Longtime customer Carol Byrne checks out at The Surrey.
Photo by Peggy McEwan/The Almanac
The Surrey, Potomac’s venerable gift and tack shop, is 65 this year and celebrating with daily raffles and special events through Dec. 24 when customers will be treated to the shop’s traditional eggnog.
It's been 65 years since Lyn Carroll started The Surrey on the second floor of the old Perry's Store building at the crossroads of Potomac Village. The Surrey started off as a gift store, but Carroll added tack at the request of her fox hunting friends.
Now located in Darnestown, The Surrey’s history is a series of random stories Carroll’s niece Gaines Hurdle, one of the current store owners, said.
Carroll started the store as a gift shop with friend Anita Bogley, Hurdle said.
“As the story goes, the first day they opened they sold out of all their inventory,” she said.
They obviously did not realize the value of a local gift shop for Potomac residents in 1953.
As the store grew, The Surrey moved down River Road to what Hurdle refers to as the “yellow store.”
Hurdle says she does not remember when her aunt moved the store but does have an interesting story about that move. Another “as the story goes.”
“They borrowed carts from the DGS [a grocery store on the site of today’s Hunters Inn] put the inventory in the carts and walked everything down the street to the new store,” she said.
Hurdle does remember spending much time at the store as a child, there was even a crib in the back office for her naps, she said. The store was her first job.
“I learned how to wrap [gifts] for the holidays and make perfect bows,” she said.
Though she is an interior decorator, she said she spends hours at the store which she runs along with her mother Cissy Grant, sister Lyn Carroll Morgan, and brother Rusty Morgan.
And the friendly dogs.
Customers are greeted by friendly and curious Winsome, an English Foxhound, and Powder, possibly a Pit/husky mix, though no one knows for sure.
The Surrey left Potomac for its current location eight years ago, Hurdle said.
“It was when the economy was bad, and the lease was coming up and [the landlord] raised the rent considerably. The parking was lacking, and the horse community had moved [west],” Hurdle said.
The Surrey sells riding gear and gifts for horsey and non-horsey customers and still has a consignment section in the back marked by the sign that directed customers upstairs at the “yellow store.”
“One thing that is special about our store is the product knowledge and customer service,” Hurdle said. “For instance, riding helmets, we know how to fit them and that’s really important.”
Carol Byrne, of Barnesville is a regular Surrey customer — for about 60 years, she said.
“I was about 5 years old when I first walked into the old store,” she said. “They always have what you need, want and don’t need.”
For a list of special events celebrating The Surrey’s 65th birthday, visit the store’s Facebook page.