As raindrops continued to flow last Sunday, so did curious visitors and community members at one of the biggest events in Westmoreland County this year. Capped off with a ribbon cutting by owners Don Hess and Diane Lank, the couple held their grand opening of Erica Mall in Mt. Holly.
The event was so emotional Hess stepped inside for a moment before helping his wife cut the ribbon.
“This is not our store, this is the community’s store. The community built this place with their love for us,” Hess said.
Taking the first hours in, Lank said she couldn’t help but think of her late mother Rosemary, who moved to Glebe Harbor with her late husband Murrell in the mid-1970s.
“She would’ve absolutely been blown away by all this,” Lank said.
People packed the entrance to the store and deck area trying to keep dry. Hot Dogs and cupcakes were being served along with other goodies offered by the Mt. Holly staff while pianist Trevon Jones provided music.
Inside, cash registers continued to ring as Merrill Hutt, dressed as a pirate, made barbecue sandwiches for customers.
Brothers Chris and John Strock were so excited about the opening, and returning to their hometown this weekend, they waited in line for nine orders of barbecue sandwiches.
“This area needs it, good for employment and people here. It’s just awesome,” John said.
Chris recalled walking to a previous store here to buy candy like fireballs when he and his brother were younger. They plan to stop by again.
The store received a blessing from local Pastor Michael Ramming and Reverend Bernard Thompson.
“We really needed this store. We hope God will bless it because only he can and the community will support this store,” Thompson said.
Ramming echoed similar thoughts and was excited for the owners.
“They really have what people want,” Ramming said. “I’m happy for them.”
Supervisor Rosemary Mahan joined the two guest speakers to open the store on Sunday.
“When you talk about the entrepreneurial spirit this is exactly what the Northern Neck, Westmoreland County and our heritage is about,” Mahan said.
The opening day was an even more special moment for employees Jim Ficklin, Callie Morgan and owner Jeron Hayes, of the home-based company Not Your Mother’s Cupcakes.
Morgan and Ficklin are both rising seniors at Washington & Lee High School in Montross. Erica Mall served as their first place of employment.
“It’s very nice to have a job close to home,” the two said.
Mother Laura Morgan, to Callie, was ecstatic to see her daughter working at the same corner she did as cashier when she too was a senior in high school.
“It’s so nice to have her close to home. I don’t have to worry so much about traffic, she’s coming home at a decent hour and work for really nice people that have been good to her,” Laura said.
As for the popular dessert item for the day, Hayes is appreciative that the owners would be willing to sell her product in their store after a good word from the pastor’s wife Karen Ramming. While the cupcakes have been really admired, Erica Mall is the first store to sell the delectable delights.
“It’s really been fantastic,” Hayes said, adding the opportunity has given her ideas for the future. She’s appreciative for the owners agreeing to partner with her company.
Erica Mall opened July 2 discreetly and continues to offer groceries and convenience items. The new owners also offer regular as well as non-ethanol gasoline as a service to boaters.
For more information about Erica Mall, visit www.ericamall.com or follow them on Facebook.