Largest Wine selection in Clarke County
2049 Millwood Rd, Millwood, VA 22646
- American restaurant
- Great gourmet take home meal
Tuesday – Friday 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Saturday – Sunday 9:00AM – 5:00PM
Locke Store is located in the small village of Millwood, Virginia just off of Route 50 in Clarke County. Locke “Modern Country” Store provides a variety of quality goods for their customers. Whenever possible they offer exceptional local and regional products, supporting our neighbors in sustainable agriculture and cottage industry. They are increasingly intent on providing their customers with every opportunity to purchase the best products that our richly agrarian region has to offer.
Locke Store house-made, take-out foods reflect a commitment to using the finest and freshest ingredients available, and are prepared daily with creative flair.
Meet the Owner – Juliet MacKay Smith
Locke Store has a long, rich history. Can you share a bit of the store’s legacy with us?
“The store was built in 1836 and has been a working store and community gathering place ever since. I am only the 7th proprietor, as my predecessors Phil & Oppie Cunningham kept store here for 54 years.
They were more or less an institution around here, and they had many stories to tell…Jackie O. was a frequent customer – they said that she always took her (iconic) sunglasses off before she came inside, and could be found leaning against the old ice cream chest (that we still have here in the store) checking out the tabloids…
There was an incident, I believe in the 1950’s, when a rowdy and intoxicated local rode his horse right through the front door! That was also the era of full branches of bananas hanging on the front porch and live chickens in the back coop (which is now the office) – now that’s fresh & local!”
Going national with an iced tea label…
You’ve gone regional with your own iced tea label – Wizzie’s Tea. We know it is a family recipe. What inspired its unique flavor and why did you decide to take it on the road?
“My mother first got this recipe from a neighbor where I grew up in Unionville, Pennsylvania. There was a spring in our back yard where mint grew in profusion…so the secret to the unique flavor in our lemon-mint tea is the fresh mint- in perfect balance with the black tea, lemon and cane sugar. In the early days my mother made the tea for the store, and its popularity grew so rapidly that we had to expand production. We are currently marketing to other small specialty stores in locations throughout Virginia, and are looking to expand even further as the Wizzie’s following grows.”
Wines and Foods…
Can you tell us a bit about your superior wine selection?
“The wine selection reflects my intersection with the world of wine since I opened the store in its current incarnation 16 years ago. I’ve been tutored by many knowledgeable vendors who have shared innumerable wines and stories with me over the years. I have also been extremely fortunate to have traveled to historic wine producing countries in Europe and experienced the vineyards, wines, and producers first-hand.
What you see on the shelves in the store is a revolving (and evolving) inventory of the relatively small percentage of wines that make the cut. Given the limited amount of space we have, it is always a balancing act to curate a selection that represents a wide array of price points and flavor profiles. We have a substantial section of superior wines from Virginia – I continue to be excited and delighted about the quality of the wines, and the dedication & talent of our local producers. Our in-store wine tastings every Saturday and Sunday provide the perfect opportunity to “try before you buy”, just like I do!”
We know many of the ingredients for your house made goods are locally sourced. Can you tell us why this is so important to you, why you are so steadfast in this commitment to local?
“When I first moved to Clarke County 25 years ago, I got together with a few other folks who were interested in promoting locally produced food, and we started (the still operating!) Berryville Farmer’s Market. That was also the era of raising children, chickens, pigs & vegetables – of putting up hundreds of quarts of food and feasting on everything we’d grown all winter long.
As Wendell Berry famously said “eating is an agricultural act”. The extent to which we can reflect and honor that concept is the truest measure of our success – it implies not only a conscious connection to the land and animals, but also a respect for those who work hard to bring the amazing fruits of their labor to our doorstep. This approach often requires more time and consideration; managing resources is also high on my list of imperatives, and it informs every decision we make at Locke Store.
Just as our local producers are mindful of their growing process, we take great care in choosing the products we put on our shelves, as well as in preparing the food our customers take out our door. Although everything we offer is not locally grown, we do strive to adhere to our motto “ REAL GOOD FOOD is GOOD REAL FOOD”!
A modern country store…
How did you come to own the Locke Store? What drew you to it? What is your mission with this modern country store?
“When I was 8 & 9 years old I spent the summers at my grandmother’s farm in White Post. After a hot day in the barnyard, we would often go to Locke Store (then Locke & Co.) for an ice cream – it was a welcome haven in the midst of the seemingly vast Virginia countryside. When I moved to Clarke Country in 1989, and had children of my own, I reacquainted myself with the store when we’d stop in for treats after school.
With my background in catering, I envisioned someday opening a market/eatery & catering business, combining my passion for locally sourced products with my culinary skills. The “perfect storm” arrived in 2002, when Phil & Oppie decided to retire, and I was poised to tackle the project. It’s been a bit of a “jet ski” ride – full throttle, with plenty of bumps along the way – but my vision of weaving the past and the present together, while remaining a community hub, came to fruition.
We have so many loyal and grateful customers and visitors alike, who remind us every day that our mission is meaningful and on-target. The “modern country” logo is from 50 year old letterhead that I found in the store when we were renovating – it’s as applicable today as it was back then. It may sound a little corny, but this little store truly has an inherent spirit and a life of its own (I believe they call it “juju”) – you can feel it when you walk in the door…”
What is your favorite Locke Store sandwich? What is the “ready-to-take-home” dinner we all should try? And, the dessert or baked good that we should never pass on?
“Why must I choose? If I HAVE to narrow it down, my choice right now would be our BLT or Caprese. The local tomatoes are just starting to roll in and I can never get enough of them! – add to that Niman Ranch bacon and garden greens, or locally made mozzarella and fresh basil, and of all my senses are satisfied! Head chef Mindy Biddle’s Chicken (Crack) Pot Pie is legendary. Customers come from miles (and miles) away, some with their coolers in tow, to stock up on her version of this perennial comfort food – it’s her now famous crust that keeps them coming back.”
What is the question we should have asked but didn’t?
“How are your adrenaline reserves holding up? I was just a LITTLE bit naïve when I opened the doors 16 years ago – with no experience in either retail or business. The learning curve has been steep, and even precipitous at times, but I have managed to parlay the thousands (millions?) of hours spent and invested in this growing business into a going concern. Without the talent and unflagging dedication of so many collaborators, past and present, this store would not be the phenomenal place it is today. Our current team (some of whom have been with me 12+ years!!) is humming along in unparalleled harmony, like a well-oiled machine…I think I feel a little rush of adrenaline coming back into my veins!”