Walla Walla fixture Purple Parasol fades to black

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WALLA WALLA — A downtown building long known for formal wear will soon be outfitted for fine wine.

The Main Street property where Purple Parasol has dressed everyone from brides and grooms to prom dates for decades has been sold to a Benton City vineyard company that plans to make its tasting room debut there.

Today is the final day for the Purple Parasol shop in Walla Walla. A sister branch in Kennewick will continue with formal wear and custom alterations at 22 W. Kennewick Ave.

According to an announcement, the three sisters who own the business wanted to downsize to a single denser market.

Siblings Sharlene Miller, Sheryl Brewer and Shirley Giarde opened Purple Parasol in 1982 on West Main Street, near Wylie Monuments. Their four children between them, ages 1 to 5 at the time, played in the backroom during operating hours while the mothers worked. After five years, the operation moved east on Main to the current spot of Providence Fine Living. During the same year, they opened a second location in Kennewick. Three years later, the women got the chance to purchase their current building at 25 E. Main St., in a move that allowed them to help lead the transformation and revitalization downtown.

In 1999 their property was reportedly among the first to be part of the exterior makeover movement that revitalized downtown and put Walla Walla on the map as a Great American Main Street community.

The property has been on the market for the last couple of years, said Downtown Walla Walla Foundation Executive Director Elio Agostini. Although the closure of the shop will is a loss of formal retail in the market, Agostini said the sale is good news for the family of owners as they pursue their vision of consolidation.

In its place will be Shaw Vineyards’ first winery. The Tri-Cities vineyard company has been in existence for 30 years with grapes in the Red Mountain and Mattawa areas, said General Manager Eric Henriksen. This will be the first venture into a tasting room for the company. Winery owners Dick and Wendy Shaw will feature their Henry Earl wine, a tribute to both of their fathers with grapes from Shaw Vineyards’ Red Mountain property.

“We’re excited to be part of Walla Walla and what’s going on there,” he said.

Henriksen said operators hope to be open by next spring/summer, but very few details about the transition have been determined. He said owners plan to keep the tasting room on the main floor and offer vacation rentals upstairs.

“We’re at the very beginning right now talking to local architects and local builders,” Henriksen said.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

Comments

katijo 7 months, 3 weeks ago

So.....more reasons and excuses of the young people of Walla Walla to head out of town for their needs, while encouraging more alcoholic intake. It is no wonder the teenagers in our town have so much trouble finding work...the wineries and tasting rooms require a minimum age of 21, what are the 16 year olds supposed to do? Ugh. Don't get me wrong I will not miss this particular store one little bit, I do however feel saddened by the loss of a place for something other than wine.

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jennybuggs 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I am bummed that the Parasol is leaving. I always liked to look at the window displays. I'm also disappointed that it will be replaced with ANOTHER tasting room . I also wish that people with 2nd story residential potential would create tenant apartments rather than vacation rentals :(

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Larch 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The Purple Parasol windows were the one & only locus of relief in a so-called downtown that has been abandoned to tourism not unlike a boarded-up district abandoned to crime. By chance, the Parasol's bouquets of frocks & tuxedos & its physical position mirroring a sunlit street of slack-jawed baggy-shirted tourists & scruffy locals displayed the withering irony of contrast between our well-dressed past & the slovenly New America. Dress forms & dreams; booze bottles & hangovers. Will the real headless dummies please stand up?

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jkruchert 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Sad to see it go. I feel for the kids who cannot travel to the Tri Cities to get their formal attire for their formal dances. Hopefully someone else will see the need for such a store in our town and reopen a new one.

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