Alice and Doug Aaron have a very pretty rock they hope will turn into a magnet.
It’s actually a geode — and if you don’t know what that is, stay tuned – and it is more boulder than stone, about 250 pounds worth of rock, by estimations.
This geode sits in their store, The Warehouse, at 120 Fayette Street in Uptown Martinsville, along with a lot of other collectible items. Which is where they hope it will attract customers. More on that, too.
First about a geode: DesertUSA.com, which studies such things, says a geode is round rock that has a cavity lined with crystals of various sorts. Not every rock people think is a geode meets that definition, but they are distinctive. In the United States you most likely would find one in California, Arizona, Utah or Nevada. But geodes also show up frequently in Iowa, for whatever reason.
The Aarons found their rock in a gift shop behind the arts center in Floyd. The owner was packing up to go to Chicago for a show when the Aarons saw the geode on display, Alice Aaron said, and the owner decided to sell the geode. The Aarons bought it, loaded it on a dolly and brought it back to be one of the largest trinkets in their shop of numerous trinkets.
“It was a huge rock and cut in half initially,” Alice Aaron said. “The lady we bought it from told us the other half was a ‘bad side.’
She said they hadn’t had it weighed, but they believed it was all of 250 pounds. She almost said it was solid as a rock. She said it measures about 3 feet by 4 feet. She described it as looking “like a manta ray.” And you might see that in the pattern.
“The vein of the rock splits it down the middle, and each side is pretty much the same, with purple amethysts and crystals,” she said.
She said the shop owner told the Aarons that original rock came from Uruguay.
“We looked that up on the internet and saw a lot of geodes come from Uruguay,” Alice Aaron said.
The Aarons had a stand to hold their geode and, for now, are using to lure patrons — like their music-playing-by-request employee, Lawrence Sadler — to The Warehouse, which Alice Aaron said they opened "softly" in January and has been “a struggling enterprise.” They've advertised little and relied on social media.
Their store is filled with antiques, gifts, collectibles — think signed Star Trek memorabilia and props from the production sets — unique items (there are two player pianos) and various household wares.
She said the geode may have a future as table in their home.
But this rock, despite its lack of actual magnetism, has drawn attention from the Virginia Museum of Natural History. Alice Aaron said she has had discussions with people there about loaning their rock as an exhibit.
Ben Williams, a science administrator at the museum, said he had seen a photo of the geode on Facebook and that it “looks impressive,” but he hasn’t actually been to the store to see it in person.
Williams said Jim Beard, the museum’s curator of geology, had been on vacation, and when Beard returns, Williams said he plans to take him to Fayette Street to check out this alluring purple jewel.
And Alice Aaron sounds like she knows what their reaction will be: “Everybody who sees it says it belongs in a museum.”