Cecelia’s opens downtown

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, October 19, 2017

Retirement didn’t sit well with Cecelia Strickland, and it didn’t take her long to realize the fact.

Strickland was the manager of Denison’s, a ladies’ clothing store that closed in May. She and her sister, Candy Lewis, who was the owner, decided to close the store in the Suffolk Plaza Shopping Center due to high rent and the rise of online shopping.

But Strickland had worked at the business for 46 years, since she was 15. She didn’t know what to do not being able to work.

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“My whole world was that, and I loved it,” she said. “I didn’t want to go to work anyplace else. I was just devastated.”

She was so sad and depressed that her son, Billy White, called her one day and said he was going to help her with funds so she could go back in business.

Strickland landed the location at 120 N. Main St. — the former All About Virginia & More store — purchased merchandise and opened earlier this month, with a grand opening held on Oct. 14.

Strickland said she’s happy to be back in business and happy to be downtown.

“My heart is here, because I started down here 46 years ago,” she said. She started working at Lesser’s House of Fashion on West Washington Street before it was renamed to Denison’s.

Strickland has enjoyed getting to see many of her former customers and some new ones, as well.

“A lot of them have found me, and they’re so happy,” she said. “It’s a joy that they’re as happy to see me as I am to see them.”

Cecelia’s Boutique and Gifts specializes in ladies’ clothing, accessories and gifts. Clothing lines include Piccadilly, City Girl, Mud Pie and Frank Lyman.

“There’s not really any place around here just to get a gift,” she said, adding that people have been happy to be able to buy gifts right in downtown. “It’s just that customer service. I’ll go the extra mile and do what I can for anyone.”

The store will also sell “shabby chic” furniture crafted by a family member.

Strickland said she is appreciative of Mike Duman, the owner of the building, for leasing the space to her.

“I would like to particularly thank Mike Duman for giving me a chance with the store,” she said.

She also expressed appreciation to her customers and to many others who helped her get the store ready: her son and daughter-in-law, Billy White and Charlene; daughter and son-in-law, Michelle and Dennis Gregory; her son, Daryl Strickland; her niece, Krissy Asbell; and her friends, Belinda and John Lewis.

“It’s a big family affair,” Strickland said.