Meet Christi Brown Chatham, Manager of Victoria’s Rose
Did you know you can shop in downtown Smithfield for purses, handbags, key fobs, t-shirts and more from the Simply Southern Line? Are you looking for tumblers, canteens or koosies from Tervis and Corkicle? How about monogramed blanket scarves, leather boots and purses? You can find them all at Victoria’s Rose, plus stylish sweaters, skirts, and dresses, gifts from the Mud Pie line, entire sections of toys, baby items, wedding gifts, jewelry, artwork, ankle rain boots, nautical-themed items, and furniture.
Manager Christi Brown Chatham (Mom is still the owner) is one of downtown Smithfield’s youngest merchants, but make no mistake, retail is in her blood. Like all of her siblings, she helped out at her father’s service center from an early age. And when Dave’s Service Center moved to 901 West Main Street, Christi was there when her mom opened Victoria’s Rose in 2001 in the Center’s retail space.
Christi became the manager when Victoria’s Rose moved to the Boardwalk Shops at the Smithfield Station in 2007. The shop moved one more time to its present location at 311 Main Street where Christi’s years of experience in retail and marketing have paid off.
Victoria’s Rose, named after mom, Vicki and her favorite flower, is as charming inside as the cheery lavender Victorian exterior. Step inside to a world of fabulous items. As Christi puts it – “We hope Victoria’s Rose will be your first stop when you are looking for something truly special for yourself or others.”
But Vicki is still very involved with the business. In fact, mother and daughter make a yearly trek to Atlanta to purchase items for the shop. “Mom and I have a rule we follow when we’re in Atlanta. We have to agree to carry the items we purchase. On those rare occasions when we broke the rule, the item always failed to sell – miserably!”
Christi’s product selection proves that she has an eye for marketing. “Mom and I try really hard to bring in products that we think are going to be hits. We are constantly looking for items that are fresh and new – listening and watching customer habits – paying attention. If they are buying something, I try to figure out why and bring in more items that are similar.”
For example, recognizing the current popularity of personalized embroidery, Christi’s sister Haley now offers monogramming on various items, including leather boots, purses, glassware, and more.
Christi is particularly excited about their new chalk painting classes taught by her friend Kirstin. “I love our new classes! We sell a line of chalk paint called Dixie Belle Paints, but we noticed that people were a bit hesitant to try it out. Kristin had been painting furniture and has a teaching background, so I asked her to teach a class. Our first class sold out in two days! We supply the boards, brushes and paint. We teach basic painting, glazes and other techniques people can then use on their own furniture. The class is $45 but you take home a brush, a can of paint and clear coat ($20 value) so you can apply what you’ve learned to your own masterpiece.”Watch Victoria’s Roses’ Facebook page or call the shop for the date of the next class.
So you can see that despite her youth, Christi is really no “new kid on the block.” A 1997 graduate of Smithfield High (“Go Packers!”), Christi has always worked with her family in their retail ventures – except for short stint at Smithfield Packing where she met her husband Butch. The couple has 12-year-old twin daughters who are following in mom and grandmom’s footsteps, helping out at the store and giving their feedback on the inventory. Who knows? Maybe they will be the next generation of downtown Smithfield Brown family merchants. After all, “The family that sells together…”
311 Main Street in downtown Smithfield, VA