Monday, July 25, 2011


CARVERS       153 College Avenue

Gillies restaurant, currently at the corner of College and Draper, was once two different shops.  On the very corner was Dickerson's Jewelry and just to the left of that was Carver's Inc.  This was the space where Gillies first got started and sold their delicious ice cream.  They were both addressed as 153 College Avenue.

Carver's was the kind of place that college students browsed through quickly, or peered through the window at the displays of high end stereo equipment.  They sold Marantz amps and receivers, which was pretty snazzy stuff back then, as well as Fisher, Panasonic and other equivalent systems.  They sold anything related to component stereos but most of it was out of reach of a college student's pocket book.

Still it was cool having such a nice store right in downtown.  Globe records also sold stereo hi-fi equipment, and after Gillies moved in to Carver's space other places opened in town.  Personally, I'm sad that the small hi-fi shop seems to be a thing of the past.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hop In

Like breeding bunnies, the Hop In stores started popping up all over the New River Valley in the 1970's.  There were two in Blacksburg  -  one at the far south end of town past Gables (1704 South Main to be exact) and another at 409 Draper Road (across from what was then Blacksburg Lumber, but now is the town Library).

I probably bought more beer and cigarettes (Camel filters in the brown & white pack) from Hop In than anywhere else in town.

It's funny how little 7-11 wannabes like this come and go as the decades pass.  This was a great little store, it makes you wonder why they folded.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

University Mall

I guess Blacksburgers felt like they were "movin' on up" when the University Mall opened up in the Summer of 1974. Before that the primary shopping area was on the south end of town at Gables.

The site had been a bucolic farmer's field with contented cows who did nothing but graze all day long.  An apartment complex then known as Greenfield Plantation on Broce Drive was at the far end of the field near Rt. 460.  About the time that the new mall appeared, this changed to Sturbridge Square.

On the Sturbridge end was the new Kroger grocery store, and a short time later Macados first restaurant was attached to the right of Kroger.  On the opposite end, facing Prices Fork Road, was the Rustler Steak House.

The University Mall itself was anchored on the far left by a giant Woolco department store, and in the first year the following stores became a part of this shopping mecca -

Brown's Hall of Cards                     Printer's Ink
Mousetrap                                        Ritz Camera
John Norman's                                 H & M Shoes
Back Street                                      Collector's Corner
People's Drug                                   Heironimus
People's Federal Savings              First Virginia Bank of the SW
Jack and Jill                                     Grassroots
Sidney's                                           Country Legend
Jewelry Store                                 Terrarium

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Gas Crisis

 In 1974 the lines at the gas pumps just kept getting longer and longer thanks to good old OPEC.  Gasoline was rationed and service stations often ran out entirely.  In many cases you couldn't buy gasoline if your gas gauge read more than half full.

Eventually Virginia adopted an odd-even system based on the day of the week and your license plate number.  People whose last plate number was even could buy gas on even numbered days.  I'd almost welcome that back if the prices could be the same today ..... under a dollar per gallon.

This newspaper ad (above) appear in the Blacksburg Sun around that same time period, sponsored by Appalachian Power and espousing the use of coal as "the answer" to foreign oil dependency.  Imagine that.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Band Box

The Band Box   -   131 College Avenue

In the early 70's the Band Box was one of several record stores downtown with the typical open bin style of LP sorting where you just stood there flipping one after another until you got to the one you wanted.  Of course they were catagorized !

Located next to Little Doc's on College Avenue, the Band Box had the advantage of being the closest one to campus if only by a few yards .... and, like a bunch of other places in those early days, also sold "head" gear such as pipes and roach clips.  They may have even sold underground comics too, I just can't recall for sure.

Don't remember exactly when they went out of business, but I do remember buying plenty of vinyl there .... especially when they were in the midst of pricing wars with Books Strings & Things and Globe Records.

Note that the Grand Funk Railroad poster is advertising their appearance at the Salem Civic Center on December 4, 1970.  

Friday, July 1, 2011


It was so nice having a small department store downtown in the 1970's.  Roses filled the bill when it came to replenishing the stock in your apartment, house, or dorm room .... from shampoo to frying pans, lamps to welcome mats, all the basic necessities were there.  Malls were all the rage as the decade moved forward, but it was a shame that these types of stores had to suffer as a result.  I'd still shop there today if it were back again.

Today the building is known as the Town Centre, directly across from the downtown Post Office, and houses a variety of smaller stores.  The photo shows another example of cars being able to park right on Main Street.  I miss that too !!!!