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Artist breaks social ground with move to Main Street

Monday, Apr. 20 | By Hannah Dellinger
Sherrie Carter standing in front of her store's old location in Warrenton.
Fauquier Times Staff Photo Hannah Dellinger
In the early 1960s a 6-year-old Sherrie Carter had to wait outside to order ice cream from the dinner attached to Rhodes Drug Store in Warrenton, because of the color of her skin.

Over half a century later, Carter signed a lease for that very same old drug store building on Main Street. She started the process of moving her folk art store, Sherrie’s Stuff, into the building on Saturday.

This move makes Carter the first black business owner to have a shop on Main Street since C.D. “Charlie” Madison owned Madison’s Barber Shop in the 1930s, according to the Fauquier Historical Society.

Teresa Reynolds of the historical society said that not only is Carter the first black business woman on main street, for a long period of time Madison’s Barber Shop only served white customers.

“Sherrie really is treading on new ground,” said Reynolds on Monday afternoon.

The artist and business owner comes from a legacy of activism for equality. Carter’s mother, Eva Walker, made a lasting impact on local social justice in her day.

“During segregation, we would have walk to school along the train tracks,” said Carter’s sister, Robyn Thompson. “It wasn’t very safe. When trains came we had to jump out of the way. So she petitioned to get a bus to take us to school.”

Walker’s name is also well known in Warrenton for the park that she helped to establish. Thompson said that her mother helped raise money from the Gerber Foundation so that children could play at what is now the Eva Walker Memorial Park at the corner of Alexandria Pike and Haiti Street.

For Carter the move isn’t meant to break social ground or to gain recognition. The humble painter is simply excited about expanding her folk art studio and gallery.

“When I saw that this was available, I said, ‘Let’s just go for it,’” said Carter, smiling.

Sherrie’s Stuff has been around the corner on at 19 Fifth St. since 2011. Carter converted a small space into and homey, cozy getaway for shoppers to enjoy.

The new space will give Carter at least an extra 300 square feet. Though there is more room, the new lay out holds new challenges for the designer.
“This is one big open space,” said Carter. “My last store had lots of rooms and wall space. So to give this a warm feeling, that’s my challenge, but I’m up for it.”

Carter is a motivated do-it-your-selfer. When she first moved into her old shop, Carter taught herself how to wire lighting. She jokes that she did it because she was too impatient to wait on someone else to do it.

Moving to the new store is all still a whirlwind for Carter. She said that her lease wasn’t set to start until May, but since she was allowed to start moving her things, Carter went right to work.

She’s not sure how long it will take her to get everything set up. Possibly a month, said Carter. She added that with the help of her dedicated employees she suspects that it might be much sooner than that.

Eager and curious window-shoppers already began to peer into the store on Monday afternoon. The signs of new activity in the historic building clearly piqued their interest.

The drug store building has a lot of significance to Carter. She said it is home to many memories.

Carter pointed to an old table and booth chairs on display on the wall.

“I just know that my sister and I probably sat on those booths,” she said.

Carter said that her sister pointed out an odd coincidence to her about the move. About two months ago Carter painted the storefronts of Rhodes Drug Store and the surrounding buildings as a piece for sale.

“That was before I knew about any of this,” said Carter. “I didn’t even know that it was going to be for rent. And now here I am.”

Sherrie's Stuff
New address: 77 Main St. Warrenton.
(540) 347-4162

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