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Debbie and Steve Miller, owners of the recently closed Mish Mish store, enjoy a moment of celebration after being honored at this year’s Steppin’ Out for their many contributions to the town of Blacksburg.

On Aug. 3 on the Steppin’ Out main stage, a large group of local downtown business owners joined the crowd to celebrate Steve and Debbie Miller of Mish Mish.

Susan Mattingly, executive director of The Lyric Theatre, longtime Downtown Blacksburg Inc. member, former DBI board president and a member of Blacksburg town council, spoke to honor the Millers who helped Steppin’ Out get its start.

In addition, Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith has issued a Proclamation to honor the Millers for their contributions to the town.

Steve and Debbie Miller opened Mish Mish 49 years ago off what is now known as the Bollo’s alley, eventually moving to Main Street as their business grew. In nearly half a century they created a thriving anchor to our downtown and saved countless art and architecture students who needed their merchandise, expertise and late hours to get their projects done right and on time. They were a go-to shop for birthday presents for Blacksburg’s creative kids and have kept artists from across the region in quality supplies for generations. They managed to keep Mish Mish humming along long after the advent of the big box craft stores and online art suppliers had driven other independents out of business. They did this by always carrying quality merchandise, offering unbeatable customer service, and through sheer force of will.

Along the way the Millers made the time to help found the Downtown Merchants of Blacksburg, which eventually became Downtown Blacksburg Incorporated – the organizers of Steppin’ Out, taking on leadership positions and pitching in wherever needed. During the early years, Steppin’ Out was a very hands-on operation and Debbie and Steve did everything from picking up trash to sweeping the streets to helping build the wooden stage used in those days. Steve was particularly involved in the selecting the annual T-shirt design and curating the vibrant colors the iconic T-shirts are known for.

This year’s Steppin’ Out marks the end of an era for Blacksburg, as the Millers have decided to enjoy a well-earned retirement and closed Mish Mish earlier this summer.

Steve and Debbie’s impact and influence are felt all over downtown Blacksburg, and we are most grateful to them for their generous contributions.

Submitted by Laureen Blakemore

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