In 1997, my mom (Judy) and my grandmother (Dorothy) acquired Virginia Favorites. It started as a retail store that largely offered our own brand of gourmet Virginia peanuts prepared by the ladies in the tiny kitchen behind the storefront. Additionally, gifts specific to Virginia could be purchased at the store such as magnets, hats, t-shirts and other gourmet food offerings from Virginia. Shortly after opening the store, travelers would come in not only to pick up their favorite Virginia peanuts, but also to check in on Judy and Dorothy. That personal touch is what inspired me to share our story. Our business has turned out to be so much more than working to make money. We love what we do and we love the customers that we've gotten to know over the years that we now call our "friends" ( you know who you are ;) For so long, we've been working behind the scenes filling orders and toiling over making the perfect gift baskets and while technology has changed immensely since our inception in 1997, it is our relationship with our customers that inspired me to share a bit about who we are.
My brother, Rick Whittington, developed our website in 2001 and I'm pretty sure we were the first peanut company here in Virginia to purchase a domain and sell peanuts online. Looking back, what seemed like giving my brother a project to work on turned out to be the lifeline of the company. As the website expanded the reach of our business, the online fulfillment factory in Mechanicsville was opened to lessen the burden on our retail store. That's where I come in :) I have a Master's Degree in Special Education and was teaching at a middle school when the opportunity presented itself to take on this segment of the business. It was an exciting but difficult decision to give up teaching to work in the family business. After careful consideration, I made the jump and started cooking and filling orders that were purchased on the website. That was one of the best decisions I've ever made because in 2009 my mom and grandmother sadly lost their lease to the peanut shop and had to close it. Without the factory in Mechanicsville, Virginia Favorites would just be a memory.
This peanut business has been so rewarding in so many ways. Since joining full time in 2006, we've seen our "downs" but the "ups" far surpass the frustrations that come along with being an entrepreneur. As many of you have heard when you call, my two children spend their free time here at the store and have since they were born. As I type, I look out the window at the factory and see the beautiful mature shade tree where I'd take my son to play when I knew that if I didn't take him outside for a while I'd never get my work done. Who can say that? I'm so fortunate to have been allowed the opportunity to work with my family and fortunate to have been able to raise my children here at my shop. Your business gives me the chance to live my dream and for that I'm forever grateful. I hope that when you receive your peanuts (and other goodies), you can taste the quality and know that while we may be small, we strive to offer the best product from its outward appearance to the contents of each can or bag. We always enjoy hearing from you, so don't hesitate to call or write with suggestions, comments, or just to say hi. Thanks so much for being a part of our Virginia Favorites family!