Each property has its own charm and unique story - and we think you will enjoy hearing these stories and finding out more about the faces behind those lovely storefronts.
So each month, our Smithfield Rocks program will feature one of our outstanding merchants. We'll tell their stories and let them "toot their own horn" a bit. Why not? Smithfield Rocks! And they are a vital part of why we do!
Wharf Hill Antiques – A Genuine Main Street Success Story
When Judy Begland and her husband, Bob decided to make Isle of Wight their home in 1986, Main Street didn't look anything like it does today. There were more empty storefronts than businesses. But after moving 14 times with the military, the Beglands were ready to put down roots and they fell in love with a historic building, located right in the heart of Smithfield.
As Economic Development Director for the county and the town, Judy decided to put her money where her mouth was. With help from her daughter who moved back from Washington D.C. to help, Judy decided to open Wharf Hill Antiques in 1992.
"We loved antiques and believed in small towns, especially Smithfield, so we decided to do what we hoped others would do as well. The vision for the business was to have a unique shopping experience that included great customer service, special merchandise, and an authentic place. If we did it well, we would see Smithfield vital and strong again."
It's impossible to walk past Wharf Hill without stopping to admire the shop's large windows. They draw you in and the exquisite displays make you want to press your nose against the glass to see every detail. And Wharf Hill enchants from the moment you enter through the beautiful antique door. (The staff can always tell the new customers because they fumble with the handle!) The beautiful merchandise, soft music, and fragrant aromas make busy shoppers stop, take a deep breath, relax, and know they are in for a great shopping experience.
Originally Wharf Hill sold only antiques, but today it offers home and garden items as well. And although customers love its antiques (it specializes in early 1800s American pieces), they also enjoy the shop's adorable baby section and gorgeous conservatory that houses flowers and garden accessories.
Folks visit Smithfield from around the region just to shop at Wharf Hill. When asked why she thinks that is, Judy explained, "There are many different reasons - the experience, the merchandise, the employees (all are exceptional), and of course the country and small town experience."
But the shop also hosts visitors from around the world. "Because we are near several tourist attractions, we get customers from all over the country and even overseas. Last weekend, a family from France, husband stationed with the NATO command in Norfolk, were in the store. This is not unusual!"
Selected as one of the "Top 50 Shops in the South" in the November 2007 issue of Southern Living, Judy credits her daughter Christina, husband Bob, and her remarkable staff for the shop's longevity and customer loyalty. Several employees have been with them for more than ten years and there are even a couple of mother/daughter teams.
Family is important to Judy. She is proud to be a mother to three children and grandmother to five. She also shares her home in Rushmere with a chinchilla, a rabbit and two dogs. Having recently retired from 30 years in economic and community development in the region, she will have more time now to enjoy them all. Though she's still very involved in the community as a dedicated volunteer serving as the Board Chair for Voices for Kids (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children - CASA), an organization that provides help for neglected and abused children involved in the court system. As an animal lover, she supports the Gimme Shelter Thrift Store which donates 100% of its proceeds to benefit the animals of Isle of Wight County. Judy also remains active as a consultant in the field of workforce development and education.
An annual visit to Wharf Hill Antiques is on many families' holiday tradition lists. That's when the shop is transformed into a winter wonderland with festive displays and unique items filling every nook and cranny. The shop is known especially for its German Nutcrackers, Christopher Radko Cookie Jars and Santa Clauses. In fact, in 2007, Hampton Roads Monthly awarded it the "Best Holiday Decorations" in the region.
The team at Wharf Hill works hard to create a WOW factor for their customers. They deliver too - by offering quality merchandise and extraordinary customer service. It's no surprise that many of their customers have been coming for more than 20 years. As Judy explains, "they have become our friends and a part of the Wharf Hill family." It is that welcoming sense of family that makes Judy and her team at Wharf Hill Antiques a genuine Main Street success story!
216 Main Street in downtown Smithfield, Virginia
Store Hours: Monday - Saturday 10- 6, Sunday 12-5
Closed: New Year's Day, Easter, July 4th, Thanksgiving, Christmas & the Friday before our Holiday Open House, which is always the first full weekend of November.