- The Batesville store. Photo by Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow / CC
In an e-mail to their mailing list, the Batesville Store has announced that they’re going out of business, immediately. Despite their name, it’s definitely more of a restaurant/concert venue than a store, and that’s apparently the problem. As Jessica Jaglois reports for CBS-19, country stores are limited to seating for fifteen people, and the Batesville Store has seating for north of forty. The store’s owners say that the Department of Health told them that they had to cut it down to fifteen, and they’re responding by closing down. Presumably their other two choices are to just change their classification to “restaurant” or cut down to fifteen seats, but I have to imagine that neither of those options are financially feasible.
- The interior of the Batesville Store. Photo by Brian Wheeler, Charlottesville Tomorrow / CC
Although I don’t know about the state, I know that the purpose of the county maintaining “country store” as a business classification is to give them certain breaks to ensure their continued existence. But that requires actually fulfilling the functions of a country store, a definition that led to some debate on the Board of Supervisors a few years ago. Charlottesville Tomorrow’s coverage from back then is well worth reading for anybody who is interested in the specifics of the topic.
It’s not clear that a straight-up country store is a viable business model anymore. Here in Stony Point, Bobbi’s Grocery turned into Grand Junction five years ago, and crowded aisles with every product you might need have given way to a deli counter, wine racks, and occasional live music. But in Free Union, Maupin’s hasn’t changed since when I’d get off the school bus there as a kid to buy a Chocola and a Snickers—they’ve still got the necessities that can obviate a drive to town. Over the mountain, Cismont Market is a mix of the two—a bunch of aisles for the basics, but also a deli. I don’t know how far the pendulum has to swing away from country store and towards restaurant before a business should no longer enjoy the benefits of the “country store” definition, but apparently the Batesville Store is seen as over the line, at least by the Department of Health.