By Angie Landsverk

Rosalyn Housley fell in love with decorating and sales when she started working for Home Interiors and Gifts in 1981.

“I helped thousands of people decorate their homes over my 25-year career,” she said. Her tenure with the direct sales company was followed by a move from Florida to North Carolina with her husband, Jim.

Jim continued his building business there. They sold vacation cabins that were turnkey decorated, and that started Rosalyn on the path of wholesale buying.

“I quickly noticed the more quantity you purchased of any item, the less expensive the cost (was) per item,” she said. “I am a bargain shopper by nature, so I thought why not open a store and have a place to retail all the items I was purchasing, as well as use my background in home decorating.”

In 2008, Rosalyn and Jim opened the first Rustic Rose in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. It remained in that location throughout its seven years.

Rosalyn explained how the store’s name was chosen. “Since we started in the mountains, we wanted the store to fit with our location, so the word ‘Rustic’ only seemed right,” she said. “My name is Rosalyn, and The Rustic Rose went up in lights!”

She said, “It was a perfect beginning since we were starting from scratch and searching out what lines of home décor and gifts were a fit for the look we wanted. I worked the store, my husband helped in the backroom, and my good friend helped part time. We steadily grew our business — learning as we went along — and decided to expand back to our home in Florida.”

Rustic Rose’s home décor store and fashion boutique are on the same square in The Villages, Florida.
A variety of items are featured in this display at The Rustic Rose Home Accents and Gifts.
Framed prints and canvases are found inside the home décor store.

They opened their second location in Parrish, Florida, and two years later, moved it into a larger space across the road. In 2016, they sold that store to their manager, who continues to own and run it.

Rosalyn and Jim brought The Rustic Rose Home Accents and Gifts to Florida’s The Villages in 2014. Four years later, they moved the fashion part of the store across the square and opened The Rustic Rose Fashion Boutique.

“The Villages is the largest retirement city in the world. People move here from all over to enjoy what this community has to offer,” she said. “We are located on one of the town squares where 365 days a year there is living music, dining, and dancing … and, of course, lots of shopping!”

Challenges, Turning Points

Rosalyn said one of the biggest challenges of having a busy store open 11 hours a day is finding the “work family” to cover the shifts and offer excellent customer service. The warehouse employees keep the merchandise flowing.

The managers help with the buying and constant merchandising throughout the store. Kara Clark manages the home décor store, and Nicole Scarpelli manages the fashion boutique. “After 10 years, we have an awesome team that enjoys what we do and has fun while doing it,” Rosalyn said.

Opening Rustic Rose in The Villages was the store’s turning point. “The other locations did well, but The Villages is like the perfect storm of customers who love to shop, and many of them are purchasing new homes,” she said. “Many folks are moving here from other parts of the country, so they are looking for a new style, and we specialize in charming Florida home décor, and the boutique offers Florida fashion.”

The home décor store has such items as framed art and canvases, metal wall décor, lanterns, candleholders, candles, silk florals, greenery, figurines, and vases. The fashion boutique sells ladies tops, pants, dresses, hats, jewelry, and handbags.

What sells well? Rosalyn said they have curated a beautiful line of wall art from local to international vendors, and it produces the top dollars of their inventory. She described tabletop accessories and florals as the “bread and butter of the business.” On average, they sell 400 items a day out of the 2,000-square-foot home décor store. And since The Villages is a huge golfing and sports community, some of the top sellers at the fashion boutique are shorts and skorts, she said.

“Most of the basics we have carried from the beginning, but every year when we do buying trips, we always look for the next exciting new vendor or product line,” she said. “We keep an eye on what has sat too long on the shelf and what we need to expand.”

Rosalyn shared advice for other store owners. “Develop an eye for what customers are looking for. Don’t be afraid to try something new,” she said. “And ask every new vendor what their specials are and what it takes to get to the next level of buying power.”

From left are Rosalyn Housley, Kara Clark, and Nicole Scarpelli. Kara manages the home décor store, and Nicole manages the fashion boutique.
The Rustic Rose specializes in Florida home décor.

She also said, “When it is time to make an exit (for me, that will be retiring), make a plan for keeping your dream alive. I have two amazing young managers who are allowing me to take a step back while teaching them every in and out of running a crazy busy retail store. They will be the future owners of my stores when it is time for me to fully retire, and my dream will become theirs.”

Customer Care

Both stores have the same typical customers. They are retirees who love to shop, are interested in looking fashionable, and want to find unique items for their homes, Rosalyn said.

In-store decorating is offered to customers. This includes everything from designing florals and tablescapes to decorating ideas for entire rooms. At the fashion boutique, they help women find the right style and look for their body shape and size, as well as accessories to complete the outfit.

She said having trained staff who can give customers one-on-one help; displaying merchandise in beautiful, eye-catching vignettes throughout the store; and having prices that make customers smile all set their customer service apart from other stores.

Their tagline is, “Delightful Shopping and Affordable Decorating.” Rosalyn said that from the moment customers walk in the front door, they are wowed with beautiful, well-coordinated displays set up on unique furniture, with no detail spared.

Customers describe the home décor shop as a place full of ever-changing merchandise for one’s home and lifestyle. They describe the fashion boutique’s clothing selections as trendy and well-priced.

Rustic Rose’s website provides an overview of each store and its products. Rosalyn said they collect email addresses on a little pad at the front of the store and send emails about every 10 days to highlight new arrivals and store specials. Pictures of the stores and their merchandise are shared on Facebook as well.

After being in The Villages for 10 years, Rustic Rose has a strong presence in the community. She said they have numerous regular customers and see many of them on a weekly basis.

For Rosalyn, it is not just a business to make an income but a passion to be enjoyed to the fullest. “Having my own stores allows me to experience the joy of being the buyer. I feel like that is the icing on the cake — to be able to curate the perfect array of home décor and gifts that customers fall in love with,” she said. “I love creating the displays with new and fun vignettes. And I love helping the customer shop and making the sale!”


Business Names: The Rustic Rose Home Accents and Gifts The Rustic Rose Fashion Boutique

Locations: 3646 Kiessel Road, The Villages, FL 32163 (Fashion boutique) 2757 West Torch Lake Drive, The Villages, FL 32163



Phone: 352-399-5407
(Fashion boutique) 352-571-5256

Employees: 17
(Fashion boutique) six

Sizes: 2,400 sq. ft.
(Fashion boutique) 1,200 sq. ft.

Trade Shows Attended: Atlanta Market, Dallas Market

Product Categories: Pictures, wall art, metal and wood art, candles, figurines, candleholders, lanterns, pottery, vases, foam flowers, succulents (Fashion boutique) Ladies fashion, purses, fashion jewelry, hats

Social Media:
(Fashion boutique)