May 15, 2017
By Ann Lovell
CULPEPER, Virginia–When Walter Gil isn’t on duty at The Culpeper, you can find him spending his evenings at The Lollipop Station. Walter, who serves as The Culpeper’s director of maintenance, opened the candy and toy shop in downtown Culpeper with his wife, Faith, in 2014. Located in a historic building on Davis Street, the business is quickly becoming a popular fixture in downtown Culpeper: The Culpeper Chamber of Commerce named the couple Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015.
Although neither of the Gils has a business background, they did extensive research on the types of businesses that thrive in towns like Culpeper. As they considered the types of products they would offer, Walter said manufacturers offered them merchandise on credit because they were impressed with the business model and plan.
“There was adult shopping and entertainment, but really nothing for kids,” Walter said in an interview with The Culpeper Star Exponent in 2015. “Our original idea was for a candy store, but we saw communities with specialty toy stores and found a niche that was missing there.”
The Gils consider the toy store a “labor of love,” and they consistently look for creative ways to support the community. They purposely price their educational toys to bring families of all economic levels into downtown. A stage in the shop offers Saturday morning story time and puppet shows, and a party room hosts birthdays and other special events.
“Giving back to the community is important to me and my family,” said Walter, who immigrated from Guatemala City to northern Virginia in 1999. His grandparents were naturalized citizens, Walter says, and he never doubted that he would follow their path. Walter became a U.S. citizen in 2009 to provide a better life for his two sons, who also became citizens in 2012 and 2013.
Neither Walter, who joined the staff at The Culpeper in 2016, nor Faith is a stranger to hard work. Walter previously worked as the maintenance director at Culpeper Health and Rehabilitation Center. Faith, a social worker, is a regional coordinator for Easter Seals. Both manage the store after their regular working hours.
At The Culpeper, Walter and his team are heavily involved with the expansion project, working with architects and designers on construction details for the new facility. Meeting the daily challenges of a 70-year old building isn’t always easy, Walter says, but he loves the people — both residents and staff.
“The staff come and do their jobs every day with smiles on their faces, and that’s very motivating for everybody,” Walter said. “We’ve got a great team, and that’s what I love the most.”
Ann Lovell is Corporate Director of Communications for LifeSpire of Virginia. Patricia Morris, Vice President of the VBH Foundation, contributed to this story. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (804) 521-9192.
LifeSpire of Virginia operates four continuing care retirement communities in Virginia: The Chesapeake in Newport News, The Culpeper in Culpeper, The Glebe in Daleville and Lakewood in Richmond.