"I believe there's a place for the small business," said Cynthia Ruszczyk, owner of Cindy's Unique Shop, "and I appreciate every customer that walks into my shop."
Rusczyk, who opened her consignment shop two years ago along Route 5 in downtown Wallingford, has a long history in retail, although this is her first consignment shop. She said that she has managed Hallmark Card shops and that she and her mother owned two stores that closed in the difficult economy of the late 1980's.
Then, one Christmas, her two daughters came to her, wanting Pandora's bracelets — jewelry that is available in, among other materials, sterling silver and 14k gold. She said she knew there were knock-offs available. So, to locate them, she began visiting fairs and also friends, many of whom asked her if she wouldn't sell items for them.
She said she operated a consignment shop for three years out of the garage of her home in Cheshire, before a friend spotted a vacant shop at 32 North Colony St. in Wallingford and urged her to visit it. Ruszczyk recalled her saying, "'Cyn, I want you to see it.' I've been here ever since."
Her two-floor shop now sells merchandise for more than 300 clients — and her inventory runs into the thousands of items of home decor. She said items come into shop as individual pieces, a box load or an entire household.
Although furniture seems especially hot right now — Ruszczyk said she has a good number of young clients who prefer her hard wood furniture at an affordable price to more expensive pieces they might find in large retail outlets — some items are "evergreens."
"There still is that teacup collector out there," she said of her collection of porcelain teacups that fill shelves. Everyone is doing that bridal party with teacups."
"My house is a combination of old and new," Ruszczyk said, "and so is my shop. It's how you put things together," she said.
So, along with her dark wood four-poster bed, small wooden chests and boxes for storage and cascade of lamps, she offers jewelry from what she described as "a million dollar company" with whom she has done business for six or seven years. The bold, costume jewelry she presents fits right into this season's trend of statement jewelry.
Dolls seem another, if not overwhelming, staple.
"I've had all kinds of dolls from 3-to-4 feet high," she said, noting she at one time also had a 1930's Shirley Temple doll. Two rag dolls that occupy a comfortable chair in her shop now came from a doll collector who decided to downsize, and one doll, appropriately for the season, has wings.
At this time of year, Cindy's Unique Shop is getting into the holiday swing. Although she offers a discounted item each day that the shop does not have a sale, she now, until Christmas, will offer weekly sales of items. For instance, this week, from Wednesday through next Tuesday, she is offering 20 percent off her home accessories.
She will also offer sales for Black Friday weekend and for Wallingford's Dec. 7 "Holiday Stroll."
And with prices that range from $1 to $400, such sales truly open the way for bargains. The owner noted that, unlike many consignment shops, she does not mark down prices every thirty days; rather, she starts each item at a reasonable price. She does offer layaways, and, for each $15 a customer spends, that customer receives a free gift.
Cindy's Unique Shop is open seven days a week. From Monday through Friday, it is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Saturdays, it is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Sundays, the shop's hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Free, off-street parking is available at the 32 North Colony St. address.