WALLINGFORD – It’s a treasure trove of second-hand home decor, glassware and local handcrafted items at Cindy’s Unique Shop on Route 5.
The Record-Journal recently stopped by the consignment store to talk with owner Cindy Rusczyk, a Cheshire resident, about her job and some cool finds she has come across in the last eight years.
Q: What is this business all about?
Ruszczyk: It’s all consignment, some of it is handcrafted from local artisans or photographers. We have one gentleman that makes signs, he does a great job. I’ve got women that crochet pieces and bring it in, but for the most part it is all consignment home decor, furniture and glassware.
Q: How does your consignment process work?
Ruszczyk: It’s a 60-40 split as far as clients bringing merchandise into the store. I don’t donate merchandise, so at the end of the road if there’s something I can’t get rid of I’ll call my client and at that point they have the opportunity to come pick up or they can donate, but that very seldom happens. Once something comes into my store it eventually goes.
Q: How did you start the shop?
Ruszczyk: I actually started in my home. I took over my husband’s two-car garage and converted it into a store and opened it on weekends. Whether it was my own merchandise, my girlfriends’ merchandise, I sold handbags, jewelry and that’s how it all started until I found a place where I knew I wanted the store to be, which was here. Then, I opened up retail.
Q: What is your background?
Ruszczyk: I’ve been in retail all my life. I give a big part of my knowledge from retail to my mom. She taught me a lot as far as customer service goes and displaying merchandise. I’ve been in it probably since I was about 8 years old. She managed two women’s clothing stores.
Q: What made you want to open this type of shop?
Ruszczyk: From so many years being in clothing with the two stores, I just wanted to get away from the whole clothing thing and I love displaying and staging and home decor. I think that’s why I went down that avenue.
Q: What are some cool finds you have taken in over the years?
Ruszczyk: I’ve had some great old pieces but this is probably the most unique piece, an old commode. From around the 20s. It’s usually just pieces people have had in the family with the same unfortunate story, the kids don’t want it, mom and dad are downsizing, that’s why great pieces like this come in.
Q: Who buys these antiques?
Ruszczyk: People don’t really collect anymore. People buy because they like it. A lot of people, their home is that mix of a couple great antique pieces mixed in with the new. If you came to my house, that’s what my house is. To me it brings warmth into a home, it brings history.
Q: How has the consignment industry grown, in your opinion?
Ruszczyk: It definitely has grown the past year, year and a half as far as merchandise coming in. A lot of people are downsizing. It’s funny, they’ll bring in but then they’ll buy and bring home. It’s a great way to get something ‘new’ at a lower cost.
Q: What has been the customer response throughout the years?
Ruszczyk: Everybody seems to enjoy it. It’s a shop, it’s a gathering place. I mean, I have customers that come in just to say ‘hey, how are you doing?’ and chit chat, have a cup of coffee. It’s grown a lot. I’m reaching about 2,000 clients right now.
Q: What items do you get in the most this time of year?
Ruszczyk: Right now it would be the furniture and glassware, accent pieces for the home.
Q: When are you the busiest?
Ruszczyk: Probably from now up until Christmas. I have a very small downtime. which is probably January and half of February.
Now is spring cleaning, a lot of the outdoor stuff is starting to come in.