Berryville entrepreneurs Brian and Heidi McClemens have done it again. After launching what has arguably been the most successful downtown restaurant in years, the couple is now trying its hand with a new venture to boost retail shopping opportunities to Main Street.
On Friday the “House of Light” opened its doors as Berryville’s newest shopping and dining destination offering Christian merchandise, a coffee house replete with sandwiches, desserts and drinks as well as plenty of couch space for adults and children to sit and relax.
Proprietor Heidi McClemens believes that Berryville desperately needs retail shopping in order to have a viable downtown.
“Everyone out on Route 7 seems to pass Berryville by. But if people see more opportunities to shop here maybe they’ll stop and visit our community” McClemens said. “I think that the House of Light will be a great addition to Berryville.”
The House of Light grew from Brian and Heidi’s love of visiting and shopping at stores offering Christian merchandise. When a friend of the McClemens, Joyce Bonds, decided to close her Christian retail store in Cross Junction, “Word to the Wise”, Brian and Heidi decided to leverage Bonds’s inventory and experience to kick-start the Berryville store.
Bonds said that the House of Light offers a wide variety of Christian brands and merchandise.
“We carry Kerusso tee-shirts and jewelry, Willow Tree collectable figurines and a large selection of Day Spring cards” Bonds said.
Kerusso, located in Berryville, Arizona, is known for producing products with witty phrases and messages based on Christian themes. (Check out Brian McClemens’s shirt the next time you see him; McClemens often sports a Kerusso creation.) Day Spring cards features Christian messages and scripture. The store also offers bibles and new release Christian fiction books.
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House of Light customers can also purchase a wide selection of music for individual listening or liturgical purposes that can be published to CD-ROM.
“Some church congregations don’t always have musical accompaniment for vocalists” Bond said. “We offer music that can be used in place of live accompaniment.”
In addition to their retail offering, the McClemens’s have fashioned a corner of the House of Light into a traditional coffee and dessert counter offering a variety of sandwiches and other refreshments.
Heidi McClemens said that the House of Light menu offers food that is not available next door at the Berryville Grille. “Soups, sandwiches, lots of ala-carte foods. If you don’t have time for a sit-down restaurant experience you can still get a great meal here.”
Traditional Main Street economies, like Berryville’s, have suffered over the past 30 years as so-called “Big Box” stores have siphoned away customers with cheaper products and one-stop shopping models. Business owners like the McClemens and Main Street Berryville, a local merchant’s co-operative, hope to re-kindle enough economic momentum to revitalize retail interest in Berryville’s downtown shopping district.
So far, if the McClemens’s experience is predictive, the revitalization efforts just may be working.
“We came up with the idea for the House of Light after the success of the Berryville Grille” Heidi McClemens said. “The Grille provided the working capital that we needed to open the new store.’
In addition to drawing visitors to Berryville, Heidi McClemens says that downtown retain also offers other benefits to the community including jobs for students.
Coffee bar assistant Valory Lohmann, a 17-year-old senior at Clarke County High School, agrees. Lohmann says that the House of Light will be a great place to work for the summer, and possibly longer if she decides to take a year off from school before entering college.
“I want to be sure that I know what I want to do before deciding about college” Lohmann said. “Having a place right here in town where I can work 15 – 30 hours a week is really nice.”
The House of Light is open seven days a week and is located next to the Berryville Grille. All food is prepared fresh daily.