VIRGINIA BEACH – There’s not only something in the water, but there’s something in the air in the ViBe Creative District: Growth.
The arts district was established by Virginia Beach City Council in 2015 at the urging of concerned individuals and business owners who wanted to see something better for the somewhat blighted area near the Oceanfront.
The purpose, as stated on the district’s website, is “to serve as a vibrant center for the arts, culture, and technology, and to support artists, technical, and creative businesses to help them flourish.”
And flourish it has.
Kate Pittman, executive director of the ViBe District, said since 2015, 35 new businesses have opened up shop there.
“The district offers multiple ways for people to start up or slowly grow their small local businesses at an affordable rate,” she said. “From the weekly Old Beach Farmers Market to the 1701 coworking space, ViBe is becoming a well-known small business incubator, which demonstrates clear success, as a business can graduate to brick-and-mortar or expand to other areas of Virginia Beach or Norfolk.”
LG Shaw, operations manager at Wave Riding Vehicles, located at 19th Street and Cypress Avenue, and a business his father bought in the early 1970s, said the area has changed drastically – for the better.
“The ViBe District has helped to revitalize the no man’s land that was surrounding the few fruitful businesses that have called this area home for decades,” he said.
Shaw can recall the days when a crack house stood across the street and a WRV manager was robbed by a man with a shotgun.
Events like the mural festival, he said, have helped the look of the ViBe District begin to match the creativity that can be found there. Shaw also credits the city for improvements, most recently the work going on along 19th Street, which will make that corridor much more walkable for shoppers and for visitors alike.
“One of the best things so far about the new businesses joining the ViBe District is that they’re all home grown and locally created,” he added.
Recently, the Virginia Beach Art Center opened in its new ViBe location at 532 Virginia Beach Blvd. and Lolly’s opened a new ice cream shop just a block down the boulevard.
Growth continues to be visible in the newest ViBe District business, which held a soft opening the past Saturday.
Jars of Dust
A name inspired by the idea that all vessels begin as dust, Jars of Dust is located in The Alley behind/beside Three Ships Coffee, North End Bag Co., and Igor’s Custom — in the space formerly occupied by Benevolent Design — and offers a handcrafted line of functional ceramics.
Owner and founder Mallorie Terranova said each individual piece is made from stoneware clay with the intention to be used on a daily basis: in the home, out of the cupboard, and on the table.
“Forms are inspired by the hands that will hold the pieces and a color palate inspired by the natural aesthetic of clean and minimal earth tones,” she said.
Terranova founded the business while still in school at UNC Wilmington majoring in Studio Art.
“For the first few years it was solely a side hustle, a hobby that conveniently paid some bills. When my husband (PJ, a head carpenter at Benevolent Design) and I moved to Virginia Beach two-and-a-half years ago I decided not to look for a job at first, and see if I could make pottery full time,” Terranova said. “It was totally a testing-of-the-waters type thing and I had no idea what to expect.”
The local economy was receptive, and she was able to establish an online presence before committing to a brick-and-mortar location.
As she settled into the community and become connected, the ViBe District became the obvious choice for a shop.
“In my opinion this location is the best possible option in Virginia Beach for opening a creative space,” Terranova added. “It’s close enough to the beach to attract tourists, but set back enough to be an attractive area for locals as well.”
She said the existing and growing hub of other small businesses was also a factor, as they contribute to the overall marketplace and push a handcrafted lifestyle.
Jars of Dust will begin with limited hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but will eventually expand to those hours Monday through Saturday.