By Patricia Beech
A new special event shop has opened off the main drag in Winchester’s West Street neighborhood.
Hilltop Formals & Gifts offers customers formal attire, gifts, and decorative pieces for the home, in addition to providing an intimate space for hosting special events such as gift showers, birthday parties, small receptions, and meetings – all with access to modern kitchen facilities.
Owner Jo Hall-McFarland will host a Sneak Peek open house for her Pinterest-inspired-shabby-chic shop July 26 – 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Hall-McFarland, the former owner of the Hilltop Event Center in Macon, says frequent customer requests convinced her there was a market for small-event spaces.
“Everyday people would call the Event Center wanting a small space for baby showers or birthday parties,” she says. “My space there was too large, but here we’re prepared to accommodate 25 guests, or we can extend the space into the building’s backyard area for larger groups.”
Located at 232 West Street in Winchester, the eclectic shop offers a wide selection of American-made textual wall art, in addition to formal wear for black-tie events like proms and weddings.
“Tuxedoes are my bread and butter,” says Hall-McFarland. “When someone gets a tuxedo from me, I take care of them. I make sure their tux fits perfectly. You don’t get that if you go to Eastgate – they won’t take care of you the way a local business will. That’s why I have boys coming for prom tuxes whose parents got their prom tuxes from me.”
The shop also offers a colorful variety of full-length prom gowns and short cocktail dresses (now on sale for $5 each), along with a full line of dress shoes and bling jewelry.
Additionally, Hall-McFarland creates corsages, boutineers, and wedding bouquets of high-quality silk flowers for her customer’s special occasions.
She calls herself a “memory maker”.
“I love making brides and grooms happy,” she says. “I love decorating and staging events, and I love to be around people. I like to see them smile, particularly at the very important events in their lives, the one’s they’ll always remember.”
Hall-McFarland started her formal attire business, Hilltop Designs, nearly three decades ago with her two daughters in the Seaman-based Tease & Tan Beauty Salon.
She then moved the business to her home on Graces Run Road where she eventually built a two-story structure to house the thriving enterprise.
“It just kept getting bigger and bigger, and when prom time came around my driveway just wouldn’t hold all my customers,” she says. “It was either go big or quit, so I bought an 8,400 square-foot building in Macon and started the Event Center.”
After 12 successful years hosting weddings and other special events, Hall-McFarland says she was ready to try something new.
“I kind of lost my passion for the Event Center because my weekends were always tied up” she said. “God closed one door and opened another for me. I wanted to stay in Winchester, but I had a really hard time finding a place. When this location became available I came to look at it and I knew it was exactly what I was looking for when I pulled into the parking lot.”
Hall-McFarland went to work transforming the block building, which had formerly been a doctor’s office before becoming the Gingerbread Daycare Center.
She replaced the primary red, green, and yellow painted walls with soft gray and hung shelving and display racks constructed from vintage doors, shutters, and cabinetry.
“I feel like I’m back where I should be,” she says. “Starting all over again with my tuxedos and prom dresses, but because proms are seasonal I decided to offer home décor and I think this smaller ‘special event’ space will have a lot of appeal for our customers because it’s so handy and convenient.”
The shop will also offer medical massages beginning in mid-August, and Hall-McFarland will host a Grand Opening during Winchester’s Homecoming Festival next month.
Customers can check out the shop’s full line of products on Facebook. For more information call (937) 695-5545.