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Business update: wine, toys and timber making news
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Business update: wine, toys and timber making news

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Making business news recently is one Rural Retreat store expanding while another announces that it is closing, and a new toy store in Wytheville.

Traeger Pellet Grill and Musser Biomass

Traeger Pellet Grill and Musser Biomass recently held a ribbon cutting at Musser Lumber in Rural Retreat to celebrate a partnership that will create new Wythe County jobs while fueling barbecues across the country.

“This state-of-the-art facility is a benefit to county employment not just through direct jobs but also to the wood producers, cutters and truckers who will get raw material to the plant and then out to market,” said Brian W. Vaught, chair of the Wythe County Board of Supervisors. “The technology here is impressive and continues to build on Wythe County’s reputation as a home for innovation.”

Guests at the event went on an educational guided tour of the Musser grounds, seeing for the first time the new buildings and equipment being used in the production process.

“The project would never have happened without the support of Virginia, the associated municipalities, and all the agencies that have worked with us and Musser Biomass,” said Ben Saksa, director of Wood Products for Traeger Pellet Grills.

One major innovation at the plant is a new form of wood dryer, and Musser is the first producer in the United States to have the new technology. The dryer is a two-story ecofriendly device that can evaporate more than 2,000 gallons of water per hour from the green wood.

The grand opening of the new facilities created more than 25 jobs for the Wythe County community. Wythe County contributed incentives to the project to help attract the jobs and investment.

“We appreciate Musser and Traeger for their hard work, investment and creativity in putting this project together and recognizing the strategic importance of Wythe County’s location and the support of the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund,” said County Administrator Stephen Bear. “Our partnerships with the Joint Industrial Development Authority, Virginia Industrial Advancement Alliance, Virginia Economic Development Partnership and other key allies keep Wythe County growing.”

Rural Retreat Winery and Vineyards

Rural Retreat Winery and Vineyards will close its doors by the end of this year. Owner Linda Mecimore said the winery’s buildings in downtown Rural Retreat near the depot have been sold. The winery business and equipment, along with a vineyard on Cedar Springs Road are for sale.

“This would be a great opportunity for anyone wanting to get into the winery business,” she said.

The winery has been in business for more than 25 years; the Mecimore family relocated it from Honaker to Rural Retreat in 2007.

“We will be dissolving our inventory over the next few months and clearing out,” Mecimore said. “It’s a good opportunity to get a good price on wine. We do have some specials and some discounted merchandise.”

The Mecimores continue to ponder what their next step will be.

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“It’s bittersweet; it hasn’t sunk in yet,” she said. “We’d love to sell the vineyard and have someone continue the winery’s 25-year legacy.”

Andy’s Toys

Specializing in retro gaming systems like Nintendo, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, Andy’s Toys opened this summer at 610 W. Lee Highway. While inside the store decorated with everything from Pac Man to Care Bares, customers can purchase and play games, buy collectibles and toys, and participate in tournaments that include Pokemon, Magic and Dungeons and Dragons.

On Friday nights, customers gather to play Magic and other games just for fun.

“The game systems are hooked up and you can play everything we have,” said owner Andy Williamson.

The Wythe County native said he started selling Pokemon cards online last year. And since The Video Exchange closed last year, after nearly 26 years in business, to make way for the renovated Millwald Theatre, Williamson thought it was a good time to open his store and fill the void.

Andy’s Toys is family friendly, welcoming all ages.

“There’s too much judgement, and we don’t judge here,” he said.

In the coming months, Andy’s Toys will expand into the space next door, which will become an area where crafters can rent spaces from which to sell their handmade products. He will also sell crafting supplies. Williamson hasn’t decided on the rental amount yet, but said he will take 10 percent of sales for the store and an additional 4 percent for credit card fees.

Overall, he envisions a space where dads and children hang out playing games while the mothers enjoy looking at and buying the craft items.

“We’ll take anything as long as it’s handmade,” he said.

Williamson hopes to have the craft side of the store open in early November. He already sells personalized such as tumblers, keychains, magnets, pop sockets and coasters.

Williamson said he keeps his store family friendly, and constantly sterilizes the furniture, floors and equipment. He sells drinks and snacks for players when they get hungry.

“It’s kind of like you are at home, but not in a dungeon basement,” he said.

Andy’s Toys is open Tuesday-Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays it’s opening until 11 p.m. The store is closed Sunday and Monday.

To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email

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