Three particularly well-established businesses function as anchors of the city’s Village District and are owned by female entrepreneurs. Libby Chatfield of Charleston Bread, Ann Seville of Taylor Books and Ellen Beal of Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream are these well-loved establishments, and they were recently highlighted in the Charleston Daily Mail.
In 1995, Taylor Books opened near the mid-point of the seven-block street. Two years later, Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream opened directly across the street, and in 2006 Charleston Bread arrived on the scene a few blocks down. The three shops thrive, largely due to the vision and passion of their owners.
Chatfield opened Charleston Bread in 2006 to a line of a dozen people already waiting outside the door. In May, she celebrated the store’s five-year anniversary. Now the retail storefront bakery sells breads, cookies and pastries from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
The business offers a wide variety of breads, including baguettes, croissants, cinnamon swirl raisin bread, sourdough, olive loaf, cookies and even dog treats. Charleston Bread also provides some local restaurants with bread. South Hills Market and Cafe, Swiftwater Cafe, Berry Hills Country Club and Bruno’s all carry Chatfield’s products.
Ann Saville and her late husband opened Taylor Books (Taylor is Saville’s maiden name) after his retirement in 1995. The store features all types of books but specializes in fiction, biography and children’s books. For Saville, the bookstore is much more than a place to pick up a novel and grab a pastry.
People can have meetings and get together at her shop, Saville said. Sandwiches and salads also are offered in the cafe, and a gallery showcases the work of artists from West Virginia and surrounding states. Taylor Books also hosts live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, as well as art classes in the clay studio on the lower level.
Ellen Beal opened 14 years ago, right across the street from Taylor Books. Beal makes all of her ice cream in-house. She comes up with all of the flavors and creates them herself. Unique flavors like Guinness and seasonal choices like pumpkin and peppermint keep her customers intrigued. People also frequent the shop for the healthy wraps, soups and salads.
Like Chatfield, Beal supplies some Charleston businesses with her products. During the summer months she sells ice cream from a stand at the Capitol Market. Beal has pictures of faithful customers and says she has seen some kids grow up and go off to college. Being across the street from Taylor Books has been an advantage.