Tucked away on South Madison Street in Middleburg is a store that transports its shoppers to different time periods with a fashionable flair. And it offers a fantastic arrangement that changes genres, almost as if it is a new store each year.
Keith and Pam Foster, owners of The Outpost, created the shop as a reflection of themselves and how they live: “We travel for five weeks [every year], and my wife and I, on our anniversary, go to Africa, and we live in a tent for 10 days; it’s cool,” says Keith. “We go to Africa to remind ourselves what our foundation is: exotic travel, beautiful destination [and] to be whisked away to another place, so we want our shop to feel like that … African-inspired, nature-inspired, travel-inspired and authentic.”
The Fosters get the opportunity to buy collections of artifacts, natural history or furniture. “We will go on [a] wild goose chase to find things. We have our normal range of contacts to source and find things, but from there we always ask, ‘Have you heard or know of someone creative, or know of a cool house we should see?’”
Keith says their mantra when buying is to only focus on what he and Pam love and are enthused about. “We try to never sit there any think: We can buy for this; we can sell for that; we can make money. Our focus needs to be: Is it cool? Is it great? Are we enthused to have it?”
During January and February, the Fosters traversed Europe for the shop’s new pieces. “In England we want to find the exotic, the rare, the interesting; in France we’re looking at garden, midcentury, stylish; and in Belgium we want to find things really interesting, a little edgy with little attitude, a little continental feel, something so different from what we have in the states,” says Keith.
The store gets four shipments a year, and each month the Fosters restage the store to keep it fresh. In the past shoppers would have found that one room was an African tent in India in the 1920s; another room a midcentury stylish Parisian flat; and a scene of Hollywood glam. This spring the focus is an English and French garden, so everything in one room will be garden-inspired. Another room will be an English game room; the middle room will transition based on the new pieces coming in.
The store also stocks pieces from local, national and international craftsmen. Items that will always be found in the shop are Turkish pillows, papier-mache wall art, stationery by Felix Doolittle, nature prints by Golly Bard (The Outpost is the only shop to stock this Upperville resident’s artwork) and assorted gift items.
While the Fosters try to inspire their shoppers with not only the experience of being in the store and the unique items it houses, they also put great emphasis on their role in the community. Each year The Outpost holds the Help Us Help Others sale in November with all proceeds going to two charities, and 10 percent of all profits throughout the year go to charity as well.
And with the success of The Outpost over the past five years, the Fosters are starting a new venture in mid-April that complements the store and their philosophy on life: The Keep and The Cottage in Upperville. The Keep is a “garden-inspired, natural wonderland” destination shop in an old Baptist church with 15-foot-high ceilings that is natural-inspired, green and lush but still exotic,” explains Keith. And The Cottage is outfitted like The Outpost where clients or whoever can stay for an exquisite respite.
( March 2016 )