~ The following first appeared in the Fall issue of All About Her, a regional magazine news insert.
“Everyone has to grocery shop. You should feel inspired when you do,” says Margie Redditt, owner of Floyd’s Harvest Moon Food Store. Redditt believes that shopping, cooking and eating should be fun, adventurous and good for you, especially considering how much of our lives revolve around food.
Currently celebrating its 30th year, the Floyd mainstay – located just north of Floyd’s one stoplight, off Route 8 – sells whole foods, gourmet and gifts. The store’s artful ambience reflects Redditt’s degree in interior design. The cedar wood building has an old-style lodge look. It sits on four acres and includes an art and craft patio. Outlined with dwarf conifers, the building is accented with a wrought iron fenced walkway, a perennial flower garden and a sitting area pagoda.
The Harvest Moon is well supported by Floyd residents and also draws a regular flow of visitors. “I’ve heard people say that one of the reasons they wanted to move to Floyd was because there’s a store like this here,” Redditt says, adding that the store architect was trained in Feng shui (the art of placement) and that thought was taken with every aspect of design.
With 3,000 square feet of store space, the building’s interior also encompasses a bright and spacious upstairs that is home to Natasha’s Café and the Over the Moon Gallery of art. Natasha’s Cafe features live music, porch seating and a cheese and wine bar. The menu is prepared by Chef Natasha Shishkevish, using primarily locally sourced food.
Over the Moon Gallery is incorporated into the dining setting. It showcases a caliber of art that one would expect to see in a larger city and looks out onto rolling views. Headed by Redditt, it provides an outlet for her artistic creativity. “It’s such a great match, fine art and fine dining,” she notes.
Another example of how Redditt approaches the store like an artist approaches a canvas is found in the seasonal displays she creates at the store entrance. A recent Super Bowl display featured a real truck tailgate. During Halloween Redditt likes to hang Spanish moss to create a cobweb effect.
Although Redditt is from Alabama and lived in New Orleans for many years, she came to Floyd with her young family from Connecticut more than 30 years ago, on the recommendation of a friend. She was one of the founders of Floyd’s Blue Mountain School, originally a parent-run cooperative, and quickly became involved in the Old Mill Co-op, a food co-op that was founded and supported by some of Floyd’s earliest back-to-land settlers. When a co-op member suggested The Mill needed regular hours, saying ‘why don’t you open your own store?’ Redditt went for it.
The first incarnation of The Harvest Moon was located in the downtown building that once housed an appliance store and a casket store and is now home to the Black Water Loft and noteBooks. John Michaud, Redditt’s husband at the time, and another carpenter renovated the historical building to look like a shop in the New Orleans’ French Quarter. “It has a lot of personality,” Redditt says of the small two-level cedar sided building. “We packed that place.”
Redditt recalls bringing in sleeping bags for the kids and spending hours cutting cheese and bagging food. “It was not a 9 to 5, but a 24/7,” she remembers. She credits the owner of Eats, a natural foods store in Blacksburg, and core group of Mill co-op members for the store’s initial success. “They were family and friends,” she said of those early patrons.
Eventually the store outgrew its original space and has been in its current location since 2005. Redditt’s second husband, the late Tom Ryan, was a seasoned businessman who encouraged Redditt’s dream through the store’s expansion, making it inviting to a wider audience. Redditt remembers the expansion as an exciting time. “At first we thought, ‘how will we ever fill it?’ Two years later we were looking to expand,” she jokes.
With a focus on supporting local cottage industries, the Harvest Moon carries a variety of local craft products, including cheeses, wine, beer and baked goods, and everything from soaps and salves to kombucha and dog biscuits. As a hub of the community since its beginning, the store remains in touch with its food co-op roots, selling bulk items at reduced prices and providing store membership discounts. Whimsical gifts featured in the store reflect Redditt’s sense of humor. Art supplies, health supplements, body care products and health supplements are sold along side bulk herbs beans, grains, flours and teas.
The store currently supports12 employees, which includes a grocery manager and supplement manager. “I have a phenomenal crew. They are all very supportive and they all do more than one thing in life,” says the store owner, who is also bicyclist and swimmer. Redditt and her managers regularly attend Food Expos to keep up with the latest products, trends and food legislature. The entire staff tries to get together for dinner at least once a year.
Redditt says that the Harvest Moon was born out of her desire to learn to feed her young children well. Today, running the store continues to broaden her horizons. The self-professed foodie who loves to try new things says, “I haven’t traveled a lot, so through food I get to travel, tasting Indian food, Chinese food and so much more.”