The Lovettsville Town Council on Thursday night voted unanimously to rezone a 0.32-acre property along South Church Street from residential to community commercial to allow for the Willows Vintage Charm antique shop to move into the former Providence Primitive Baptist Church.
Under the town’s Zoning Ordinance, antique stores are not permitted in residential zoning districts but are allowed in the community commercial district.
Deb Fallon and Karen Gaines will lease the property, which sits within the town’s historic district, from Fred George. They plan to sell antiques, collectibles, home décor, hand-made local soaps, potted garden plants, arts and crafts from local artisans.
Fallon, a 22-year town resident who recently retired from two decades as a Loudoun County school bus driver, and Gaines, a 13-year town resident, are set for a grand opening Saturday, May 4 with a ribbon cutting tentatively scheduled for 10 a.m. followed by raffles, giveaways, 10 percent off merchandise and barbeque sales throughout the day.
Visitors should have an easy time identifying the shop, too, since the door and window frames are painted in a bright raspberry pink.
Leading up to this weekend, the duo has worked nonstop for the past two months renovating the building and landscaping the outside. Fallon said they began work on the property a day after they signed the lease on Feb. 23. She said Town Planner Josh Bateman “didn’t foresee any problems” with them commencing work on the store before the rezoning because he expected it to be a straightforward vote.
There’s 35 years of antiquing experience between Fallon and Gaines and that’s what prompted them to open Willows Vintage Charm. For the past few years, they’ve individually sold antiques from their homes—Fallon selling under the name Vintage Charm Antiques and Gaines under the name Willows Pointe. Combined, they’ve not only created a shop name, but also a mascot of sorts.
Fallon and Gaines said the woman named Willow featured on their storefront sign is their interpretation of a woman Fallon saw featured in a 1926 edition of The Ladies’ Home Journal. “It’s come together beautifully,” Fallon said.
In addition to antique items made anywhere from the late 1800s to the 1970s, the duo will also sell hand-made gift cards, different varieties of succulents, furniture made by a resident who upcycles old wood, chalk-made artwork and, beginning in the fall, local honey and tea.
They’ll also host monthly “do it yourself” workshops and will have a local artist paint a mural on the western side of the building in the coming weeks.
As for the property’s dozens of backyard grave sites, Fallon and Gaines have taken their preservation into account. They’ve already installed a fence around the largest tombstone to protect it from parking cars and plan to work on landscaping the graveyard to preserve it for years to come.
Leading up to the Town Council’s vote to rezone the property, the duo emphasized that their opening would be congruent with the goals of the town’s Comprehensive Plan. They noted that the town has planned for the property to be “general commercial,” which, according to the town’s Land Use Plan, is “suitable for highway-oriented retail, restaurant and personal service uses.”
Converting the building into an antique shop also aligns with three of the Comprehensive Plan’s economic development policies—to facilitate the redevelopment of existing buildings in the historic downtown area, to work with small businesses to promote a healthy small business environment and to encourage beautification within existing development.
The antique shop will be the third the town has seen, with Bee Happy Antiques and Mary’s Place Antique and Artisans preceding it.
Opening another business in The German Settlement corresponds with the town’s recent renaissance of economic development. In 2018, six businesses opened within the 0.86-square-mile corporate limits, including Velocity Wings, Salon Alure and Brainiacs. Two have opened in the town this year, with Rodeo’s Mexican Grill slated to open later this month in the former Lovettsville Pizza & Subs location off Loudoun Street.
Built in 1975, the church building that’s now home to Willows Vintage Charm replaced an older one that was razed in the 1940s. According to George, construction of the existing building is credited to Baptist pastor Fred Hatcher.
George, who’s owned several properties in the town since the mid-1980s, said that a partnership with Fallon and Gaines “was the natural thing [to do].”
“They’re ready to open the doors,” he said. “They’ve been very excited about it.”
And that’s exactly what Fallon and Gaines are experiencing right now, seeing that it’s always been Fallon’s dream to have a storefront to her antiques.
“I truly think that we can make it work,” she said. “We’re going to give it our all—I kind of feel like it’s meant to be.”
The shop will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday.