Seleese Thompson is imagining the future and it looks bright and jolly — like the North Pole.
Thompson owns Precious Memories Florist & Gift Shop on South 31st Street, and she plans to open a second location in the former Fish Bowl store on Second Street in downtown Temple. Precious Memories Downtown will spread the joy of Christmas throughout the year.
“It’s going to be magical,” she said. “Lots of lights, trees and decorations. It will make you smile, and it will make you feel good.”
The building at 17 N. Second St. was a popular stop during the recent Imagine the Possibilities walking tour of downtown projects recently completed or in the works.
In addition to offering Christmas ornaments and gifts year-round, Precious Memories Downtown will provide a base for Thompson’s tree rental business, a service provided through the 31st Street store for about 10 years.
“If a customer needs a tree or decorations, we send a team to their house,” she said. “We will bring a tree, lights, ornaments and decorations, and a tree skirt — everything. Or, we can use their existing ornaments — it’s up to the customer.”
The tree rental service has grown through the years. It started by providing trees and decorations for homes, and has grown to include commercial properties as well.
“We provide trees for banks, nursing homes, hospitals — any business,” Thompson said.
The building — built in 1924 — consists of about 9,000 square feet at street level and a basement that is roughly the same size. The Christmas store will occupy street-level space along with a venue area that can be used for meetings and programs, she said.
“The venue is available now. I brought in the stage and podium from the City Federation of Women building on King Street,” she said.
Renovations of the building’s exterior and street level will begin soon, but Thompson wants to keep exterior decor consistent with renovations that will start soon on the neighboring Hawn Hotel, Sears building and Arcadia Theater.
The basement level of the building has been partially remodeled. It includes a spacious personal living area complete with a gym and private indoor parking, plus storage rooms for Thompson’s personal Christmas items — she has a lot of holiday collections — and for the store.
The building’s first tenant was Kuykendahl Motor Co., and it served as a Western Auto for many years before becoming the Fish Bowl pet store.
Thompson bought the Fish Bowl in 2012. It closed about five years later.
Thompson has tested the downtown waters by operating a Precious Memories micro-store at The Hub, selling fresh flowers and gift items. Its success has contributed to her dream of the Christmas store, which likely will open in late 2021 or sometime in 2022, depending on renovations.
“It’s exciting — I already have some inventory,” said Thompson, obviously eager to connect with her favorite holiday.