Niagara Gazette — Imagine a business where planning meetings include white wine and laughter, and the partners go shopping together and then sell their finds in a funky, chic storefront to people who adore the treasures they’ve collected.
Talk to any of the seven partners and you’ll likely find that pretty aptly describes Antique to Chic, the new antique co-op in Lewiston.
Just the other day the ladies shared quite a few laughs doing one of their favorite things, decorating the new window at the store in this month’s vintage bridal theme. The window also features antique cameras, vintage hankies, a mirror and brush, and a mirrored little table set for two. Apparently it was pretty funny watching one of them having to crawl under the wedding dress to fix one thing or another.
“We’re having a total blast decorating the window every month,” said Gloria Costrino, of Youngstown.
Anybody working at a regular job would be bound to get a little jealous hearing about what “work” looks like for this crew.
The ladies originally all had businesses within The Country Doctor, a long-established antique co-op also on Center Street, located on a piece of property recently sold. While the Country Doctor is expected to remain open throughout the summer, the seven ladies reopened their business in a storefront at 536 Center St., which had previously housed an antique shop.
Having so many involved in a project means that there are plenty of styles and tastes represented within Antique to Chic. One owner is into antiques, another into vintage jewelry and another into rough-hewn primitive items. Some of the partners bring a little of everything to the mix.
“I’m extremely eclectic. I’ll buy anything that catches my eye, anything I’ve never seen before,” said Judy Munzi of Lewiston, who first came to the Country Doctor when her husband started selling his coin collection there. After he passed away about five years ago, she started handling his business and expanded into other items by shopping estate sales with her fellow co-op owners.
The other owners include: Nadine Lucas, Lucy Weller and Toddy St. Laurent, all of Youngstown, Wendy Haley of Lewiston, and Jackie Carbone of Niagara Falls.
“This (business) is one of the best examples of women helping women,” Munzi said. “They really supported me and I learned to buy what I liked.”
Carbone has been in the antique business for about 20 years. She also works nights as a waitress at a local Perkin’s Restaurant and she loves having both businesses.
“As you can see, I have trouble quitting things,” she laughed, “but, I’m a people person.”
The co-op fills her need for camaraderie, she said. “It’s more than a job. It’s really fun.”
The new shop, which the ladies also like because it’s on a single floor, is filled to near overflow with the ladies’ collections.
Just describing a single corner of the room can give a flavor of the coop offerings.
“There is an 1962 double oven that is to die for, with lots of chrome and it still works,” Costrino said. “We have a small country-shabby cupboard filled with brightly colored dishes, and an artist-made clarinet lamp in silver with a black shade.”
The co-op concept allows each of the owners to share the duties of ownership. But the best part, Costrino said, is that each brings something unique to the business.
“You have seven dealers with a variety of tastes and interests and expertise going out and buying all the time,” she said. “The place is always changing.”IF YOU GO • WHAT: Antique to Chic antique coop • WHERE: 536 Center St., Lewiston • MORE INFORMATION: Call 754-2277 or search Antique to Chic on Facebook.