For just the ninth time in more than a century, and the first time in 15 years, ownership of one of the Loudoun’s iconic general stores has changed hands.
As of last week, the 105-year-old Philomont General Store, located halfway between Purcellville and Middleburg at the corner of Snickersville Turnpike and Jeb Stuart Road, is owned and operated by five-year Loudoun residents Drew and Brandi Bishop, both 35. Mark and Madeline Skinner, who bought the store in 2003, handed the keys over to the Bishops on Aug. 1 after selling the 4,800-square-foot store for nearly $800,000.
Madeline Skinner said they decided to step away from the business simply because the time was right.
“I just really believed it was time to get a whole new energy in there and sort of pass it on to the next generation,” she said. “We took it a long way in that 15 years.”
Drew Bishop said the couple’s interest in buying the store was piqued when the Skinners put it up for sale in May. After some discussion, the two decided that the purchase was perfectly in line with what they had been talking about for six months prior—an opportunity to bring a historic business or building back to life and something that would keep them anchored in Loudoun.
“It’s something we talked about for several years,” he said. “We always knew we had the desire to operate a community-based business.”
Living just down the road from their new place of business, the couple was ecstatic when they realized they could fulfill their ambitions so close to home. “We never dreamt it would be quite in our backyard,” he said.
Also, operating a general store runs in the family. Brandi’s 86-year-old grandmother still works at a general store in Drew’s hometown of Whitehall, MI. “Nine times out of 10 she’s the one behind the counter,” Drew said.
Madeline Skinner said that because she and Mark made major improvements to the store in the past 15 years—including painting, repair work and installing an HVAC system—the Bishops were presented with a turn-key operation. “I hope in any way that I can … that I will just be there if they have any questions,” she said.
The new proprietors don’t plan to make any immediate changes to the store, either. Drew Bishop said the couple is just trying to keep their heads down and work with the five employees to get a grip on how to effectively run the business. He said they would be in the store as much as possible for the time being.
“We’re not at all interested in being an owner of a business and not be here,” he said. “We’re hopeful to be doing this for a long time.”
As for the Skinners, they plan to stay in the area to continue operating their Seven Oaks Vineyard, which provides grapes for Arterra Wines in Delaplane.
Currently, visitors stopping into the store can peruse a wide selection of food, beverages and gifts. In addition to greeting cards and made-to-order sandwiches, the general store also features local and international wines, local honey, jams, teas and coffee brewed in Berryville. Customers can also find gourmet foods with the Virginia’s Finest brand, like granola, Virginia Peanuts and various baking mixes.
The Philomont General Store ranks as one of Loudoun’s oldest continuing operating businesses. It was built 1913 five years after the original Milhollen Bros. Store building located across the street was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. During World War II, the second floor of the store was used by volunteers to make bandages for wounded soldiers. The Philomont Post Office has been housed in the building since 1941 and is the last operational post office located in a general store in the county.
The store is open Monday-Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12-5 p.m.