When the first Cheap Thrills Records opened in 1995, compact discs were beginning to oust cassettes as the era's preferred musical format. These days, however, nearly all formats of yore?from vinyl LPs to CDs?line the shelves in harmony. From Beck to ZZ Top, both locations not only sell classic and contemporary artists, but also trade music for cash, store credit, or a lovingly hand-drawn IOU. The same goes for DVDs, video games, recent gaming systems, and even gold. The rest of Cheap Thrills' inventory, meanwhile, ranges from magazines and T-shirts to incense and jewelry.
A bearded and scruffy Shawn Hash launched his outfitting business 20 years ago with a spartan collection of four bicycles, two canoes, and a pickup truck. Tangent Outfitters now oversees a small flotilla of aquatic craft as it leads guests to all the outdoor adventures the New River and its surrounding valley have to offer. Tubing trips afford a leisurely 1- to 2-mile jaunt down the river, with plenty of pit stops at sunny beaches, swimming holes, or riverside nail salons. Instructors bring a slice of Hawaiian watersports to Virginia with standup paddleboard lessons or teach guests to snag unsuspecting smallmouths with guided fishing trips. The surrounding mountainous trails invite bikers to speed through their dirt-stained paths, and the riverbeds host seven different types of kayak and canoe day trips. Adventurers can stock up on excursion rations at Tangent's onsite deli.
After a dozen years in the restaurant business, Roya Gharavi had an epiphany: instead of traveling far and wide to gather specialty ingredients and kitchen tools, why not bring those things to her? The idea took root; in 2000, she sold her restaurant, and the Gourmet Pantry was born. After outgrowing its first location, the business expanded into a second location in 2006, where Roya finally had the space to construct a kitchen and bring her dream of founding a cooking school to fruition. Today, the shop is stocked floor-to-ceiling with cookware and is equipped for cooking classes as well as a variety of special events such as wine tastings and cheese-eating contests.