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Fashion / Shopping

Iconic River Oaks Gift Shop Makes a Shocking Move, Fleeing Impending Construction

A Shopping Center’s New High-Rise Prompts this Entrepreneur to Act Boldly

BY // 12.26.17

“My customers are excited. My staff is excited. I should have made this move a long time ago,” says Regina Garcia, sitting in the middle of the soon-to-open new location of Events. The lady is packing up her Baccarat, her fine stationery and gifts and getting out of dodge before a construction storm hits at her current home in River Oaks Shopping Center.

The iconic gift shop has been one of the primary anchors of the West Grey shopping mecca for three decades. But things are changing in the ‘hood and Garcia is moving. It’s not a long trip as the original location is little more than a mile from her new digs at 2439 Westheimer, just east of Kirby.

You might recall the address as the former home of Spaces and before that The Empty Vase.

When Weingarten revealed its plans to build a 30-story residential high-rise at the eastern end of River Oaks Shopping Center last February, Garcia, who purchased the popular gift emporium in 2013, began contemplating a move. By the fall, she was already looking and found herself being courted by real estate interests that would die for the cachet that comes with Events.

She settled on this upscale strip center on Westheimer that shares parking space with the ever-popular Avalon Diner. Doors are scheduled to open on February 1.

“With the construction going on at Weingarten, I felt that it was necessary to move so that the customer service would not be interrupted because, as you know, we are all about service,” Garcia tells PaperCity, adding, “I think construction just delivers a whole other negative thought process. I don’t want my clients to have to suffer through the construction.”

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The River Oaks Construction Storm

That construction, set to begin in early 2018, will stretch from the east side of Brasserie 19 around the corner at Cafe Ginger, to the location of the now-closed Local Pour. Cafe Ginger is already working on a new space two blocks east on West Gray.

With the move comes something of a new direction for Events. While the space is shrinking from 6,400 square feet to 4,300 square feet, Garcia and her team are further editing their collections. In the new store, the focus will be 30 percent on custom gifts, linens, stationery and the like and 70 percent on items from her traditional luxury purveyors.

Garcia assures that the rich service — providing such things as custom gift wrapping, custom ordering, custom gift items and personalized stationary and linens — will continue. And, yes, Events will continue its tradition of custom wrapping a special customer’s frozen salmon filets, which he catches each year in Vancouver. It’s a task that must be completed in one hour so that the salmon is ready for delivery before defrosting begins.

Garcia points to a few other examples of over-the-top service: A hostess discovers she is short two champagne glasses for tonight’s dinner. Events will deliver them within the hour. Another hostess needs place cards on a moment’s notice. She will have them by 6 p.m.

All that and more awaits visitors to the new store. The luxury area in the middle of the shop is being designed a la a French chateau. Garcia recalls Versailles. Lighting and furnishings are being added. Seventeen chandeliers, many custom made in Prague for Events, will adorn the ceilings and will be ready for home delivery.

The new location has a full service kitchen, so Garcia notes that private parties, art shows and the like are among the possibilities at the Westheimer shop.

Two of Houston’s leading ladies have been assisting Garcia in the planning of the new place and its contents — Terrie Turner, who enjoys both an artistic bent and a home in Italy, and Philamena Baird, Houston Arts Alliance board chair.

These two are also helping with plans for the store’s grand opening party in early February. A charitable partner will be announced soon.

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