Everybody knows Yolanda’s in Gloucester Village, whether for its distinctive made-in-the-USA apparel or thanks to the unique gallery that showcases the work of local artists.
The women’s clothing store has been a staple at 6658 Main Street for years, occupying what was once Twice Told Tales bookstore.
Owner Yolanda Teschner moved to Gloucester in 1983 and raised all five children there, noting, “I’m definitely rooted in the community. This is my home.”
Teschner graduated from Christopher Newport University as a philosophy major, which strengthened her belief on the importance of being open in life rather than living up to someone else’s expectations.
“I think creative expression is important, and one of the ways we do that is by the way we dress,” she says.
Though she only talks about it when prodded, Teschner enjoys singing and spent years as part of a gospel group growing up. On a break from college, she even joined a lounge band that traveled the southern part of the East Coast. She also sang solos, but downplays all of it, stressing, “that was a long time ago.”
Teschner never envisioned herself owning a store, but she previously worked for a boutique and enjoyed the relationships that it created. Extending those friendships and making new ones in an aesthetic and creative context prompted her to start Yolanda’s.
Through her boutique, “you get to know about people and their lives,” she says. “Because what you’re doing in my business is often hearing about what their needs are based on the events they’re going to.”
Weddings, dinners and class reunions are reasons to buy new clothes. Even the pandemic has called for a whole new kind of apparel, and those preferences continue to evolve.
For example, while athletic and leisurely clothing dominated the early part of the pandemic, most recently, Teschner has noticed a shift back to dressing up for even simple outings.
“Just being together is special today,” she says.
Yolanda’s sells largely washable fabrics that don’t wrinkle. More casual athletic shoes, lifestyle clothing and boots are trending today. Black pants are always in style.
Yolanda’s carries the Joseph Ribkoff line for dressy occasions and Teschner favors USA and Canadian-made brands. Clara Sunwoo’s wrinkle-free modern basics are popular along with Cut Loose, a line that’s sewn and dyed in San Francisco.
Plus, you’ll find your size at Yolanda’s.
“I carry every size clothing,” Teschner says. “I carry 0 to 3X, which a lot of people don’t do, especially in boutiques.”
The locally made jewelry at Yolanda’s includes handcrafted pieces from Raphaella Desiree Designs, a collection from Yolanda’s daughter, Raphaella, who has worked alongside her mom since the beginning.
One of the special touches inside the store is the Side Pocket Gallery that features the work of local artists. Yolanda’s donates one of its front windows for the rotating displays. Picnic tables encourage visitors to linger for special events related to the gallery.
“The art community is growing on Main Street,” Teschner says. “The gallery is just one more little pocket for it to grow.”
Yolanda’s serves a devoted clientele. “Many of my customers are loyal, local customers,” she says. “I have people, I call them my weekenders — they frequent on the weekends or seasonably. Some of my customers make it a habit to get together with their friends on a day trip and stop by as a group to shop. Sometimes they call ahead, and I’m happy to set aside special times. I’ll even add extra staff if needed.”
Customers routinely drop by from Richmond and the Southside. Others visiting family in the area make Yolanda’s a routine stop.
Private appointments are always available. Teschner gets to know her customers’ tastes so well that she keeps them in mind when buying. If you ask, she will text about new arrivals she thinks you might like.
Beyond the business, Teschner and her husband, George, enjoy spending time with their children and two grandchildren. Teschner served on the board of the Gloucester Main Street Association for years, as well as Arts on Main.
Her business isn’t just recognized by customers; it’s a Retail Alliance award winner. Yolanda’s earned Retailer of the Year awards in 2016, 2018 and 2020 from the nonprofit trade association that serves the interests of local retailers in all of Hampton Roads.
“Female business owners have a strong presence on Main Street,” Teschner says. “I feel a special sense of pride to be a part of this community and to operate a store that strives to celebrate women.”
Yolanda’s is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturdays. Call (804) 693-3939 for information.