Left of Center by Joshua Maloni
Five years ago, Antique to Chic was formed, partly, out of the uncertainty surrounding the proposed Center Street plaza project. Some of the co-operators were part of The Country Doctor, a business located in one of the buildings set to be torn down if the new mall was approved.
"I think when we came in here, our hope was to stay together, because of (Ellicott Development's land purchase)," Judy Munzi said Thursday. "We were all pretty determined to find another location and keep things going, because we liked our group. We wanted to keep doing it. We enjoyed what we were doing. We wanted to have a viable business and keep it going."
As the plaza was nearing approval, The Country Doctor moved from Center and North Eighth streets to 549 Center St. Prior to that, however, some co-op partners opted to leave and start a new venture. These merchants moved to 536 Center St., next door to Coppins Service Center.
There, this group of collectors was able to start Antique to Chic. At this location, the co-op members could offer new items, bring on new partners and, most importantly, keep a good thing going.
"Of course, we wanted to make money and be successful, but we mostly wanted to stay together - keep doing what we were doing," Munzi said. "We've done that."
Munzi said she and partners Lucy Weller, Gloria Costrino, Judy and Paul Muoio, Jackie Carbone, Toddy St. Laurent and Janelle and Patti Tweed enjoy "being in the center of everything."
"The location is just perfect," she said. "We are in the center of the festivals. We're right there when people go to DiCamillo's. We're just right in the core of the village, which is really nice."
Antique to Chic is nestled in a hub of stores selling antiques, unique items and locally made products.
"Antique shoppers are a unique breed," Munzi said. "Most shops would want to be the only one in town. If you're an antique shop, you do not want to be the only one in town. Because antiquers want to go where there's several shops that they can visit."
Customers are drawn to Antique to Chic "with all the stuff we put out front, because there's a vintage look to it," Munzi said. "We also have the garden. We get a lot of people that go to the bank next door (Northwest), and they see our garden shop out back. In the good weather, that's a big draw. ... We try to keep the windows fresh and reflect the fact that we have such a diversity of items - because we don't just do antiques. We do everything up to contemporary."
Inside the store, "We try to be creative," Munzi said. "We try to have things that you can't find any place else."
Weller said, "Things have changed," since she began selling goods 20 years ago. "People, they aren't interested in the same things. It's like a whole new generation. ... Cups and saucers, they used to be so popular. People just aren't interested anymore."
Munzi said, "Now they want a piece of wall art. They're thinking of a particular place they need a chair that will fit in here. But we're getting a lot of young people now, too, which is really exciting."
Each Antique to Chic partner has a section of the store, and each one purchases, displays and sells distinctive items (including furniture, primitives, original artwork, jewelry, vintage collectibles and clothing).
"I think people are figuring out that they can get a quality, well-made item here, for a fraction of what they would pay for at a good furniture store - and it's going to be way better quality than what they're going to get at a 'box' store," Munzi said. "It's going to stand up. It's going to last."
Antique to Chic's partners will celebrate the store's fifth anniversary with a weeklong birthday party. From Friday, Feb. 23, through Friday, March 2, customers can take advantage of bargain and sale items, enjoy birthday treats, and enter to win giveaways and a birthday basket.
The co-op is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, and from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call 716-754-2277.
Antique to Chic