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November 7, 2019

Local couple purchases downtown flower shop

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Tina Culver and her mother Teresa Bowles will continue to work with new owner Virginia Gerrish (center).
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Two decades ago, Ms. Bowles built an addiction that doubled the building’s size.
Photo/Don Del Rosso
Longtime customer Phyllis Teague talks with Ms. Gerrish during a visit to the shop Wednesday.
We were looking for some kind of family business to get involved in. And, this became available. For us, it just felt right.
— New owner Virginia Gerrish
Designs by Teresa
• What: Flower and gift shop

• Where: 7 Main St., Warrenton

• Owner: Virginia Gerrish

• Established: 1986

• Employees: 5, including Mrs. Gerrish

• Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday

• Phone: 540-347-4762

• Website: www.designsbyteresa.com

• Facebook: Click here
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Under the same ownership for 33 years, the downtown Warrenton flower and gift shop Designs by Teresa changed hands last week.

Teresa Bowles on Oct. 31 sold the 7 Main St. building and .08-acre lot that contain the business to Virginia and Dave Gerrish of Warrenton for $1.3 million.

Ms. Bowles and the Gerrishes declined to say if the real estate sale price includes the value of the business. For tax purposes, the county assessed the Old Town property at $654,700. Ms. Bowles listed it at $1.6 million.

The couple first considered buying the business and property about two months ago, Mrs. Gerrish said.

For several reasons, the opportunity seemed like a good fit, she said.

“We were looking for some kind of family business to get involved in,” she explained. “And, this became available. For us, it just felt right. I’m a high-energy person — always volunteering and helping. This is a good way to channel my energy.”

Their decision to acquire Designs by Teresa also would ensure that a family-owned business remained just that, Mrs. Gerrish said.

To the educated and trained preservationist, the 1890s Italianate structure held special appeal, she said.

“We love the building and live in an old house on High Street,” explained Mrs. Gerrish, who earned a bachelor’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington and serves on the town and county architectural review boards.

The approximately 7,000-square-foot brick-and-stucco structure also represents a “good investment,” she said.

Mrs. Gerrish anticipates no big changes for Designs by Teresa.

“For now, we’re going to keep everything the same — same service, same quality of service, same employees.”

Both Ms. Bowles, who founded the business in 1986, and her daughter Tina Culver will continue to work at the shop at their pleasure, the new owner said.

“Tina is staying on indefinitely,” Mrs. Gerrish said. “The same thing with Teresa; she can stay as long as she likes.”

While Mrs. Gerrish owned an import business in the 1990s, Designs by Teresa represents her first retail venture.

“I have just jumped in,” the former Air Force technical sergeant said. “I have never done this. Fortunately, I have an amazing staff. Everybody here can do everything.”

A financial advisor and senior vice president with Wells Fargo Advisors, Mr. Gerrish, 74, head’s the company’s Warrenton branch at 70 Main St.

Within the next six months or so, Mrs. Gerrish hopes to launch the business’s new website, which she believes will strengthen internet sales.

“We’re going to modernize a few things on the business side of the house,” she said.

Besides flowers and plants, the shop carries fountains and other garden items, custom silk flower arrangements, statues and gift baskets.

Mrs. Gerrish plans to expand the shop’s gift selection. A beekeeper, she also may offer supplies and items related to the hobby.

Any changes will be “slow and subtle,” she stressed.

“It’s still going to remain flowers and gifts,” Mrs. Gerrish said of the shop. “Right now, my focus is learning the business. I don’t ever want to compromise the high quality of the work.”

A Designs by Teresa customer for 23 years, Phyllis Teague learned Wednesday about the shift in ownership.

“I’m delighted that the mainstay on Main Street will be here,” Mrs. Teague, a retired school teacher, said in an interview at the shop. “This is such a solid business and focal point of our town. And, I’m thrilled it’s going to continue as a flower shop.”

Carter Nevill, co-owns Carter & Spence, a jewelry and gift shop at 41 Main St.

“I’m thrilled it will continue as a long-standing business on Main Street,” Mayor Nevill said of the deal. “It’s purchased by someone with deep roots, a passion for historical preservation and Old Town.”

Ms. Bowles established business in 1986, initially operating it from a Culpeper Street storefront.

In 1994, she bought the 7 Main St. building and soon moved the business there.

More than doubling the structure's size, Ms. Bowles in 1999 constructed a three-story addition to include a two-bedroom apartment, office space and two-vehicle garage.

She listed the property for sale about 15 months ago. Two potential buyers had expressed interest in it, provided she would continue to run the flower shop and lease space from them.

Those discussions went nowhere, because she wanted out of the business.

Explaining her decision to retire, Ms. Bowles said: “When you do something for 51 years, don’t you think you get tired of it? I’m a little worn out.”

What will she do with her extra spare time?

“Anything I like. I’m going somewhere when my friends want to go somewhere, have lunch with my buddies and stay in my pajamas until 1 o’clock, if I want.”

Warrenton has two other florists — Village Flowers at 81 Main St. and The Warrenton Florist at 276 Broadview Ave.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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