quite the event
Beloved River Oaks retailer dishes on her plan for new space
Considering she’s just weeks away from one of the biggest professional and personal moves of her lifetime, Regina Garcia is barely breaking a sweat. In fact, she’s downright elegant.
No surprise there, as the much-adored owner of Events — the iconic, River Oaks luxury gift shop/retailer — handles all her business with the grace and aplomb of several Martha Stewarts. For years, Events has been an Inner Loop landmark of all things elegant, personalized, and often, over-the-top. Her brands include Baccarat, Hermes, Lalique, Christofle, Michael Aram, Saint Louis, and Crane’s. She’s known as a purveyor of unique, one-of-a-kind art pieces that she sources locally, nationally, and around the world.
Locals and visitors routinely add Events to their must-visit list during the holidays. “It’s as close as you’re gonna get to Fifth Avenue in Houston,” says George Lancaster, of real estate giant Hines. “Regina is a retail genius.”
So there was an understandable chorus of gasps in River Oaks, and beyond, when Garcia announced that she’s moving her venerable store from the current location in the River Oaks Shopping Center, to a new location at 2439 Westheimer Road, taking the space that formerly housed The Empty Vase. (The new location opens February 1.) Garcia initiated the move, upon learning of the impending new mixed-use development, The Driscoll, set to break ground adjacent to River Oaks Shopping Center.
We caught up with Garcia, who’s in a reflective mood after her recent New Year’s Eve party event, as she packs up her store amidst a flood of memories.
CultureMap: Congratulations on the move, but it must be a bittersweet moment for you as you pack up?
Regina Garcia: Thank you, it’s very bittersweet. It’s always exciting to create a new place and environment, but I would have preferred to stay and reinvent myself, and the store. My heart has always been with the customer, and the negativity of construction is remembered by a customer for a very long time. There was a chance we’d lose our great customers to the construction. I always want to deliver-the-top concierge service, so I couldn’t risk it.
CM: Events has always been a hidden treasure. It’s amazing that it’s known nationally, but many Houstonians haven’t experienced it.
RG: You’re right: this has been a neighborhood, in-the-know hidden treasure — full of hidden treasures. Customers fly in, and drive in, sometimes to have lunch and visit the store. The customers are so excited when I tell them why I’m moving.
CM: We understand you had an Events New Year’s Eve painting party that was quite the event, if you will, with a who’s-who of attendees?
RG: It was! We all gathered to paint the new space — I painted one wall, and changed into a gold shirt. Philamena Baird organized kitchen for catering services, and made duck and tenderloin. Terri Turner painted the blue French wall, then changed her attire.
The boys carried boxes in and out and waited on us. I brought in Baccarat glassware to use for our dinner place setting; we used a mixture of sterling silver from Christofle. Artist Alan Rodewald, a Houston artist, came to hang original art twigs for the store and evening. The table dressing was all laced 14 to 18 karat gold, from various French, and English porcelain, and bone China. I brought in Dom Perignon champagne 2009 for the evening.
CM: You’re known for spoiling your customers, and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to the luxury experience. Would you say this was a sample of what customers can expect in your new space?
RG: This was definitely a dry run for what I need to do for private events in store. This is all started when I threw a World Series event at the store. Customers started asking if I could hold their events, and the demand grew from there.
CM: We were talking about some of your favorite memories of going above and beyond for your customers. There’s a story that you had to literally remake china for a customer. Can you elaborate?
RG: I never get stumped, but this one was quite a challenge. This customer wanted gold-trim china — for his airplane — that could be microwavable. That involved custom-created china, made in France, which was then dipped into a clear coating. That made the gold microwave-proof. He wanted the family logo in gold the center of each plate, and the rim of the plate in gold, all for his airplane.
That’s what we do. If there’s a will to do it, I want to be the one to do it, when it comes to customizing for a customer. I find it a challenge and passion. If you do the research, you can make anything happen.