Two Peter-Blair employees, one long-tenured and the other a more recent addition, are the new owners of the Libbie-Grove menswear store.
Elizabeth Creasey and Rick Witty bought the 30-year-old business from original owner Dick Fowlkes in mid-January. The deal included the business itself and the store’s lease at 5800 Grove Ave. Terms weren’t disclosed.
Creasey has worked at Peter-Blair for 18 years, the last decade as store manager. She said she and Fowlkes had over the years batted around the idea of her buying the store but she didn’t think it’d be feasible to take on without the right business partner.
Enter Witty, a Ferguson Enterprises retiree who started to work at Peter-Blair about a year and a half ago. Creasey got to know him first as a customer and later as a co-worker. The pair hit it off, and after discussing it among themselves, approached Fowlkes in December about a deal as he took steps toward retirement.
“We wanted to keep the legacy going for Dick and so many customers were wondering why I wasn’t doing it in the first place,” Creasey said.
The new owners plan to reopen the store in late February. Creasey said that while the high-end menswear store will largely remain the same, she and Witty expect to put their own mark on it.
“We’ve got some ideas but really wanted to keep it the same for the most part,” she said.
In addition to the new owners overseeing the shop full-time, it also employs three part-time workers. Creasey said she wanted to add another full-time employee to serve in her old role as store manager.
Creasey, 48, worked in menswear prior to coming to Peter-Blair. She said her mom, who worked at a menswear store in Williamsburg, connected her with Fowlkes nearly 20 years ago for a job she didn’t expect to last this long.
“What I thought would be a temporary job in the interim turned into me owning it,” she said.
Witty recently joined Peter-Blair in search of something to do as a retiree and liked the idea of getting back into menswear about 40 years after he worked at Beecroft & Bull’s now-closed Newport News store. There, he was a store manager for a few years after he graduated college.
“I retired from Ferguson a couple years ago but was a little bored with retirement,” he said.
Fowlkes, who opened Peter-Blair in 1993, is expected to continue to have a presence at the store, and Creasey said the plan is for him to help out at the trunk shows.
“He’s a big part of the community and the store and we’re like best friends, so I want to keep him around,” Creasey said.