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Shepherdstown attracts alumnae-owned businesses

German St. Coffee and Candlery
Owner: Deborah Robertson Luksa '80
Shop address: 103 West German St.

German St. Coffee and Candlery celebrated 17 years in business in June. Owner Deborah Robertson Luksa '80 earned a degree in photography from Shepherd, and, following graduation, continued working her college job at the Yellow Brick Bank while also working at photography studios. After she married Mike Luksa, who owns The Press Room, the two moved to New England for a few years.

While there, she took a job managing a shop in Newberry, Connecticut, that was similar to Coffee and Candlery. "I really enjoyed it," Deborah said. "The idea of having a store was in the back of my mind." Deborah said she knew that if she had a shop, she wanted to have it in Shepherdstown. The store has had several locations over the years, sharing the space of what is now The Lost Dog and then the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop.

Deborah said that her husband says the shop is a product of a "very confused mind." The shop sells a variety of candles, locally roasted coffee beans, teas, chocolates, and a wide selection of wines, cheeses, kitchen accessories, and gifts. Deborah said that she sees a lot of college students who come in to purchase gifts. "The focus is on local business; people like to buy locally," Deborah said. "We sell things people use and often sell things that people have requested." Deborah said she has met many great people and has had a lot of support over the years. "It's been really worthwhile," she said. "I really enjoy it here. It's a good place to be."

Owner: Cari Aliveto Rosen '97
Shop address: 133 1/2 West German St.

Cari Aliveto Rosen '97 taught for seven years in Loudoun County, Virginia, Schools before taking time off in 2004 after the birth of twin girls, Eve and Zoe. While Cari had always had a creative streak, she didn't begin making jewelry until her mother suggested she try making jewelry from kits while she was home with her young girls.

In 2005, neighbors started offering to pay her to make items for them, and after she grew tired of lugging her supplies and family to craft shows, she started using Facebook to expand her business. It was always a dream of Cari's to have a studio where she could do her metal work when she began incorporating it into her jewelry making. The only time she could do her metal work was late at night, and that, combined with the desire to get the business out of her home for the sake of maintaining professional contact with clients, prompted the search for a studio.

"I never considered looking anywhere else," Cari said of finding her small shop in Shepherdstown. "It wasn't an option." Cari said that having the University in town brings a lot of business to the area.

While she has no formal business background, Cari said that her bachelor's degree from Shepherd and a master's in administration has given her training in dealing with different children, or in this case, people and potential customers. Currently, Cari teaches light metal classes once a month. In the fall, she hopes to expand classes to bi-monthly.

Maria's Taqueria
Owner: Maria Allen '09
Shop address: 111 West German St.

Maria's Taqueria is a small, independently owned taco and burrito shop serving southern California- and Mexican-influenced cuisine along Shepherdstown's German St. Owner Maria Allen '09, originally from Vienna, Virginia, came to Shepherd in 2004. Initially, she was drawn to the small school and class size of the University, but ultimately it was the town that made her choose to stay and open up a restaurant.

Maria describes her shop as "recession friendly," providing an option that anyone can afford and feel good about spending their money on. So far, that concept has worked. Maria says that she has been overwhelmed with the amount of support that the shop has received since it opened in June 2009.

Maria, who earned an R.B.A., said she likes the program because it allows people to apply knowledge they've obtained toward a degree. "It allows freedom to gain new knowledge and lets students learn what they want to learn," Maria said.

After living in Shepherdstown while attending Shepherd, Maria said she loved it so much she couldn't leave. "I thought of myself as more of a local," Maria said. "I hoped that Shepherdstown would be good to me since I loved it so much." She said that local residents like the shop, and recently, the students caught on. "They like that we're inexpensive for the quantity of food," Maria said.

* Jillian Kesner


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Deborah Robertson Luksa

Cari Aliveto Rosen

Maria Allen

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Maria's Taqueria on Facebook

Shepherd University | P.O. Box 5000 | Shepherdstown, West Virginia | 25443-5000 | 304-876-5000 | 800-344-5231