Imagine shopping for a living. For Paulette Millhorn, owner of The Veranda Gallery & Tea Room, searching for fabulous finds is all in a day’s work.
“When you’re in retail, you’re literally shopping all the time but that doesn’t take away the fun of it!” assures Paulette, who regularly scours buyer’s markets nationwide and vendors close to home.
Having just celebrated its fifth anniversary on March 1, The Veranda has secured a comfortable niche in Ocala’s retail scene. Loyal customers rely on Paulette to offer an amazing variety of unique and fashionable items. First-timers are sold on the stylish shop after just one visit.
Built in 1888, the elegant Victorian structure is actually listed as the John Dunn House on the National Historic Register.
Passionate about restoring old houses, Paulette who moved to Marion County from Miami 13 years ago, purchased the building in 1999. A resident of Ocala’s Historic District, Paulette had already restored at least half a dozen homes before taking on the John Dunn House. It took 2-1/2 years and a complete restoration from the ground up to bring the gracious old home back to its former glory. The 13 fireplaces, lofty ceilings and extensive woodwork speak volumes about yesteryear’s craftsmanship.
“This was the most extensive restoration I’ve undertaken, but I love this building,” says Paulette. “I can’t imagine being in a strip mall somewhere.”
Indeed, such a location would hardly be the place for this tempting boutique where 11 different rooms are brimming with intriguing gifts and must-have trinkets.
“I love coming to work every day and thrive on the activity and the personalities of the people I work with and our customers,” observes Paulette.
Patrons flock to The Veranda to find the latest creations from the colorful Vera Bradley collection. Known for having the largest selection of Vera Bradley in Ocala, Paulette carries everything from handbags to luggage, stationery and more in the immensely popular line. The Veranda offers free monogramming with Vera Bradley purchases and the latest spring items have arrived.
Paulette envisioned making The Veranda several shops in one location by filling it with exclusive goods not readily found elsewhere. She discovered an abundance of area talent when searching for unusual merchandise.
Among such offerings are jewelry pieces created from sterling and semi-precious stones by Dr. Cheryl Hawk; china pendants by 2 Dishes; handmade glass bead necklaces by The Glass Bead; individually hand-crafted “Kards for Keeps” greeting cards by Jean Gilman and Cynthia McFarland; digitally enhanced framed nature photography by Claudia O’Brien; and paintings by talented local artists Gail Ashford, Lisa Russo and Linda Blondheim.
“Bonnie Harris Designs” features one-of-a-kind purses created from fanciful linens and fabrics. Devon Ryder’s “Trndylooks” highlights specialty foods and teas, gourmet pet treats and accessories. Debbie Smith’s “Garters and Bowties” offers wedding accessories and perfect gifts for the bridal party. Tish Cray’s “Tips & Tea” is a full service nail salon; you can even enjoy lunch while having your nails done.
Speaking of lunch, The Tea Room seats up to 50 guests and offers a charming setting in the dining rooms or outside if the weather suits. Chef Dale also whips up high teas and tantalizing special occasion dinners; catering is also available. The Tea Room is ideal for weddings, showers, anniversaries and other celebrations.
The Veranda is the perfect spot to shop to your heart’s content, meet with your gal pals for a light-hearted lunch, find a memorable gift, and enjoy a relaxing manicure or pedicure. Glance in the garden and you might spot resident feline “Mama Kitty,” once a stray, who now dines on lobster and shrimp daily.
The man who isn’t sure what to buy will appreciate the girls at The Veranda, as they’ll help him find everything on your wish list. Better yet, tell him you want a gift certificate so you can have the fun of shopping!
The Veranda Gallery & Tea Room
416 SE Fort King Street • Ocala, FL 34471
Monday–Friday 9:30 to 5:30pm
Saturday, 10am to 4:30pm
Serving lunch 11am to 2pm
Chef’s luncheon buffet on Saturdays!