Sue Poovey has a good eye — and she also knows a thing or two about designer eyewear.
Poovey is the owner of Gallery VI on Trade Street, an art gallery and frame shop located between Mary’s Gourmet Diner and Mission Pizza. She lives downtown as well, within walking distance of work, and calls The Residences at R.J. Reynolds Building home.
In her former career, Poovey was in corporate sales management with the Italian eyewear company, Safilo, with responsibilities within the Ralph Lauren Division. That position involved a great deal of airline travel, so it was a life punctuated by frequent flyer miles and little time at home in Richmond. Family was in Winston-Salem, where she lived for a few years in the early ’80s, so it was a natural choice to return when she left corporate life in 2007.
Shortly after moving back to Winston-Salem to be closer to family, settling in to the suburbs, and buying a bungalow in Ardmore, Poovey surprised herself. She purchased the Village Smith Galleries in Reynolda Village. Life never looked so good.
In 2017, after 10 years in Reynolda Village, Poovey decided it was time to relocate her business. She set her sights on downtown and discovered the ideal space on Trade Street: a newly-designed modern building by architect Adam Sebastian of STITCH Design Shop. Inspired by the exposed support beams that resemble giant Roman numerals that dominate the space, Poovey renamed her gallery and frame shop Gallery VI or, as she likes to say, “it named itself.”
It wasn’t long before Poovey began entertaining the idea of living downtown, as well. For a woman who appreciates all things beautiful, the historic Art Deco skyscraper and former headquarters of Reynolds Tobacco Company at 51 E. Fourth Street beckoned to her. The Residences at the R.J. Reynolds Building — a result of the building’s $60 million renovation completed in 2016 — proved to be the perfect home-sweet-home for the newly minted city girl.
High above the city streets, Poovey’s 17th floor apartment comes with some of the most breathtaking views of the surrounding Piedmont. From the timeless knob at Pilot Mountain standing as a sentinel to the north, to spectacular sunsets in the west, to the nighttime spectacle of end-of-game fireworks launched from BB&T Ballpark, Poovey has her own box seats.
“It’s the best one-bedroom in the building,” Poovey says, “and a corner unit at that.”
Unlike suburbia with its yards and fences, life in the ‘vertical neighborhood’ of an iconic skyscraper comes with its own unique charms and rewards. For instance, Poovey points out that riding the elevator up and down presents a constant opportunity to bump into neighbors, to connect, and to often dine out together. With a first class restaurant in-house, the Katharine Brasserie and Bar, residents find themselves treated like gold, if not family; almost each and every one of them are on a first name basis with Chef Adam Barnett.
Poovey confesses she still adores the quaint, tree-lined avenues of Ardmore, but doesn’t miss having to upkeep a 1930 bungalow with its obligatory gardening duties. That’s all been replaced with a life that’s virtually maintenance free from an online resident portal that features, among other things, work order requests.
“It’s like having your own live-in handyman on call,” she says.
Yard work? Forget about it.
If Ardmore held out the promise for a she-shed, Poovey seems more than satisfied with the amenities that her new ‘neighborhood’ offers. And while she admits that she is neither a bowler nor basketball player, her guests are always free to use the court and the lanes located on the lower levels.
It’s certainly been an exercise in downsizing for Poovey. But what she has given up in living space she has more than added to her life.
“I’ve reorganized my life around a style of living that I love,” Poovey says. “I still make it back to Ardmore where most of my family lives, but I’m just blocks away from several close friends who had already made downtown Winston-Salem their homes.”