By Ingrid Howard
When Diana Hansen closed the downtown Homewood location of White Flowers and moved into Brookwood Village, she originally thought she would operate there for only a few months.
But she said she liked it there so much that she decided to stay.
“I like the comfortableness of this mall,” she said. “And I think it’s pretty the way they’ve fixed it up.”
This isn’t Hansen’s first time operating White Flowers out of Brookwood Village, though. She actually started her business there 30 years ago.
“It was a little bitty store,” she said. “I had the smallest store in this whole mall.”
She stayed there for 10 years, moved to Mountain Brook Village for 14 years, then opened a 4,200-square-foot White Flowers storefront on 18th Street in Homewood. She stayed there until May 2018.
“I just felt like I needed to close it because of the way retail had changed, and it was hard to keep it filled up,” she said. “I was so sad after I closed that store. It was in May. I was so sad I just couldn’t bear it.”
She tried to operate her store exclusively online but missed having a storefront. So she started looking for a new place to go – someplace with good parking that didn’t require too many renovations.
She decided to go back to Brookwood, and she reopened White Flowers there on Black Friday. Across the hall is The Dress Shop, another boutique clothing store that was formerly located in downtown Homewood.
“That’s the kind of thing we’re looking for right now, is to fill some of these spaces with boutique-style clothing stores,” said David Schloss, general manager at Brookwood Village.
Planning for a Move Next Door
The new White Flowers space is about one-fourth of the size of its 18th Street location, but Hansen said she will soon move into the empty space beside where she is right now.
“It’s not a whole lot bigger, but the ceiling is exposed and it’s all brick in there,” she said. “So it will be so pretty painted white.”
She will also paint the concrete floors there white.
“My business is really built on presentation, and when I have a beautiful spot, people will come if it’s even just to be in there, to see what’s in there,” she said.
Hansen is also getting some foot traffic at this location. Groups of walkers do their laps in the mall each morning, and sometimes they pop in to see what’s for sale at White Flowers. She also said she is impressed with the mall’s security, and she can grab lunch at the indoor food court without worrying about anything happening to her store.
But since Belk moved out of its Brookwood location last year, no stores have come in to fill its place.
“My wish is that I could do something to be a part of helping Brookwood come back to life,” Hansen said. “Usually an anchor store won’t come if there’s nothing much in the middle.”
Schloss said that he is not at this time able to announce any stores that plan to move into the former Belk location.
“We’ve got a lot of plans for the shopping center, it’s just a matter of time,” he said.