The town of Marlinton was abuzz when Pat’s Beauty Shop closed and renovation began by new property owner Bob Safrit. What business would take the salon’s place? What would join the businesses of downtown Marlinton?
The big surprise was that not one, but two new businesses were coming to Marlinton and, on May 22, Alison Pottery and Greenbrier Bikes open their shared door to the public.
Safrit’s wife, Alison Flegel, is the namesake of the pottery studio and art gallery in the front of the building.
Flegel is a master potter and has sold her pottery in several locations, the latest of which is the Burner Homeplace in Cass. Flegel and her mother, Louise Burner, opened the Homeplace in 2018 as a gallery and museum. The oldest home in Cass was built by Burner’s family and serves as a historical landmark for visitors and locals alike.
When Safrit and Flegel discussed what to do with the former salon, he suggested a gallery and Flegel said, “That would be cool.”
“Having a gallery at the Burner Homeplace – that’s great – but this is a whole new set of people and different tourists coming through,” she said.
In addition to selling her pottery, Flegel has other artwork for sale, much of it created by West Virginia artists.
“I have several other artists,” Flegel said. “Illustrator and watercolorist Seth [Pitt] from Thomas, and Joanna Yates, who is originally from West Virginia, but she lives in Sedona, Arizona, now. She makes jewelry out of bike parts. Louise Burner is making clay jewelry with semi-precious stones. Quincy McMichael, a Greenbrier artist, uses recycled paint to make something new using found wood and other objects.
“Lori Salmon is a resident of Arbovale,” she continued. “She’s doing photos of the Greenbrier River Trail on canvas. Kristen LeCroy, who lived in West Virginia for a time, but is now in North Carolina, is doing watercolor.”
The gallery is the second collaboration the married couple had this year – the first is their now nine-month-old daughter, Willow, who joins her mom in the pottery studio, but hasn’t started her own line of pottery just yet.
“She likes to watch me throw,” Flegel said, laughing. “Hopefully, one day, she’ll be my little helper. She’ll be making mugs.”
Willow isn’t the only one who can watch Flegel throw pots. Every Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m., she is at Alison Pottery, throwing pots and greeting customers.
Flegel is also a yoga instructor with her own business, Little Mountain Yoga, which offers classes at the Burner Homeplace.
Despite having all these duties to juggle, Flegel does so with grace and is excited to have a new location in the heart of Marlinton to share art with the community.
“The location is pretty awesome,” she said, standing on the porch watching the First Friday event take place at the Discovery Junction.
Greenbrier Bikes, operated by Safrit and Scott Guyette, is located in the other half of the building.
Both avid mountain bikers, Safrit and Guyette realized there was a need for a shop in the area, especially after the Snowshoe Highland Ride Center IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) designation was awarded to the county. As an IMBA Ride Center, Pocahontas County is attracting more and more mountain bikers who want to experience the novice-to-pro-level trails throughout the county.
“This time last year, Bob and I started seriously talking about it, and we started placing orders in November or so and officially opened a month ago,” Guyette said.
They have a full service shop for all kinds of bikes and rentals and supplies for cyclists of all levels.
While sales are always a number one goal for any business, Guyette and sales specialist Marcos Morias said Greenbrier Bikes is also here to bring cyclists together and to create a community for bike enthusiasts like themselves.
“We’re here to make sure people have fun on bikes,” Guyette said. “We all ride anything and everything – mountain, gravel, road – all of the above. That’s kind of the whole point of this shop is to help people of Marlinton and honestly, everybody, to get on a bike.”
“We’re going to try to become a good meeting point and try to organize some group rides,” Morias added. “I think that’s a goal, too – for people to come here and find others to ride with and bring people together in that way. I think that will be sweet, too.”
Morias, a native of North Carolina, has been coming to West Virginia for years to enjoy whitewater rafting and cycling. On one particular trip to Snowshoe Resort, Morias found himself riding a ski lift with Guyette.
The two started talking and before long, Morias was packing his bags and moving to the county to work at the shop in Marlinton.
“I’m really happy to be here,” Morias said.
Guyette is also a transplant, originally from New York – he was a BMX and freestyle cyclists and discovered mountain biking in college. He was a mountain bike guide in Nevada, a shop manager in Montana and then moved to Snowshoe with his wife, Sarah Eilers, who grew up in the county.
The shop strives to be a one stop shop for all cyclists – newbies and old pros alike. It can outfit visitors with rental bikes, safety gear and a map of the county’s trail system, or simply point them toward the Greenbrier River Trail, which is just a stone’s throw away.
“Local knowledge of the trail system is what we provide, too,” Guyette said. “It’s tough, because Marcos, Bob and I are all passionate mountain bikers, but we’re sitting on the Greenbrier River Trail. There’s seventy miles of just awesome swimming holes, fishing holes, relaxation, so we’re trying to tune the shop to be full- spectrum – the whole gambit. We don’t want to be so focused on our own passions that we neglect the interest of others.”
Both businesses are open Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Guyette said if cyclists need a rental or need assistance on days the shop is closed, they may email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.