Walking down West Cary Street, I saw clothing stores, restaurants, grocery stores and a 26-year-old man playing cello outside a lingerie shop.
Sitting in a fold-out chair he brought from home with his "signature shades" and an open cello case with $5.62 in it, Edward Haskins has been playing in Carytown, mostly outside Fiamour Lingerie, five days a week since the beginning of September, he said.
"The weather is nice, and I'm a few dollars short of my rent, so I got a week to get it," he said. "Essentially, you come out here and practice, and occasionally, people drop in money."
Haskins' decision to play outside the lingerie shop was strategic, he said.
"I just walked by and was like, 'This is really suggestive,'" he said. "And there's lots of fashionable people with money that come by."
Those fashionable people, Haskins and more than 200 merchants make up "A Mile of Style" that is the Carytown community.
Marley Jankovic, walking around Carytown with her twin 3-year-old daughters, has lived in the Richmond area her whole life. She said she came to shop around often because of how friendly everybody was to her.
"There's everything my family and I need or could possibly want right in this small area," she said. "Every time I come here, something or someone puts a smile on my face, whether it's finding something that makes me laugh or seeing someone do something genuinely nice for another."
Merchants also value the sense of community Carytown brings.
"It's a great neighborhood to work in," said Garnett Spigle-Greer, who has worked for two years as a manager at Mongrel. "We're very friendly with Chop Suey [Books] and Secco [Wine Bar]. We go over there for lunch, and people at Secco come over here on their way to work. It's a real community feeling."
Mongrel, a store with the slogan "Cool Stuff for All Breeds of Humans," came to Richmond in 1991, 63 years after the movie theatre on its right.
The Byrd Theatre, named a State and National Historical Landmark, is one of the biggest draws of Carytown. Movie tickets at the Byrd Theatre cost $1.99, and it has been largely unaltered in appearance since it was built in 1928, according to the theatre's official website. But while the architecture has remained constant, the Byrd Theatre has transitioned into the ever-changing community surrounding it.
"We sell [Byrd Theatre] T-shirts," Spigle-Greer said. "Every evening before the movies start, we get a lot of customers coming in here to hang out before the movies start. The Byrd is such a great draw, such a beautiful theatre."
Luis Gonzalez, a manager at Carytown Burgers and Fries also loves the Byrd Theatre, he said, along with the area overall, which he said always has something going on.
Gonzalez has been working at Carytown Burgers and Fries for four and a half years, he said. Before that, he worked at New York Deli, also located in Carytown, he said. Spigle-Greer was a customer at Mongrel for many years before starting to work there, she said.
"When I heard they were looking for someone to manage and do visuals, I jumped at it," she said.
Now shes feels she's fully part of the community, she said.
"It really does feel like a small town just in and of itself," Spigle-Greer said.
Haskins, who is from Richmond, doesn't think of Carytown as a community of people, he said.
"Most of the time, I just try to keep busy instead of interacting with people," he said. "The point is to try to get money, so I stay on the cello."
Haskins used to play his cello near subway stations in New York City, he said.
"The main difference is money and weather," he said. "In New York, it's $50 every day. Here, weekdays are usually about $30, and weekends can be up to $60."
As I left, Haskins handed me his business card and told me to call him if I ever knew anyone that needed a cellist to play for a party or anything, just as a waitress from the cafe next to the lingerie shop set a free soda by his feet. All part of the Carytown community.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org