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Whimsical Galerie Owner Closes Shop, Prepares for New Endeavors in New Year

Christine Finnie closed the doors of her gift store, Whimsical Galerie this month. Finnie said she will work with the owner of another Old Town Manassas business. (submitted by Christine Finnie.)
Christine Finnie closed the doors of her gift store, Whimsical Galerie this month. Finnie said she will work with the owner of another Old Town Manassas business. (submitted by Christine Finnie.)
The new year has new things in store for Christine Finnie, a long-time business owner in Old Town Manassas. 

This month, Finnie closed Whimsical Galerie, a small gift shop that occupied the parcel at the corner of Center and Main Streets in Old Town for more than a decade. 

"It's just time to semi-retire and do other things," Finnie said.
At 56, she's still young enough to do so, she added.
The plan is for her to team up with Okra's Cajun Creole Restaurant owner Charles Gilliam and aid him in expanding his business ventures.    

She purchased Whimsical Galerie in 2008 from its previous owner whom she'd worked for in the store for a number of years.  
Being in the retail business is enjoyable, but it hasn't always been easy, Finnie said. 

"Retail is tough; you're married to it, (but)  I've shed my tears over deciding to close it," Finnie said.  On the other hand, Finnie said she gets to spend Christmas with her family in New England, something that she hasn't been able to do while operating her own store.  

Retail is a challenge for small, locally-owned gift shops like Whimsical Galerie because they have to vie for the same customers that patronize large department stores like Kohl's, which is difficult to compete with unless the smaller stores mark down their prices, she said. 

Slashing prices is exactly what she did in the weeks before her store's closing. 
She put everything on sale, including lighting and fixtures, which made her customers very happy, Finnie said. 

The store closed on Dec. 14, but Finnie said the Whimsical Galerie name is still for sale. The store was named by its original owner, Ron Pereira, who chose it because the store carried unique things and had many art galleries as its neighbors in Old Town. The unconventional spelling of "galerie," just adds to the experience, Finnie said. 

It's possible that an incarnation of Whimsical Galerie will one day appear online  as an Internet retailer, said Finnie, She's keeping her options open. 

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