Local business owner connected to historic Reserve cottage by birth

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 20, 2009



RESERVE – After only a year in operation, Shea Puglia’s unique antique and home décor store Gazebeaux doesn’t have much of a history yet, but the building that houses business has a history as unique as the merchandise inside.

Puglia explained that the shop building and connected living space opened in the early 1950s when Ernest and Ethyl Torres moved to the area from New Orleans to open a fresh flower shop.

“It was known as Torres Nursery and Flower Shop,” Puglia said. “The Torres’ built a nursery in the back where they cultivated their fresh flowers. The shop handled almost all of the weddings for the west bank of St. John Parish, St. James Parish and even into Jefferson Parish.”

Puglia explained Ernest Torres did much of the landscaping work for the Riverlands subdivision area before venturing into the flower business.

The Torreses ran the shop into the 1970s, when Sharry and David Millet purchased the business in July of 1971.

“The store continued as a flower shop under the name Chateau de Fleur,” said Puglia. “Sharry Millet eventually added jewelry to the mix as well.

In June of 2008, Puglia approached the Millets about taking over ownership of the shop and continuing to run the store as a unique gift and antique shop. As the two sides discussed the specifics of the real estate transaction, Puglia said the Millets had asked to close on a specific day.

“They wanted to close the sale on the same day they bought the store – July 23,” Puglia said. “I thought it was interesting because that is my birthday, but what I didn’t realize was that they purchased the store on the day I was born – July 23, 1971. It was absolutely perfect.”

Puglia spent the next few months completely gutting the building down to the studs. In clearing out the interior, Puglia eventually stumbled across pictures of all the weddings done by the store’s previous owners.

“It was a lot of unique history that I felt I had to hang onto,” Puglia said.

Puglia moved to open the store after spending years in the mortgage business.

“I’ve always liked helping and working with people and determining how their interests fit their needs,” Puglia said.

“I also have a love of antiques. I studied merchandising in college and always aspired to be a buyer.”

She explained the building and the attached living space has been a good location to host parties to show off all of the shop’s offerings. She also offered that her husband owns and operates a winery, so there is always a ready supply of good food and drink.

“This will allow us to do something together after he retires,” Puglia said.