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Gypsy in the Village Does Her Part

Ashley Ernest waits on appreciative customers.

Everyone needs to feed their inner gypsy once in a while, and Urban Gypsy (urban-gypsy.org) is the place to go.  The store, relocated to Grandin Village, is owned by Ashley Ernest, a self proclaimed gypsy.  Her young years included moving from Texas to England and back again.  Along the way she developed a great deal of flexibility, wisdom beyond her years and a variety of accents.    The environment she has created in her retail establishment is lush and intimate at the same time.  Expressive color on the walls reflects a depth of texture that is refreshing and is reflective of Ernest’ personality that is both welcoming and worldly-wise.

This is no ordinary box store with thirty something of the same thing on the rack.  When she stocks her store she does it with a critical eye.  It is easy to find the unique and unusual alongside her supply of staple items – like great camisoles and tees and leggings with lace.  Whether you’re looking for a classic item with a slight twist, or want to treat yourself to something new while taking a walk on the wild side, you won’t be disappointed at the selection.  If you’re looking for comfortable shoes with flair, this is THE place to go.

Ernest, a native of San Antonio, Texas, came to Roanoke on vacation ten years ago.  She happened to be here on one of those “mist over the mountain” days and immediately fell in love because it reminded her of England.  Fancy that!  Three days after arriving home, she packed up and moved to the Star City and has been an valley asset ever since.  She has a loyal clientele and on a recent visit to the store I noticed both shoppers as well as local shopkeepers  alike coming and going.

Ernest has a unique perspective on retail. “I always listen to the non-buyers.”  She is interested in pursuing a relationship with her customers and if you share something about yourself, she will remember it the next time you meet.  This provides a nice level of customer service rarely seen in the hustle and bustle of commerce in this day and age.

She has made quick friends with other local business owners and that relationship is reflected in the “girls night out” that will be held on Thursday November 18th from 6-8 p.m.  During the event two local artists who are tenants in the building she occupies, Joe Hagerty and Katherine Devine, will be painting on canvas in her windows.

The artwork will be auctioned off, with the winner announced at the Grandin Village Holiday Open House on December 4th   from 12-5 p.m.  All proceeds will be donated to Unbridled Change (UnbridledChange.org), a local Equine Therapy Organization that serves disadvantaged youth and abused women throughout the Roanoke Valley.

Between her interactions with customers and her involvement in the local business community associations, Ernest has turned out to be one of those exceptionally good neighbors that make the Star City shine.

You can reach Urban Gypsy at 540-400-8552.  The store is located at 1320 Grandin Road SW.

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