History

A Luray Tradition
Virginia Gift Shop was opened on Thursday, May 3, 1945 by Martha Lou Harnsberger. The original location was beside the Page Theater on East Main Street (present location of King Chiropractic) and she sold items handcrafted by artisans and craftsmen throughout Virginia. The following appeared in the May 3rd issue of the Page News and Courier: “The Virginia Gift Shop, operated by Mrs. Robert C. Harnsberger, opened for business today in the east store room of the Page Theatre building. With a large and attractive stock the new Gift Shop will cater to both local and travel patronage.”

During the next 40 years, the shop was also owned and operated by Elizabeth Yates and Mary Kyger. A retired schoolteacher, Mrs. Yates moved Virginia Gift Shop to the building across the street that is presently occupied by Mama's Treasures. Later, Mary Kyger moved the gift shop into the East Luray Shopping Center as it became a poplular bridal registry and tabletop business.

Forty-one years after her aunt opened the shop, Ann Baukhages and husband Fritz, bought the shop in June 1986. The Baukhages' owned the business for 20 years and grew it into much more than a bridal registry. Wanting to downsize in early 2001, Ann and Fritz decided to move the business back to East Main Street and share a storefront with Bren's Antiques.

On September 1, 2006 Ann & Fritz passed the baton to Barbie Stombock who worked for them when they first bought the shop in 1986. In November 2007, Barbie purchased the old H & H building across from Main Street Baptist Church and Virginia Gift Shop was moved once again to a new home. The building was restored to two storefronts as it was when built in 1941.

Certainly many things have changed over the past seven decades, but all of the shop’s owners remained committed to the same things – the town, the community and our customers. The Virginia Gift Shop family now encompasses many long-time customers and employees who believe in “service with a smile”. Over the years the inventory has evolved in response to customer needs and market trends.

After 70+ years, the Virginia Gift Shop is among the oldest continually operating businesses in Luray and will still “gladly wrap your purchases, ready to give at no extra cost.”

We look forward to Virginia Gift Shop being a mainstay in Luray for many more years to come.