, currently ranking 1st nationally and 1st in Virginia with the opportunity to regain the title of American’s Favorite Market, which they last held in 2009.  We’re not surprised – whether you’re looking for pickles, flowers, produce or chocolates – the vendors at Williamsburg Farmers Market offer all that and (much) more. The next market is scheduled for Aug. 2 from 8 a.m. – 12 p.m. and will be held rain or shine. The latest news on the market can be found on the Facebook page.


We’re proud our area Farmers Markets are getting such terrific recognition! You can vote for Williamsburg Farmers Market and Irvington Farmers Market – or any of your other favorite local markets here. The contest ends September 13, 2014 – but thankfully, by choosing to shop local, there is opportunity to support these great markets year-round!

Farmers Market

Eat Fresh – and Local – This Summer

Summer is here, which often means eating out (hopefully at one of our many terrific local eateries!).


Another great way to support our local economy is by stopping by one of our local farmers markets to combine the splurge of dining out with a nice home-cooked meal. It’s also a great way to connect with your community while enjoying the freshest flavors of the season.


How does fresh flounder fillets or crab cakes from VA Blue Crab Co. of Hayes and fresh fruits and vegetables from Ware Neck Produce in Gloucester sound? Maybe cap it off with a pecan, blackberry or key lime pie from Jamestown Pie Company of Williamsburg?


Here are some local farmers markets you should consider sampling:


And if you’re traveling around the state this summer, keep this link handy for Virginia farmers markets courtesy of the Virginia Tourism Commission.


Happy eating!

gift card winner photo

Survey Says: Miller is the Winner

Congratulations are in order for Fred Miller, the owner of Prince George Art & Frame.


Miller (pictured above on the left with Chesapeake Bank Assistant Vice President/Branch Manager Sam Poole) is the winner of a drawing of those who answered our Shop Local Day survey last month and recipient of a $100 Visa gift card, to be spent locally, of course.


Miller has been photographing historic Williamsburg since he was a kid. In fact, some of his scenic views of Williamsburg can be found in personal and corporate collections around the state and beyond. Prince George Art & Frame, which opened in 1980 and is located in the Colony Square shopping center near the intersection of Jamestown Road and Humelsine Parkway, is a fine art gallery and custom framing shop that features some of Miller’s work and original artwork of talented local and regional artists.


Thanks to everyone who took the time to respond to our survey. Your input is helpful in improving our Shop Local initiative that promotes supporting locally owned and operated businesses.


Speaking of which, save the date: Our next Shop Local Day will be Saturday, Nov. 8.