The Painted Tree Takes Root

From fashion to food, home décor to skin care, craft kits to charcuterie boards, this unique Virginia Beach retail experience is a win-win

by | Sep 1, 2022

the painted tree interior

If beachy is your bag, jelly is your jam or shabby is your chic, Painted Tree Boutiques delivers. Well, not technically because, you see, the in-person shopping experience is part of the point.

The yin to the online shopping yang that took hold with new vigor during the pandemic, Painted Tree is rooted in the touch it, taste it, smell it shopping experience. Starting with a refreshing sip of self-serve fruit-infused water in shimmering glass dispensers at a front-of-house station and continuing for what seems like miles along aisles with street names like Aspen Avenue and Dogwood Drive, there are stimulators for the senses at every step.

The Painted Tree

Gathered under one roof in the former Stein Mart location at Virginia Beach’s Hilltop since May 2021 are 250 vendors selling everything you can think of—and some you haven’t—for home, garden, bath, body, baby, pet and more, all within a moderate price range.

Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe the layers upon layers of stylishly arranged art and antiques; candles and cards; craft kits and charcuterie boards; fashions and foods; handbags and housewares; mirrors and mugs; ornaments and oils; signs and soft goods. And that’s just for starters. As the company’s website muses, this is “an Etsy marketplace and Pinterest catalog come to life.”

Dozens upon dozens of mini boutiques, each with its own curated character, stretch for as far as the eye can see. Wood, concrete, rugs and other flooring materials, painted and wall-papered dividers, light fixtures and wooden pergolas overhead help lend each booth its distinctive vibe. Much of the merchandise is handmade locally or elsewhere and all of it is hand-selected by small business owners, a couple of whom are still in high school. But none of it is grouped by type, encouraging a hunt-and-seek spirit among shoppers.

The Painted Tree

Tim Dooley of The Retro Den vends mid-century modern art and small furnishings and, perhaps most enticingly, his upcycled lamps. What began as a father-daughter hobby has become a homegrown small business featuring lamp bases engineered from the likes of antique teapots, biscuit tins and beer taps, perhaps with a vintage ash tray base. Can you say, “Man Cave”?

Julie B Shades was born from the empty nest of a woman passionate about color, her friends and her family, after whom she named each lamp shade pattern. The contemporary drum shades are created with handmade papers from around the globe mounted to clear acrylic vertical slats suspended from a concealed spoke-style support. The shades come in a variety of sizes and can be mixed-and-matched with any style base. Your personal photos can even be used in place of decorative papers for the ultimate in personalization.

The brainchild of Little Rock-based partners, Corey Gillum and Mike Cavallo, Painted Tree Boutiques has grown from one to 25 stores with a goal of reaching 200. Gillum, a photographer who left the trade to start a business brokerage firm, and Cavallo, a youth minister who went to work for Gillum, brokered a flea market, decided to open an upscale home décor marketplace, and the rest is recent history.

The Painted Tree Boutiques business model not only offers shoppers a unique experience, but vendors as well. These entrepreneurs can start a side hustle or pursue a passion without quitting their day jobs or even open a second—or 17th—location of an existing brick-and-mortar or online business. For rent plus 10% of sales, Painted Tree employees handle accounting and pretty much everything else except sourcing and merchandising.

The Painted Tree

Vendors can stop by every day. Or not. The company also supports their sellers through a variety of educational offerings and events. Plus, those with experience are encouraged to mentor those just starting out creating a true sense of community and comradery.

Instead of competing with each other, the upscale market stall concept creates a synergistic effect among buyers. So, stop in for the patisserie-inspired bath and body products, stay for the personalized pillows or painted signs, and be sure to fuel your focus with a cup of that fruit-infused water.

Learn more at

The Painted Tree

Betsy DiJulio is a full-time art teacher, artist and curator with side hustles as a freelance writer, including for Coastal Virginia Magazine, and a vegan recipe developer and food stylist and photographer for Tofutti Brands.

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