Staunton Stories

Staunton Stories is a collaboration between the SDDA and 106.3 WQSV. Each Thursday evening at 6p.m., WQSV will stream an interview between Greg Beam, SDDA Executive Director, and a local business owner or community member. These are the voices of the folks who contribute to our vibrant and unique downtown community, and we’ll hear their stories, strategies, and goals for the future. Below is a listing of past interviews, and links to their respective episodes. 

Ep. 21 - John Matheny

John’s bio is coming soon!

Ep. 20 - Molly Murphy

Molly’s bio is coming soon!

Ep. 19 - Sandi Cararo

Sandi’s bio is coming soon!

Ep. 18 - Justine Juart Lunsford

Justine’s bio is coming soon!

Ep. 17 - Pamela McCray

Pamela’s bio is coming soon!

Ep. 16 - Jonathan Wright

Jonathan Wright in the owner of REDBEARD BREWING COMPANY which is located at 120 S. Lewis Street in the historic Wharf district of downtown Staunton. Jon was born in Washington DC and was raised in northern VA and the Shenandoah Valley. Having lived in Staunton on and off over the years. In addition to owning/operating Redbeard, Jon shares that he has had a lifelong relationship with ShenanArts, starting as a teenager and continues to support the non-profit theatre organization today.

Ep. 15 - Jessica Sawyers

Jessica Sawyers in the owner of MILL STREET BODY & SOUL DAY SPA & SALON, located in the historic Wharf district of downtown Staunton. Jessica was born and raised in Staunton where she graduated from Robert E. Lee High School and later received her associate degree from Blue Ridge Community College in Auto Body Mechanics. In addition to owning the spa and salon, Jessica has also been a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant for over 20 years. Being a volunteer in the community has always been a passion of Jessica’s as she has shared her time with numerous nonprofits in our community. Jessica currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Staunton Downtown Development Association (SDDA) as the Board President and Chair of the Promotions Committee.

Ep. 14 - John Reese

Don’t miss our next #stauntonstories, with Mr. John Reese, owner of Yelping Dog Wine and CFO Trading Company, both of which are located on Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.

Born in a small town in Oklahoma, John played sports through high school before attending college in Arizona on a full baseball scholarship before finishing out his education at Texas Tech University. Before becoming a small business owner and entrepreneur with his wife Nancy, John spent 40 years in “big box” retail. Starting out a buyer and moving up through various positions, by his retirement he was overseeing 90 stores. John shares that even though he owns a wine bar, he doesn’t really drink wine—he’s more of a bourbon kinda guy. What we know about John is that he most certainly has a “glass is half full” outlook! A positive, kind hearted business owner, neighbor and advocate of our beautiful downtown and community. We hope you enjoy this conversation!

Ep. 13 - Sherrie Brown

Don’t miss our next #stauntonstories, with Mrs. Sherrie Brown, owner of Essentially Zen Shop, which is located at 29 Byers Street, (Second Floor) in this historic Wharf District in downtown Staunton.

Sherrie was born in East Tennessee, however shares that she grew up “backstage’ in the 1970/s1980s, while her mom was working as a concert promoter in Atlanta, Georgia. Meeting “Rock Stars” was an everyday thing to Sherrie, though she didn’t realize how special that was until she was older. As an adult, Sherrie worked in the restaurant & hospitality industry for 28 years and in 2007 she reconnected with “the one that go away” on MYSPACE, (yes, you remember MYSPACE) which led to a move to Virginia in 2008 to be with Rob, that special fella that she later married in 2016. Sherrie’s hobbies include kayaking and enjoying time Rob and their three dogs.

Ep. 12 - Robin von Seldeneck

Don’t miss our next Staunton Stories, with Ms. Robin Wilson von Seldeneck, President & CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum which is located 20 N. Coalter Street in downtown Staunton. Robin shared that she traded life on a rural dairy farm for the big city of Staunton in 1988 when she decided to attend what was then known as Mary Baldwin College. Thinking she would escape from Staunton after graduation, she instead fell in love with the Queen City- and her husband- and happily resides here with a pretty cool rescue pup named Ruby. Passionate about education, Robin has spent time working at Mary Baldwin, Blue Ridge Community College, James Madison University and Stuart Hall School. In her free time, she loves gardening, reading and socializing in one of Staunton’s many outstanding restaurants.

Ep. 11 - Tarrod Dobbins

Tarrod is the owner of Father & Sons Barbershop, which is located at 115 Greenville Avenue in downtown Staunton.
Tarrod has been cutting hair for over 26 years and is a licensed master in 4 states. Tarrod and his family arrived in Staunton in 2014 and he opened his business a year later. Tarrod has shared that his favorite part of owning his own business is talking to and getting to know his customers. He enjoys the conversations and helping to get folks to smile. Advice to young people who want to one day own their own business? Tarrod suggests “know what you want” and “take the time to learn the ropes.” Tune in to learn more about Tarrod, his story and his plans for the future.

Ep. 10 - Jim Call

Jim is the owner of Queen City Photography, which is located in this historic Wharf District in downtown Staunton.
Jim grew up in Dillwyn, Virginia where he spent his youth as a boy scout and later an Eagle Scout. Following high school graduation in 1992, Jim joined the Marines and served for seven years, during which time he lived in California, Japan and North Carolina. In 2008 purchased a camera and had his first paid gig as a photographer a child’s 1st birthday party, which later led to officially starting his photography business in 2010.

Ep. 9 - Sarah Skrobis

Ms. Sarah Skrobis has been a librarian for fifteen years and is the current Director of the Staunton Public Library. Originally from Wisconsin, Sarah moved south to join AmeriCorps and build houses with Habitat for Humanity. It was while she was working alongside low-income families that she committed herself to a career in public service and enrolled in a Master’s of Library and Information Science program.
When she’s not at the library, Sarah can be found working on her farm, dreaming of her next travel adventure, and – of course – reading.

Ep. 8 - Janie Ballurio

Ms. Janie Ballurio has certainly worn many hats over the years and many folks may know her from the numerous roles she played both on and off stage! Janie grew up in Hew Holland, Pennsylvania. Janie later met her husband, Jack while they were attending Bridgewater College. Remember the Bookstack? Janie and her business partner opened The Bookstack in 1978 at the Plaza (the Staunton Mall) before moving the business in 1983 to 1 East Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.
What was it like owning a bookstore in downtown in the 1980’s and 90’s? What were some of Janie’s favorite roles she played on stage? Who was Abner the Mouse and most importantly, what’s the next chapter for Janie Ballurio?

Ep. 7 - Wavley Groves

Mr. Wavley M Groves III, owner of EccoHollow Art and Sound grew up playing guitar and trumpet and tinkering with electronics. As a teenager, Wavley was a part of several punk bands around Norfolk and Virginia Beach. In his 20s, Wavley worked in record stores, guitar shops, and played in some awesome indie rock bands, and music venues. Years later, while recovering from a car accident, Wavley used this time to go back to school to study electronics engineering which later landed him a job at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s Central Development Laboratory’s Low Noise Amplifier Lab (yea…say that three times fast!) as he completed a degree in electronics. Wavley started EccoHollow Art + Sound part-time in 2015. It was when he was awarded an SDDA Brite Rewired grant in 2019 that he left science to go full time with his business.
Are you into music, bands, instruments, engineering, science and extremely powerful telescopes? If you said yes, make sure to tune in for this conversation with Wavley Groves.

Ep. 6 - Sarah Butterfield

Don’t miss our next Staunton Stories, with Ms. Sarah Butterfield. Sarah and her husband, Brian own Blue Mountain Coffees which was located on Byers Street in historic Wharf district of downtown Staunton. 

Listen as Sarah shares her stories of growing up in
Mechanicsville, VA and also the decision to later move to Staunton in 1997,
when she and her husband Brian purchased Blue Mountain Coffees. Sarah shares her thoughts and lessons learned from being a small business owner—how the business grew over the years, the importance of being “a third place”, being consistent with customer service and why it’s more than just a cup of coffee.

How did Sarah choose to react to business challenges over the years–which included pivoting during a pandemic and responding to devastating floods?   

Ep. 5 - Katie Campbell Spurlock

Katie Campbell Spurlock is the owner of the historic H.L. Lang Jewelers—located at 11 West Beverley Street in downtown Staunton.

Katie has lived in the area since 1971. When she was two years old her family moved from North Carolina to Augusta County, when her father has the opportunity to serve as manager of Scott & Stringfellow in Staunton—which he did for thirty years.

After attending Beverley Manor Elementary and Stuart Hall School, Katie lived in Richmond where she studied psychology and art at VCU. It wasn’t long after returning to Staunton in 2000, that Katie discovered her interest and talents in hand engraving. This is what led her closer to her next move in 2015 when Katie purchased H.L. Lang Jewelers—which has been operating since 1885. Katie shares that purchasing Lang’s was one of the easiest and most exciting decisions she has ever made.

Ep. 4 - Gonzalo Accame

Before arriving in Staunton and becoming known as “The Chicken Man”, Gonzalo Accame, owner/operator of Gonzo’s Pollo was known as a national and international bilingual producer and cameraman.

He has produced and shot for diverse clients including PBS, Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, ESPN, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, BBC, PGA Productions, NFL Productions and NFL Films, Discovery and Discovery Latin America, The Learning Channel, The History Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, and the Jim Henson Heritage Foundation to name a few.

Gonzalo has had the opportunity to work with such personalities as Mother Teresa, Dan Rather, Larry King, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Dole, Michelle Obama, Ted Koppel, Isaiah Washington, Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Pope John Paul II, Barbra Streisand, Roger Daltrey and Peter Townsend of the Who, Stephen Colbert, Robin Leach, Dolly Parton, General Colin Powell, Jim Henson and six U.S. Presidents. Who was the MOST memorable?

Ep. 3 - Damon Strickland

Damon Strickland is the General Manager for Crestline Hotels & Resorts at Staunton’s Hotel 24 South. Before arriving in Staunton, Damon, (a graduate of the Hospitality & Tourism Management Program at Virginia Tech) held General Management and Operations Management positions with brands such as Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Marriott and InterContinental Hotels Group. During his career he has assisted in the opening of 8 hotels and resorts across the country with several earning AAA 5 Diamond awards within the first year of operation.

Ep. 2 - Sabrina Burress

Sabrina Burress, a Staunton native and mother of two sons, in the Executive Director and co-founder of ARROW Project, a Staunton based nonprofit agency providing accessible mental health services throughout our local community. Sabrina has dual master’s degrees one in Human Services and one in Clinical Medial Health Counseling. She has worked in various roles in the mental health and human services field over the past 15 years. Sabrina attributes her own mental health journey to her passion and determination in the work that she currently does in the community. Sabrina has raised two sons here and recognizes them as a beacon—a lighthouse in the midst of storms, rainbows of hope and inspiration.

Ep. 1 - Sarah Lynch

Sarah Lynch was transplanted from Los Angeles, California to a spooky Hessian house in Greenville, Virginia at the age of 8. After Riverheads High School, she attended the University of Virginia to study Biology and Psychology, vowing never to return to rural Virginia—but in 1998 she come home to open Baja Bean Restaurant y Cantina in downtown Staunton.
Sarah loves her home and is a proud ambassador for the City of Staunton. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, Staunton Tourism Advisory Board and Staunton Downtown Development Association. She is founder and organizer of Queen City Mischief & Magic, a three-day, all volunteer Harry Potter fan festival attracting 15,000 plus muggles and wizards each year. When Sarah isn’t Jazzercising, running Baja or planning a festival, she is happiest spending time with friends and with her favorite muggle, Henry, her teenage son.