I had heard many months ago that Richmond was getting a Southern Season store, and I was so excited to head over to check it out this past Friday. The store opened July 31 on Staples Mill Rd. near Willow Lawn, and there are festivities galore going on for the first few weeks. Of course, there are giveaway boxes throughout the store to win gift baskets, prepared meals, a Le Creuset cookware set and more. On Saturdays, the store also does tastings of various Southern and local products.
The store has a huge gourmet kitchen, where it will offer numerous cooking classes such as Perfect Pies, Biscuits 101, Perfect Pasta, a Kids in the Kitchen series for children and classes featuring local chefs, such as Virginia Is For Food Lovers: Rappahannock. Classes run from $30-50, however the store also offers the option to become a volunteer (from my understanding, essentially a prep chef and “go-fer” for class participants) and attend the class in that capacity for free. Other special events, like beer and wine events and farm-to-table dinners, are scheduled throughout the Summer and Fall. There will also be a special class given by Cut My Plastic, they will teach us easy at home decor tricks for the kitchen.
The store itself is big, open and airy, and is separated into several distinct areas. The wine and coffee bar at the front of the store offers the chance to buy a glass of wine or cup of coffee to sip as you’re shopping. Southerly Restaurant & Patio serves breakfast, weekend brunch, lunch and dinner and has desserts and kids’ options. They also prepare a $5 pancake breakfast every Saturday, and kids 7 and under eat free.
A section with cookware, tabletop and cooking accessories and implements runs the gamut from Le Creuset and gourmet cookware to artisan cutting boards to nifty little kitchen gadgets, like a sushi-making kit. Candles and home decor, including Southern-inspired items, like pillows sewn with place names and sayings from different Southern states, offer a great shopping destination for gift-giving.
A full candy section, with Jelly Belly dispensers lining the back wall and a full-service ice cream bar in the middle, made my three year-old squeal with delight (then cling to my leg in tears as we tried to leave). The wine department offers selections from around the world, as well as around the South. They did have a number of Virginia wines, but I’d definitely encourage them to widen their selection. Same with the craft beers. They had good representation from local vendors, but there could easily be a lot more there. Virginians love their homegrown wine and local craft breweries! I did notice some Viking mead from Denmark that caught my eye – I can see a purchase of that in my future when “Vikings” on the History Channel comes back for Season 3 next Spring.
The wine department is right next to the cheese department, which makes good sense for party planners. Cheeses from all over the world, as well as a full-service deli and prepared foods, make this a one-stop-shop if you’re planning an event. A bakery stocked with Southern favorites like Hummingbird Cake and Apple Galettes rounds out the fresh food options.
The bulk of the store’s products line the wire racks and shelves in the center of the store. A section of Virginia and local products showcases many vendors who will be familiar to those who receive the Virginia’s Finest catalog. Herb and spice packets containing spice mixtures and blends, file/sassafras powder for gumbo and other Southern pantry essentials are reasonably-priced and high-quality.
After a good walk around the store, I can definitely see myself heading out here to pick up specific items I might need for recipes. Southern Season is also a great gourmet shop, and I’d love to try my hand at volunteering for some of the cooking classes. Stay tuned for more coverage of happenings at Southern Season!