Step Back in Time
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Linda Landreth at the Waterford Market
Much of this article was from a 1999 Washing
ton Post story by Jennifer Lenhart
Linda Landreth runs the only retail establishment in the community — the
Waterford Market. She is also raises several dozen sheep just
outside her market in the heart of the town
Two of her biggest-selling items in the store are penny candy
for the youngsters and fresh country lamb sausage, a big seller
fried up and served in a biscuit during the fair.
Her grocery store, with a pot-bellied stove and a dog sleeping
nearby, and the Waterford Post Office serve as the town’s
daily “meeting spots” for the village's residents.
Step inside the Waterford Market and the pace slows. Linda is
happy to talk to customers as she feeds the wool onto a spinning
wheel to make yarn, keeping in step with an earlier era.
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A panorama view of the market
"I believe antiques aren't valuable unless you can use
them," Landreth observed as she rose from the wheel and
used a long grabber--another old and useful tool--to fetch a
customer San Giorgio rotini from a high shelf.
Visitors to the market will see Landreth's 1940s-era freezer,
her old-fashioned waist-high Coca-Cola cooler and her quirky
system of price tags – an original boxed set of plastic
numbers that slide into grooved tracks on the grocery shelves.
(The box says: "Self-service modern price marking systems
for grocery, meat, drug and liquor stores.")
I don't think you can get them anymore," Landreth said,
delicately fingering the neat containers of plastic tabs. "They're
probably as old as the store."
Three circular moldings on the ceiling held kerosene chandeliers
in the store's earliest incarnation as a dry goods store immediately
after the Civil War.
This was a fancy store where women came dressed up to get their
fabric and ribbons," Landreth said. "It was converted
in the 1930s to a grocery store, and all these things were
The shop owner has come by her bits of arcana through an avid
attention to her customers. Landreth is always ready to hold
up her end of the conversation – "I'm generally pretty
upbeat" – and her eagerness to listen has yielded
scraps of history. A silver-haired man who came in for a snack
six or seven years ago suddenly stopped in his tracks when he
noticed the hulk of the 1940s freezer. "
He said, 'I'll be, it's a Tyler. I haven't seen one of these
in years,' " Landreth recalled. The man went on to tell
her that the company, based in Niles, Mich., manufactured the
freezers out of sheet metal and insulated them with sawdust.
The man had worked with the model that is in the Waterford store.
Such information is kept alive for years through conversations
passed roundhead's store. "
Sometimes I think I got to do something about this; it's too
confining," she said. "Then someone will come in and
it just makes your day. You learn something. You have the opportunity
to meet people." That goes for lunch hour, too.
This is not, Landreth will tell you, an urban-style delicatessen
where people walk in, order a packaged sandwich and dash out.
When an uninitiated construction worker came in and walked
purposefully to the cooler, poking his head in for a look, Landreth
followed. "The barbecue ones are pretty good," she
said, referring to a frozen packaged snack. (In a concession
to modern schedules, she keeps a microwave on hand for people
who have to eat in a hurry.) Otherwise, "it's whatever she
has," said John Tsantes, an Alexandria photographer who
was in the area on a freelance assignment for a Chantilly swimming
pool company. He trooped in with two women who were on the job
"This is just what we were looking for," Tsantes
said. "We were hoping not to have to go back to Leesburg
for McDonald's or something."