ABINGDON, Va. — The Band sang “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” in 1968.
More recently, between Bristol and Abingdon, the day they took the old Dixie Pottery sign down in mid-June has caused David Richards’ phone to ring incessantly.
“It’s almost comical, frankly,” said Richards, 61, a broker for Richards Commercial Properties of Virginia LLC. Richards lost count of all the phone calls from interested parties — all wanting to know why the iconic neon sign was being removed along Lee Highway.
Did it have anything to do with the name Dixie?
“No,” Richards said. “It’s just a maintenance deal where the crews were working out there with the right equipment.”
Turns out, the owners of the property, D.P. Properties Inc., had wanted to take the sign down for years and perform maintenance, Richards said. With a crane on the property while dealing with other repairs, they decided to remove the sign and have it restored, according to Richards.
“The sign itself is not for sale,” Richards said.
“It’s so dang heavy,” he added. “And we had crews out here with an overhead crane.”
Originally opened in 1957 along U.S. Highway 11, Dixie Pottery closed about a decade ago. The single-floor store sold all kinds of candles, wicker and figurines.
Richards has been trying to sell the Dixie Pottery complex — a collection of six buildings and more than 11 acres — since 2012. The initial asking price was $2.5 million. Now, he says, that price has been “substantially reduced,” but he wants to talk terms with any potential buyers.
“It’s still available. We’re still looking for a buyer,” Richards said.
“I wish it was more of a story,” the broker added. “Nothing would make me happier than to tell you the building sold and we have a new development coming to Washington County.”