Miller & Rhoads bag lady…literally

Miller & Rhoads bag lady…literally
Miller & Rhoads bag lady…literally
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Pat Cully’s product line includes tote bags and note cards featuring pen and ink illustrations that capture the region’s history and charm. Lighthouses. Covered Bridges. And a department store.

 

When Cully placed the first order for the bag imprinted with an image more commercial than quaint, she doubted she would need more than 25. “But my printer said they would sell like hotcakes. Get at least 100.” She did. And they did sell and continue to sell—and evoke memories for anyone who smiles at the bag’s tag line: “In my dreams I still shop at Miller & Rhoads.”

 

at-the-market

Pat ready for biz at an outdoor market

The drawing is from 1985, when Cully illustrated the Richmond-based chain’s flagship store for its 100th anniversary.  It’s a building she knows inside and out. From the 1960s until 1990, when it closed, Cully worked in the store’s advertising department as a finishing artist. She drew the sofas, china, pots and pans, and other home furnishings that appeared in ads and catalogs. “Many times I’d go down on the floor and sketch a mattress or rug.” Cully drew everything from kitchen blenders to handmade carpets. “I’m very detail oriented.” It’s the reason she doesn’t work with watercolor. “I have a hard time doing ‘loose.’”

 

She credits collaboration with a friend, Tony Turner, for the Miller & Rhoads tote. He owned a home décor store with a tearoom and a loyal Miller & Rhoads following. A few years ago, he held a tea and decorated the room with Cully’s drawings, including the store. There was so much interest that they began brainstorming “how we could keep Miller & Rhoads alive.” They decided on the tote bag and Turner came up with the line “In my dreams I still shop at Miller & Rhoads.”

living-room

One of her illustrations for M&R

 

Today, Cully still draws the details. She turns builders’ technical blueprints into inviting illustrations of homes for sale. And she continues to sketch regional landmarks, including custom pieces for cities such as Fredericksburg and Petersburg. She works from her home studio, where, just a few steps away in her basement she stores drawings from the days of Miller & Rhoads.

 

You can see Cully’s work on her website but IT’S WHOLESALE ONLY, so visit one of these shops for your own bag: Very Richmond Gallery and Gifts, The Virginia Shop at the Library of Virginia and the state capitol, the Pusey Museum Shop at the Virginia Historical Society and Virginia Diner Shoppes.

 

 

 

9 Comments

  1. Congratulations, Pat. Wish I’d had one of your M&R totes when I dressed up for Halloween as “a Richmond shopper past” using both Miller & Rhodes and Thalhimers bags, boxes and credit cards perched in my hatband.

    • Hi Mary Jane! I would have loved to see you as a Richmond shopper from that era! I’m sure you had your white gloves on! If you ever decide to do it again, you know where to find me!

  2. Congratulations Pat, I loved shopping at Miller and Rhodes. I shopped their stores in Richmond and Norfolk.

    • Wasn’t it a wonderful store, Mary Ann? Nothing like it anymore. Definitely another era.

  3. Hello Mrs. Cully, I was pleased to receive a tote bag as a Christmas gift from my daughter. Growing up in Chester, we frequented Miller and Rhoads and always felt so important when we got dressed up to go downtown! Thank you for continuing to preserve these memories for us!

  4. Thanks, Kathy! That was a special time, wasn’t it? I notice your last name is Kellam. Do you have relatives on the Eastern Shore? That’s a pretty prominant name over there. I’m from the Shore originally. So glad you’re enjoying your tote bag!

  5. Pat,
    Have so enjoyed working with you over the years! Hadn’t read it when we talked today but we swung for the fences and hit a homerun.

  6. We did, didn’t we, Kent?! I’ve enjoyed so much working with you, too. Image Designers is the greatest! In fact, I’m down to about 30 totes, so will be seeing you soon! I’ll wait until your busy time is over, though!

  7. I NOW LIVE SOUTH OF BIRMINGHAM , AL & WAS SO THRILLED TODAY TO OPEN A BOX FROM MY BROTHER & SISTER-IN-LAW IN CHESTERFIELD TO FIND THE “IN MY DREAMS I STILL SHOP AT MILLER & RHOADS ” MUG !… AND I WAS A THALHIMER’S EMPLOYEE FOR A WHILE !!!! …WONDERFUL MEMORY..THANK YOU…ANN

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