Meet Cheryl Ketcham, owner and manager of Finley’s General Store.
Working closely with Smithfield & Isle of Wight Tourism as the manager of the town’s award-winning farmers market, Cheryl Ketcham has first-hand knowledge of the shops along Smithfield’s Main Street and what they have to offer. So given the popularity of the farmers market, as well as this “inside knowledge,” Cheryl recognized an opportunity and decided last summer to open a general store featuring many of the items available at the weekly markets.
It’s been many years since a general store located in three first blocks of Main Street closed its doors, so it seems appropriate that Finley’s is located in one of the town’s charming historical properties. The oldest section of the bright yellow Victorian at 327 Main Street dates back to the 1850’s, as does the ambiance of the shop itself.
This is no touristy reproduction of an old store offering mass-produced items. An original brick fireplace, antique cash register, 10’ tall ceilings, vintage posters and signage, as well as baskets and glass jars displaying hand-made products create an authentic general store feel. Cheryl, a marketing major in college, gets that this is exactly the type of experience and products, that visitors are looking for when they come to downtown Smithfield.
As Cheryl describes it, “We specialize in locally-made and made-in-Virginia items. We have jams, jellies, honey, sauces, lotions, soaps, handcrafted items, food-to-go, eggs, candy, and so much more!” She’s especially excited about being able to offer local, fresh produce throughout the week once the season harvest begins again.
Finley’s is named in honor of Cheryl’s father who grew up on a farm in Texas. He would be proud that the store is a family-run affair with Cheryl’s 16-year-old son, Clayton, daughters Abby and Samantha, husband Bill and a few close friends pitching in to help out as they can. Cheryl needed all their help because she was determined to open the store for the 2016 holiday season. It’s no surprise this dynamo pulled it off, opening Finley’s on November 26, 2016, all the while managing the weekly farmers market, the Autumn Vintage Market and the Christmas Evening Market for the tourism bureau!
“I keep quite busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I get easily bored, so I love working on new projects,” Cheryl explains.
Cheryl’s vision for the store was to support the local farmers market vendors by offering them a place to sell their wares year-round. There’s a reason Cheryl relates so well with her vendors. Though she wouldn’t describe her home as a farm, she does manage a small herd of heritage breed Dexter Cattle. Along with chickens, guinea hens, a couple miniature Australian Shepherds, a Shitzu mix, and three cats, family members do refer to the Ketcham home as a petting zoo.
Cheryl is one of those people who squeezes a lot into each day. Along with her job with the tourism bureau and managing the new shop, she enjoys gardening, antiquing, is very active in her church and has been acting since she was a child. She performs regularly at Colonial Williamsburg, as well as at the Smithfield Little Theatre and on Investigation Discovery Channel’s “Wicked Attractions,” “FBI Criminal Pursuit,” and “Monsters & Mysteries in America.”
This native Texan’s marriage to Bill, a Commander in the Navy meant traveling the world to such remarkable places as Rota, Spain, England, Portugal, Germany and Italy. With Bill retiring in January Cheryl hopes to travel more, but this military family has planted roots in Smithfield. It’s home and Cheryl loves it. Especially her new venture on Main Street.
“Santa came into the store on our first day last November and that was a treat, but all of our customers are just as special to us. From children with bags of pennies to buy candy, to their great-grandparents, I love meeting people from across the street and across the world.”
Finley’s has been warmly received by the town and visitors. “I wanted to create a friendly, old- fashioned place with unique items, hopefully a very cozy place, where they feel at home – think grandma’s kitchen or an old-fashioned country store.”
As they say time changes and we with time. After many without one, it’s high time for another genuine general store in downtown Smithfield. Welcome Finley’s!
327 Main Street, downtown Smithfield, 757.515.7665
Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Store hours may vary during the winter months, so check their Facebook page for current times.Facebook: Finley’s General Store