When Michelle Leshok opened her first Lazy Daisy store, she never imagined what it would turn into in just a few years. Started on a “total whim and a complete leap of faith,” she opened her first location in Chester, Virginia, in 2011 to cope with the grief over the tragic death of her 7-year-old son, Morgan. Her precious boy was killed alongside his father, Scott, at the hands of a total stranger in what Michelle says was “pointless violence.”
From Tragedy to Inspiration
The tragic incident instantly changed her life forever, as she went from having a wonderful life to “nothing.” Once full of love, laughter, work, and “typical fun family chaos,” her life came to a complete standstill. After having lost everything and hitting rock bottom in her personal life, Michelle was driving through Chester when a building she had seen countless times caught her attention. A sign on the window read “For Lease.” The two words stood out like a light to her. Before this, she had never thought of opening a store. But it hit her that now this was exactly what she wanted to do.
Michelle called the number and met the landlord right away. “I explained that I had nothing and wanted to do this, and he gave me that chance,” she recalled.
“I called my mom and said, ‘What do you think about me opening a store?’ She said, ‘What kind of store?’ I said, ‘I don’t know… a country gift store… with pretty things and painted furniture’?! She said, ‘You should do it!!’”
It didn’t take long for Michelle to turn the place into a beautifully decorated store. She started painting the walls and gathered a wide range of items to fill the shop. Christmas was just around the corner, so she brought in many Christmas ornaments and decorated trees in the store.
Her round-the-clock engagement with the store provided her with the “therapy” she desperately needed. As Michelle put it, “It was my calling. I absolutely dove into creating this store, 24/7, consuming myself with it. It was my therapy, and ultimately, my survival.”
When Michelle opened the store on November 17, 2011, she had never considered what a great a journey she was about to embark on. It had not even crossed her mind that the store she had opened to deal with her sorrow would go on to change the lives of many.
The store’s merchandise soon expanded to include a variety of handmade gifts, beautiful jewelry, and countless one-of-a-kind products. Besides providing a range of unique gift items, the store became famous for restyled and upcycled home décor and furniture — something Michelle said they specialize in.
If customers are looking for refurbished furniture, they’ll see it at the store. Those looking for uniquely created handmade gifts will find those here too. If someone needs to hang something on their wall but don’t know what they’re looking for, the Lazy Daisy is the place to find it. The store is also well-equipped for DIYers, as it offers classes for customers who want to create handmade goods like the ones on display.
A Platform for Local Vendors
Another thing that makes the Lazy Daisy a truly special place is that it has been divided into booths rented and stocked by local vendors, who sell everything ranging from shabby chic furniture to handmade goods, to vintage items, to jewelry and clothing, and much more.
A shopper proposed the idea of renting out spaces to vendors soon after the store opened. “It wasn’t long before a customer asked me if I would consider renting out a small space, maybe a wall to an artist,” Michelle said. “I thought, Wow, how cool would that be? I never even thought that maybe other people would want to do that, so I tried it. I rented a small space and had my first vendor.”
Before long, Michelle had rented the upstairs of her Chester store to local artisans, all of whom filled it with a variety of treasures. The idea was so appreciated that Michelle decided to add new vendor spaces to the downstairs as well. She had her husband John (or Mr. Daisy) build walls to create more partitions for the new purpose. Soon after, the Chester store had tripled in size.
Expanding “a Happy Place” to Other Locations
When Michelle realized her “simple idea to create a happy place” had become something remarkable, she decided to open a second location in Midlothian, Virginia, in 2014. She opened her third store in Short Pump, Virginia, 18 months later. A fourth store in Williamsburg, Virginia, followed in 2017. Finally, she opened the fifth Lazy Daisy location, a 7,300 square foot store, in Mechanicsville, Virginia, in October 2018.
Michelle doesn’t plan to open any additional locations, she explained. “But I said that the last two times I opened them.” She does plan to grow her business in the long run, however. “I will never give anything less than 100% of myself to this,” she said. “This is my life and I will work tirelessly to continue to make it grow.”
A Special Logo
The logo of the Lazy Daisy store features an image of little Morgan blowing a dandelion in a field of daisies. John created the logo, which holds a special place in her heart, and she has made it her mission “to put that sweet face on as many things as we can and make sure his legacy lives on through the Daisy.”
The Lazy Daisy stores currently have 25 “Daisy Girl” employees, and more than 250 local artisans feature their amazing work in the five locations. Full of love and inspiration felt by so many people, the Lazy Daisy has changed the life of everyone associated with it.
The store is “a special place created for a very special reason,’’ Michelle said. “It has truly changed lives…. Every vendor at the Daisy is so special and unique and has so many stories to tell about how this special store has changed their lives.”
“I feel very lucky to be able to provide a platform for these wonderful, talented crafters to have a place to build on their dreams and be a ladder for their success,” she added. “I want them all to reach for the highest goals and then reach some more.”
Facts at a Glance
Business Name: The Lazy Daisy
4313 Old Hundred Road
Chester, VA 23831
Phone Number: 804-796-2192
Other Store Locations:
Midlothian, VA Short Pump, VA
Williamsburg, VA Mechanicsville, VA