Rachel Hartdegen, Bluffton Today
Bluffton’s local store, The Village Pasta Shoppe has been open almost six months since its grand reopening in November 2022 and shop owner Leslie Rohland said that business has been “really good.”
Rohland, also owner of The Cottage Cafe, The Juice Hive, and numerous other local Bluffton businesses, said that in these few months of ownership, the transition from the previous owner has been “super-smooth” and her customers are happy to see the shop open again.
Over the past six months, Rohland explained, she has taken what the shop previously offered and “expanded it,” adding various retail items that range from kitchen utensils and mugs to select wines and Italian beer. She said that the shop also now has a “huge olive oil collection” and offers gluten-free and vegan options.
Rohland said that she wants to keep “the legacy” of the shop, but it’s natural that some things change. The customer base now includes people who shopped at the store before the new ownership along with new customers she has drawn in with updated marketing.
“The transition from the previous owner was super-smooth and I was super happy to be a part of her dream of retirement,” Rohland said. “I’m super-proud to pick up her legacy and continue it that way.”
The Village Pasta Shoppe was previously owned and operated by Bluffton resident Connie Rockhill. According to Rohland, Rockhill approached her and asked if she would be interested in taking over the shop and negotiations began soon after. Rohland said that Rockhill was ready to retire, and it was “an honor” to take over the shop.
In the past six months of ownership, Rohland said that the largest issue she has faced has been in hiring. She explained that this has been an issue for local business owners for a while.
“The demographic we’re looking for, that person who works in this industry, who’s below the age of retirement, we’re just not seeing it,” Rohland said. “A lot of that could be that schools are not out yet, but it’s like where is this career person who wants a really well-paying job?”
Rohland said that in the past few months, some employees she’s hired have been unreliable and she’s had to let them go. She believes that this issue comes from a lack of affordable housing in the area.
And she said that another reason that hiring is difficult is that people looking for employment want to work more hours than she can offer them.
Rohland and other local business owners have discussed possibly starting a coalition that would allow employees to work more throughout the week by splitting their time between separate businesses, she said. This would allow employees to work more hours if they need to and help the employment problem these businesses are facing.
Rohland said that at this time this is just an idea they are discussing, and nothing has been put in the works, but this would be a solution to her biggest problem.