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June 18, 2018

Warrenton Décor closing store but not business

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Dawn Winslow-Chadwick help set up a Manassas-based drapery firm’s Warrenton shop in 1979 and bought the business a year later.
Contributed Photo
The shop owner and husband Bruce Chadwick outside the store in 1982.
Business has been good this year, and I’m going out on a high note.
— Warrenton Décor owner Dawn Winslow-Chadwick
Warrenton Décor
• What: Shop selling custom draperies and shades.

• Owner: Dawn Winslow-Chadwick.

• Where: Warrenton Village shopping center, 251 West Lee Highway

• Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday

• Storefront closing: Saturday, June 30

• Employees: 2 part-time

• Phone: 540-347-1020

• Facebook: Click here

• Website: warrentondecor.com
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
After almost four decades in business, the owner of Warrenton Décor will scale back and close her shop June 30.

Dawn Winslow-Chadwick will continue to run the custom drapery and shade business from her Culpeper home, visiting clients in Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties.

Hoping to have more time for hobbies, Ms. Winslow-Chadwick made the decision in April to not renew her lease in the Warrenton Village shopping center.

“I’ve had it 39 years and I just can’t do it forever,” she said. “I felt like I could continue the business (out of my home) and serve the folks, but not be in the store every minute, so I can still have time to listen to the birds.”

“Business has been good this year, and I’m going out on a high note.”

As a young college graduate in the 1970s, Ms. Winslow-Chadwick decided to pursue entrepreneurship after working part-time at a drapery shop in Manassas.

“I always sort of had a retail sense,” she recalled last week. “I was always selling things door-to-door or having yard sales, before that was popular.”

She helped open a new location of the Manassas-based drapery business in the Warrenton Village shopping center in 1979. A year later, she bought the business.

Ms. Winslow-Chadwick remembers 39 years ago, when her side of the Warrenton shopping center thrived with a paint shop, jewelry store, pet shop and sporting goods store.

“We did a lot of community outreach,” she said. “We did an Easter egg hunt every year, a big Earth Day celebration in 1990. It was a busy, hopping place.”

Today, her corner of the shopping center has six vacant storefronts.

Over the last four decades, she has watched Warrenton’s retail sector change.

“In the first years, we struggled to educate people to shop locally. A lot of people were going to Manassas. I don’t think that’s as big a problem now, because we have variety here,” Ms. Winslow-Chadwick said.

Today, she and other merchants encourage citizens to shop locally instead of online.

“You can always look on Pinterest as a springboard, but let us customize it to showcase your personality,” she said. “By supporting the local merchants, you’re supporting the local tax base, local charities, schools.

“Custom draperies are something not easily bought online. I think most who are serious about it want to feel and see and have guidance on it,” she added.

Ms. Winslow-Chadwick credits long-time, repeat customers for her business’s survival.

“I’ve been through at least two recessions, and I think the only reason I survived was because of the deep roots, because I made those connections with people and they trusted me,” she said. “Decorating is the first thing people cut when times are tough; so, things got really tough.”

But, when times got tough she never considered closing. Instead, she ordered products more carefully and boosted her advertising in a variety of print and online publications.

The most challenging part of owning a retail business?

“Just paying my bills, along with having the cash flow, which is the nemesis of every business unless you have really deep pockets,” Ms. Winslow-Chadwick said.

Nikki Marshall from Catlett has purchased custom draperies from Ms. Winslow-Chadwick over the last 17 years.

“She paid a lot of attention to detail and was very considerate that it is an investment,” Ms. Marshall said.

About two years ago, Ms. Marshall considered using another decorator from national chain Ethan Allen for draperies, but decided to use Warrenton Décor instead.

“Dawn was probably 50 percent cheaper than the designer, and she was able to do it fairly quickly for me. She delivered before the decorator would’ve been able to,” Ms. Marshall said.

“She’s very honest and hardworking and that comes through in all her business dealings,” the longtime customer added. “I will certainly continue to use her into the future for any of my drapery needs.”

All merchandise at Warrenton Décor will sell for 50 to 65 percent off until the store closes at month’s end.

“Yes, I’m going to miss having a storefront and having the gift items, but I sincerely hope there will be other gift shops that come in behind me,” Ms. Winslow-Chadwick said.
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